Per Caritatem

Below are links to Archbishop Rowan Williams’ Holy Week lectures (HT, Jason at Per Crucem ad Lucem).   I recently listened to lecture one, in which Williams discusses three early church figures and their insights on prayer:  Origen, Gregory of Nyssa and John Cassian.  For all three saints, the Lord’s Prayer plays a huge role in teaching us how to pray. From Origen, Williams highlights praying “in Jesus” to the Father.  From Gregory of Nyssa, we see how prayer is closely connected to our various relationship with others.  A solid prayer life, in other words, makes us people who want to be reconciled with others.  Turning to Cassian, the Archbishop leaves us with some practical advice to help us when we become distracted in prayer (as is so often the case).  To help us re-focus when distracting thoughts enter, pray, as did Cassian this short, easy-to-recall phrase, “Oh God, make speed to save me.”   Also, Cassian advises, it’s better to begin with a commitment to frequent, short, yet focused times of prayer than to attempt three-hour sessions of prayer.  As one who struggles to maintain a consistent prayer life and who wants to grow in this area, I found these reflections exceedingly helpful and inspiring.

Lecture 1: The Early Church

Lecture 2: Reformers, Catholic & Protestant

Lecture 3: The Quest for God in the Modern Age


4 Responses so far

Maybe the ‘trick’ is to retain or recapture our wonder. In the words of Lewis: “The possibility of personal intercourse between the little, hairless bipeds called Men and the inconceivable, self-existent Being which underlies all phenomena and all space and time…is in a sense outrageous, not to be thought of without amazement and trembling….”


[…] lectures this year were on the subject of prayer, and I can strongly recommend checking them out. Per Caritatem has links to the MP3s. The three lectures look at prayer in the early church, in the Reformation era, and in the 20th […]


These topics can be found also in his great book concerning a history of Christian Spirituality “Wound of Knowledge.”


There are many different types of prayer. I think too often people confuse prayer in general with petitionary prayer, which is really only one type. I like the comment above quoting from CS Lewis.

Thanks for posting the mp3 files, I have downloaded them for later listening. Did you see Rowan Williams’ Christmas message? If you hurry it is still available on BBC iPlayer. I may not agree with all of his theology, but he has got his priorities right, and I think his poetry is excellent too.