A response to an inner music

Ancient philosophers believed that as the sun, moon and planets travelled through space, each created a distinct melody – the music of the spheres. Though human ears could not hear it, the music shaped what happened on earth.

Christians believe that the Spirit of God fills the universe with a song that touches all creatures beyond their understanding. Our instinctive response is prayer. The welling up of wonder at the beauty of the Starry Way, the lifting of the heart at the sight of a mother carrying her newborn, the plea for an old friend facing death – prayer comes in many forms.

Playing in the orchestra

Even child prodigies need to learn to play the piano. So too do we need to learn to pray. Parents are often our first teachers, followed by school or church. Prayer draws us outwards, from learning to see our own needs, to seeing the needs of others.

We find numerous examples of prayer in ancient formulas, liturgies and books. Prayer is an art, and like any art it demands practice and discipline. Just as elite athletes need to train for 10,000 hours to compete at the highest level, we need many hours of practice to perfect the art of prayer.

There will be times of discouragement, boredom and dryness. But if we persist with praying, we can eventually become like Yehudi Menuhin on his violin or Jacqueline du Pre on her cello, playing soaring melodies without the need for a score.

Christians gradually absorb the stories told by Jesus, the teachings of the Bible and the lessons of the saints. After long reflection, there’s less and less need for words – prayer becomes like spending time with our best friend. Eventually, even the need for success may cease and prayer becomes its own reward. We become part of the music of creation.

Father Neil Vaney



Next steps

This writing is based on the content of ‘What Catholics Believe’, Booklet 1, ‘Life Of Faith’ referencing page 9. Should you like to read more just click either of the links below to download ‘Booklet 2’ or the complete set of ‘What Catholics Believe’.