This post has extracts from correspondence about the vigil, between Peter Simmons and Mike Mineter. The emails are in chronological order; in the most recent Peter invites me to publish the texts of his emails here .
Also in the last of these emails, Peter captures the crux of the exchange:
What I am suggesting is that we should pray insistently - banging the table if necessary - that God's will for the Church be done and that God should nudge all of us, from the smallest child right down to the Pope, in the direction God wants us to take.
Like many others I have been agonising about the direction in which the Curial Church is leading us, the repressive climate they are fostering, their undermining of Bishops, their attachment to image rather than the Gospel, their gadarene rush away from the vision of Vatican II etc etc etc. I too have shared the sense of rage and impotence at the lack of any mechanism in the Church for the laity to express their concerns, offer their insights, and take their baptismal responsibility for the Body of Christ of which they are members. However, during this past year I have been compelled by events in my personal life to view impotence/helplessness in an entirely different way. I will not bore you with the detail except to say that it centred on my wife undergoing life-threatening heart surgery, followed by a stroke. For some months, there was absolutely nothing effective I could do about it. For a life-long control freak that was Calvary. Thanks to prayer, I began to change in two ways : I began to try to listen to God, and then to trust Him. I began to let go of my agenda and to let God reveal His. The process is ongoing, but its early effects on me are remarkable. I am learning to hand over to God all my rage, frustration,and fears for the future of the Church.I am offering all that to you by way of suggesting that you consider slightly amending the stated intention for the 40 days of prayer (which I hope to attend a few times from my home in North Berwick). By all means let us pray for the Holy Spirit to renew the Church. But let us remember that the Spirit can work only in hearts which are open to Him. Let us pray therefore for the grace to let go of all that is dominating our minds and hearts, to listen as attentively as we can and give the Spirit room to operate . Let us pray for this grace to be granted to all Catholic at this time. Let us pray the prayer composed by the priest who was a Chaplain to the New York Fire Dept and which has become his legacy since he died in the 9/11 atrocity :Lord, take me where you want me to go.Let me meet who you want me to meet.Tell me what you want me to say.And keep me out of your wayWe want to see change in the Church, but surely it has to be the change that Jesus Christ wants.I salute all those who have created this initiative. I will pray for its success and I will join it as often as I can.
Mike's response to Peter, 21 April
Thank you, Peter
How much, if any, of the email would you be happy to see on the blog?
I have been unsure whether I should have explicitly included prayer for renewal of those doing the praying [in our routine of praying] - I had reckoned we are already there in the prayer for the Diocese and I wanted the time to be altruistic.... I guess whenever I pray about something I am also inevitably trying to let go of my preconceptions and let my approach be changed. That was one reason for beginning with a lot of silence - so we are open to going into those places where our words don't routinely go.... something like that.... That's also why its prayer, not a demonstration with preplanned objectives, and why people who pray with us from their homes are as much a part of this as those who turn up.
When we meet, I think that we do not have an agenda for what or how there should be change; I think the "feel" of the group is of desiring openness to something new that we do not define. And also of needing to do something because there are things that are explicitly wrong, and it is right to name them.
Thanks again for the thought, prayer and the email.
From Peter, 22 April
... The "agenda" I referred to was the agenda I discover in myself when I pray for any intention. What I have realised late in life is that God knows much better than I the real needs of the person I'm praying for or the issue I'm praying about. In the words of Oscar Romero : "He knows what He is about". In the turmoil afflicting the Church at present many people, honest, concerned and troubled Catholics tend to leap at instant conclusions - let priests marry ordain women review the law on contraception think again about homosexuality etc etc What I am suggesting is that we should pray insistently - banging the table if necessary - that God's will for the Church be done and that he should nudge all of us, from the smallest child right down to the Pope, in the direction He wants us to take.
From Mike 22 April
Many thanks Peter.
Yes, we need to become somethinig different and new, not have a quick fix to sustain what is or was. Thank you for the clarity of the call to let go our agenda and seek God's will.