In my junior year at Fordham, I embarked on a project asking fellow queer students, faculty, and staff how they pray. A gay priest told me he prays with the Merton Prayer because it gives him the trust to walk with God along an unfamiliar path. An asexual woman finds comfort in the Hail Mary as she discerns motherhood. Patient Trust empowers a Catholic high school teacher to be an active witness for his students. One woman told me she prays with “The Greatest Love of All” (yes, the Whitney Houston song) because it gives her the power to love others by first loving herself.
What I have found in the ways queer Catholics experience prayer is a beautiful symphony from God, providing clarity on the parts of them that are disparate, broken, and in need of mending—the parts that live in chaos. The uniting thread of each person’s story is that their prayers opened them to allowing God to become active in their life in dynamic ways. They developed a new understanding of the world. Each time they pray is then both a reminder of that first moment and a call to further their journey of understanding. Each time they pray is a journey to wholeness.In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus teaches us how to pray. Fundamentally, he tells us that God knows what we will need before we even ask for it—God is the active subject. Our conversations with God do not return void, but “achieve the end for which [God] sent it” (Is 55:11). This is why we pray that God’s Kingdom exists “on earth as it is in heaven” (Mt 6:10): prayer is the vehicle by which God imparts understanding of love and justice upon us so that we can go forth and build them on earth.
In prayer, God speaks love to all—to the asexual woman and gay priest as the Gentile and the Jew. God clarifies chaos, unifies brokenness, and heals shame. Listening in prayer is an important way we find clarity—we find God—out of the chaos (or, in today’s reading, “babble”) of everyday life.
- How does, or can, your prayer life provide clarity on the parts of you “that are disparate, broken, and in need of mending—the parts that live in chaos?”
- How can you be more attentive in prayer to grow in your understanding and embodiment of God’s love and justice?
Benedict Reilly (he/him) is a senior undergraduate at Fordham University in New York City. He is the editor of Queer Prayer at Fordham and chair of Ignatian Q 2023, a conference for LGBTQ+ students at Jesuit colleges and universities.