Here is a short extract from an email received recently.
When I was a smallish boy I would speed on my bike to a 06:30 Sunday mass that was in Latin (which I liked) and devoid of a sermon (which I liked even more). It was a small chapel in which nuns were always in silent prayer 24 hours a day. Somehow I thought that was good, holding the world together in ways I couldn’t understand. Perhaps you do something similar.
In my reply to the above I picked up on merit, the circulation of spiritual merit, which is what I understand silent prayer to be about.
Put in simple language, the way I understand merit is ‘good’ generates ‘good’ and the moving of good is through intention. Further, the circulation of good comes about because there is no separate abiding individual self. Since nothing is separate in the fundamental sense, and with Mind infinite, intentional prayer helps the world at a level of functioning which isn’t easily understood by reason. How merit works is mysterious. Anyway however unknowable spiritual merit may be that doesn’t stop merit washing over and through the world. To the benefit of all, like it or not.
I love that the nuns were seen to be in prayer 24 hours a day. In rotation I’d hope! In the days when that was possible it gave people, you as a young boy, a glimpse of the religious life and of course threw up the spiritual question, Why and what are they doing? Even though the religious life is now less on the streets and in the churches, to be seen and wondered at, I feel there is still an intuitive appreciation of its value. Maybe this is because the impulse towards altruism is, must be, built into our makeup. Living an intentional life, with the intention to be the best person one can be, to be kind, generous etc. does help people and not simply on the level of a smile or a wave or cash transferred to a good cause.
With Bows, Mugo
(the original text has been extensively edited)