My Thoughts on 21/12/2020

I heard yesterday an America Jesuit, William A Barry has just died. He was 90 years old. I never met him but he has had a great influence on me through his writings. I have many of his 15 books in my library.

Like most of us he has one recurring message or theme that he talks about in different ways. The first book I read of his was “God and You: prayer as a personal relationship.” He say that in creating us God wants our friendship. This doesn’t mean that God is lonely and therefore needs our friendship. What he says it that God—out of the abundance of divine relational life, not any need for us—desires humans into existence for the sake of friendship.

Over the years he became convinced that the best analogy for the relationship God wants with us is friendship. Friendship involves a lot of listening. Fr Barry began to use this kind of language in talks and articles and found that it resonated with others. He used to say that in order for us to trust this experience of God as friend, “we must move beyond our feelings of fear of God. The teaching that most older Christians received about God induced fear of God rather than the feelings invoked by the term friend. I still meet more people who fear God rather than feel warm and friendly toward God. Does the idea of friendship with God figure into your experience of religious teaching and worship? I suspect that it does not.”

He encouraged his readers to prayer this prayer of St Anselms of Canterbury every day:

Teach me to seek you,
and reveal yourself to me as I seek;
for unless you instruct me
I cannot seek you,
and unless you reveal yourself
I cannot find you.
Let me seek you in desiring you;
let me desire you in seeking you.
let me find you in loving you;
let me love you in finding you.

If you want to know more him and his books here is a link

Canon Father Anthony Charlton
Canon Father Anthony CharltonParish Priest