The prayer of women - ​The Editorial

2017-06-01 L’Osservatore Romano

Prayer is part of the Christian life of every baptized man and woman, in accordance with the invitation of Jesus himself who asks of us ceaseless prayers: “Watch at all times, praying” (Lk 21:34-36). Prayer is the way for every disciple of Jesus, man or woman, to find the principle of unification in their own lives. In prayer each one of us can learn to feel constantly in communion with God, to perceive him- or herself as a dwelling place of the Lord. We thus understand that prayer is a living relationship and that it develops in the space of a face to face encounter, of acquaintanceship.

Sebastiana Papa Estonia 1996 (from the book “Le Repubbliche delle Donne”, Postcart/iccd 2013

From the very beginning of the history of Israel as the People of the Covenant we are told of a prayer made in a special way by women: a prayer of praise, of supplication, of devotion. Miriam (cf. Ex 15:20-21), Deborah (cf. Judg 5), Hannah (cf. 1 Sam 1:1-27; 2:1-10), and Judith (Jud 9) were women of prayer. So does a specifically feminine form of prayer exist? It is undeniable and obvious that in Christianity women have always played a central role in prayer, they have taught how to pray, they have been responsible for prayer and for the transmission of a practice of prayer and above all they have passed on a sound trust in the force of prayer.

Prayer as a relationship is what the women who meet Jesus in the Gospel narratives experience. They are courageous, insistent women who do not give up, women who ask, who implore but who also listen and ask questions, they are women who seek this relationship and want to know Jesus: women who after this encounter, having come to know God and the Spirit through prayer, make this relationship the solid ground in which to root their lives as disciples.

This care, this attention is special in the women who are able in prayer to orientate their desire to God and thus, coming out of themselves, succeed in directing their gazes, hearts and minds to the other and in making room for a continuous encounter with otherness. We might say that for women, who bring forth life, prayer, as constant attention to the presence of the Other, becomes life itself. This is witnessed by the case of Macrina, a fourth-century Desert Mother, in her Life (25, 5): “She exhaled a strong, deep breath and her prayer and her life came to an end”. (elisa zamboni)