Archive for March 30th, 2020

“ makes no difference who you are; when you wish upon a star your dreams come true.”

These lyrics were beautifully sung by Cliff Edwards playing the character of Jiminy Cricket in the original Pinocchio. It is the signature tune of the Disney Corporation (now closed during the Corona Virus crisis).

It is a tune I often sing to my granddaughter. The melody brilliantly captures our upward gazing aspiration to conquer personal fears and self-doubt. Wishing though can also go astray and become a cognitive distortion.

“Wish fulfillment” is the propensity to bring a wish to fruition in our dreams and daydreams. It is also as an instance of self–hypnosis: conjuring a thing until it convincingly shows up in one’s perception.

As the 1972 parapsychology “Phillips Experiment” showed, this form of hypnosis can happen on a group scale. The goal of the study was to “create a ghost”.

In it, a small group of eight participants studied the life of a fictional aristocrat who was said to suffer from depression who later committed suicide.

These same eight people then conducted a formal Seance. During those proceedings, they began hearing unusual noises that they soon attributed to a real poltergeist. Voilà – a ghost was born.

Magical thinking makes an appearance in evangelical Christian rhetoric about how dramatic events, such as the current pandemic, is God’s punishment for the “sinful” beliefs or actions of its victims. In these instances, the wish fulfillment is pernicious.

How can we ensure that our prayer lives reflect our awakened Heart and not magical thinking? How do we discern the difference?

Too often, petitionary prayer exemplifies magical thinking when it is recited swiftly like a childhood wishlist to “Santa Claus”. I recall someone sharing with me how they regularly pray for open parking spots in their busy city and, how, miraculously, spots just open up.

We read Jesus in Matthew 7:7 saying “ask and it shall be given”. So, are we licensed to ask for literally anything? This has been likened to turning Almighty God into a latter-day genie. I’ve been reflecting on the meaning of this teaching in the larger context of Matthew chapters 6 and 7 as an extended Lectio.

Just prior to the text about asking, seeking and receiving (Matthew 7:1-6), the disciples are admonished to not judge others “lest ye be judged”. Our hearts must be purified of our penchant for swiftly judging others if we are to enter into authentic prayer.

In chapter 6, Jesus teaches us to pray the “Our Father”.

The Christic Way of prayer begins with our total Surrender to the Beloved: “Hallowed be thy name. Thy Kingdom Come. Thy Will be done. On Earth as it is in Heaven.”

True surrender means jettisoning all of our worries and fears about finding security in worldly things. These are the attachments that weaken our resolve and make us vulnerable to the entreaties of our lesser angels. We pray: “ Give us this day our daily bread.”

Finally, we are called to expunge all anger, our passions for revenge; letting go of any thoughts of others as undeserving of our love or mercy: We pray: “ forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

When Jesus instructs us to “ ask and it shall be given, knock and it shall be opened” what more would we be asking for and seeking in the light of the “ Our Father”?

One thing only remains: the grace to experience true intimacy with the Holy Spirit absent our filters, agendas, or conceptions to impede the way. In effect, we ask for the grace to set aside our neuroses.

We bring our hearts to prayer, including the needs of those we love, with faith and Thanksgiving : all our loving intentions without expectations. We do this in the knowledge that Goodness will prevail in God’s time.

Authentic kindness, generosity, willing service and readiness to be a friend on the winding road ahead are the true marks of those who know the Prayer of the Heart. Pure prayer operates ultimately beyond words.

Prayer reveals our condition; Not God’s! It invites us to examine the nature of our relationship with Him.

Our wishes, fantasies, delusions, allusions and illusions all show up in our prayers. Over our lifetimes, our sacred task is to come back each day, again and again, to reexamine and deepen the state of our relationship with God.

It is still Lent: A good time to make a reassessment of what’s real and what’s wish -fulfillment before we reach Holy Week.

Awakening the Prayer of the Heart opens the surest path to Joy when we can join with Jiminy Cricket in full-throated singing of the final two stanzas:

If your heart is in your dreams
No request is too extreme
When you wish upon a star
As dreamers do.

Fate is kind
She brings to those who love
The sweet fulfillment of
Their secret longing.


© The Harried Mystic, 2020 and Br. Anton, TSSF. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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