St. Rafael Arnáiz Barón on prayer

I imagine all humanity in a great valley…immense and filled with sunlight. All people are in it, coming and going, moving and shouting… God is atop a mountain, from which he reigns over the valley, which is more immense than the sea… The men and women who are in it see the summit of the mountain where God is, but they do not see Him…

From the immense multitude, which is all humanity, a thunderous clamor reaches the peak of the mountain where God is… These are the conversations of men, their music mixed with war cries, sighs of sorrow and shrieks of joy, the echo of tambourines, the whistling of factories, electric motors, shouts from plazas and circuses, millions and millions of discussions, conversations, lectures, cinemas, and theatres; all this uproar capable of driving anyone other than God insane, reaches the peak of the mountain…but there it stops; God does not hear it. All this noise he scorns; it offends him and he does not hear it…

So what does he listen to? Why does God not clear out the whole crowd of people with one breath, since all they do is make an intolerable commotion?

It seems that something is stopping God. He is listening contentedly to something. Is it a whisper? No…you can hardly hear it…So what is it?…

We start to look out carefully at the people in the valley and we see some who do not shout, nor argue, nor do they run or strike blows with a hammer…What are they doing? It seems like they are not doing anything… They are silent and on their knees… The rest look at them and are surprised; they bother them sometimes as they pass, or they make fun of them, or avoid them… But they continue in silence and on their knees… So let us go and ask them, what are you doing? Why don’t you join us in progress, in civilization? … And then they say to us, “Quiet, brother, don’t make noise while I’m talking to God…”

St. Rafael Arnáiz Barón
Apología del Trapense / The Trappist’s Apologia
Oviedo, 1934
(fuente / source; translation mine)

Published by Catherine Addington

I am a translator from Spanish to English and a writer on saints, myths, and icons in both religious and secular contexts.

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