It is difficult to love and to be loved as one would like. It is painful to realize that there are whole areas in the life of the mind that will never be revealed. Every man, one day or another, becomes aware of his poverty as a creature. And since this experience is a crushing one, the natural temptation is therefore distractions, or as Pascal said, diversions. There is an “impatience with one’s limitations,” a natural temptation that urges us to flee before such limitations. We experience a fear in coming face to face with them, and this fear arises again and again inside us. Distractions, therefore, appear as the opposite of prayer, a refusal of our real condition, an evasion of it in favor of illusion, dream, mirage (recall man’s pursuit of different kinds of drunkenness: evasion by the flesh, art, sports, etc.)

However, the first moment of true prayer occurs in the experience and awareness of one’s limitations. We do not know what our real needs are, and we must learn them all over again each day. In this sense, prayer has the value of pedagogy, it is the great pedagogy of God. While evasion and distractions draw us away from the road to real happiness, prayer brings us back to what is most authentic in man’s quest for happiness. “The truth will set you free.” Prayer makes us free; it preserves what is most fragile and most precious in us: the integrity of our desire, that desire which, in final analysis, is nothing but need for God. This is what prayer preserves in us, and must teach us every day, this need for God, which is the distinctive, most profound trait that separates man from the animals. Man is the only being who turns to God to obtain what is lacking for his own fulfillment.

Father Bernard Bro OP, quoted in Magnificat

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