by Emily A., volunteer in Buenos Aires
The other day we went to visit a very special friend. Mario is a ten-year-old boy who suffers severely from behavioral problems. Because of his hyperactivity and his tendency to violence he has no friends. Before, he would come once in a while to play at our house in the afternoon, but because of the cruelty of some of the other children he stopped coming. He pretty much stopped leaving of his house all together except to go to school. And school for him is a nightmare. So to escape his reality he turned to computer games, and that’s all he does all day. So instead of running around outside he spends all day cooped up playing very violent games which only serve to aggravate his current condition. His mother is content with this because he’s off the street: boys of his type who spend too much time on the street are very often given drugs. It’s some kind of sick entertainment for older boys to watch a crazy hyperactive child doing whatever in a drugged haze.
So we went to visit Mario in his computer solitude. We passed a good ten minutes trying to coax him off the machine, but he was very focused on his virtual world. After a while I went over to him to talk for a bit. And, being a ten- year-old boy, he forgot to offer me a chair. So I knelt there on the floor beside him as he showed me the countless old nineties games he really enjoyed. After a while his eighteen-year-old sister passed by and said "Mario go get her a chair. It looks like she’s praying!" I smiled up at her and assured her it was ok, that she didn’t have to worry. After a while we finally got him off the computer and into the main room and passed a good while just chatting.
After this visit, I couldn’t stop thinking about what his sister said—"it looks like she’s praying." I realized I had in fact been praying. We too often forget that the act of being with someone, of showing love and compassion, can be one of the strongest most beautiful prayers we can offer God. “My daughter, you gave me greater pleasure by rendering me that service than if you had prayed for a long time,” (words of Jesus to St. Faustina).
In today’s world, we have reduced prayer to concrete words repeated doggedly to an impersonal god. Prayer in this way resembles a dry skeleton. It has the form of existence, and makes up a very important part of the whole of the body, but it lacks blood, flesh, soul, heart—life. We so often forget that God is not far, He’s right with us and wants to personally love us and to be loved by us. And one way I can really love Him is by being with others; I can hug Him by hugging another, laugh with Him by laughing with another, cry with Him by crying with another. For when you love someone, you do not just say I love you—you live it with every fiber of your being, every second of every day, in the difficult and the beautiful, in the big and in the small.