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Center for Action and Contemplation

Politics: Week 1 Summary

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Politics: Week 1

Summary: Sunday, July 8-Friday, July 13, 2018

The Hebrew prophets and Jesus clearly modeled engagement with both faith and the public forum. To be a faith leader is to connect the inner and outer worlds. (Sunday)

There is no such thing as being non-political. Everything we say or do either affirms or critiques the status quo. To say nothing is to say something. (Monday)

Only the contemplative mind has the ability to hold the reality of what is and the possibility of what could be. Unless our hearts are transformed, our fears will continue to manipulate our politics, reinforcing a polarized and divided society. (Tuesday)

If we think we can say our private prayers and still genuflect before the self-perpetuating, unjust systems of this world, our conversion will not go very deep or aid in the unfolding of history. (Wednesday)

For Jesus, prayer seems to be a matter of waiting in love, returning to love, trusting that love is the unceasing stream of reality. Prayer isn’t primarily words; it’s an attitude, a stance, a state that precedes “saying” any individual prayers. (Thursday)

The necessary detachment from this ugly and injurious present political climate depends upon our inner attachment to the mystery of God’s unbounded grace and divine, creative love. —Wes Granberg-Michaelson (Friday)


Practice: Becoming What We Pray

Today I share two prayers that I hope you will allow to become more than just words—but rather a way of being in the world. If you can, read and sing them aloud. Then reflect on how you might practice outwardly your inner intentions and desires.

Several years ago, I wrote this simple prayer on the anniversary of the September 11 attacks. I recognized how our fears had shaped the way we see brown and Muslim faces—not as images of God, but as terrorists (even though most “terrorists” in the United States are white men wielding guns). We need grace to change our thinking and seeing so that we can work for the good of all rather than demonizing the “other”:

God of all races, nations, and religions,
You know that we cannot change others,
Nor can we change the past.
But we can change ourselves.
We can join you in changing our only
And common future where Love “reigns”
The same over all.
Help us not to say, “Lord, Lord” to any nationalist gods,
But to hear the One God of all the earth,
And to do God’s good thing for this One World. [1]

Father James Marchionda, a friend and Dominican priest, composed a beautiful song that may be familiar to many Catholic readers. The words are true regardless of your faith, denomination, or political party: “When our politics embody what we pray, then the world will be transformed.” The refrain goes like this:

It’s not up to God alone to listen to prayer.
It’s not up to God alone to answer.
But when the people of God become what we pray,
the kingdom of God is revealed. [2]

The audio recording and full lyrics are no longer available in this archive. See reference information below.

[1] Adapted from Richard Rohr, “Prayer of the Day,” Sojourners,

[2] James V. Marchionda, “Becoming What We Pray,” Family, Friends, and God (World Library Publications, 2007), Master track provided courtesy of the publisher. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

For Further Study:
Parker J. Palmer, Healing the Heart of Democracy (Jossey-Bass: 2011, 2014)
Richard Rohr, Contemplative Prayer (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2007), CDMP3 download
Richard Rohr, Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer (The Crossroad Publishing Company: 1999)
Richard Rohr and others, “Politics and Religion,” Oneing, vol. 5 no. 2 (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2017)

Image credit: Dorothy Day OblSB (1897-1980) was an American journalist, social activist, and Catholic convert. She became a key figure in the Catholic Worker Movement and earned a national reputation as a political radical. Learn more at
Inspiration for this week’s banner image:
As long as we unquestioningly buy into the egoic system, where the roots of our narcissism often lie hidden, we’re going to have problems. If we think we can say our private prayers and still genuflect before the self-perpetuating, unjust systems of this world, our conversion will not go very deep or aid in the unfolding of history. Dorothy Day was not afraid to say it strongly: “We need to change the system. We need to overthrow, not the government, . . . but this rotten, decadent, putrid industrial capitalist system which breeds such suffering.” —Richard Rohr
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