Able to Pray: a Reflection on Eric Gioia’s Colloquy

By Fumiko Sakakibara, Current Student, Master of Arts, ’19 (anticipated)

A few years ago, I saw a woman falling down on her knees in a church’s thrift shop as she found a pair of trainers on sale. She cried loudly, “thank you Lord! I needed a pair of shoes and here they are! Oh thank you, thank you Jesus!” seeing this, another woman shopper said, “I used to be able to pray like that.”

Above, Sakakibara, signs Matriculation Book in September 2018.

Above, Sakakibara, signs Matriculation Book in September 2018.

Dr. Gioia talked about prayer. In his Theological Epistemology of Augustine’s De Trinitate (2008) he took the readers through the forest of Augustine’s writing. We so often hear the comments about Augustine, even before we actually read the text, but Dr. Gioia invites us to encounter Augustine afresh, by actually listening to what he says. I think we read the great doctors and saints, because through their minds we want to know about God and what our relationship with God can be. Dr. Gioia pointed to the firsthand experience we have and asked us to explore what is actually happening in us when we are praying. He offered stories of how God touches us even before we start trusting and loving God. Striking the balance between the apophatic and kataphatic, he suggested how our “knowing feelings” can be the locus of God’s such action, inspiring many questions of old and new. I left the room feeling content and puzzled at the same time, thinking, maybe there is no “right” way to pray? We need to cultivate our own way of praying, then to discover yet again that God was holding us all the while.