Someone asked me why I thought the little house of prayer has not either been found, purchased or rented with a reasonable rent, (rents here are the same are mortgage payments), and I thought about the answer before responding.
Several reasons: the most common thought, which is erroneous, is that God does not want this. I think that it is too easy for people to automatically think that unanswered prayer indicates that God is wanting something else. As St. Teresa of Avila notes, we are the hands of God which bring about His Will. God cannot do something if people are either not listening, not wanting to act, or waiting for someone else to act.
Daily, we pray for an end to abortion, and this has not happened for over forty years. Is that an indication that God’s wants abortion? Of course not.
Likewise, when Christians have their heads cut off in some countries, and when Christians must flee from war, and we pray that these persecutions stop, and they do not, does this mean that it is God’s Will that some good people die or some become homeless?
God’s perfect will is that we all become saints, and that the Church extends to every country on earth, bringing peace and goodwill to all humans. God’s perfect will is that no one suffers at the hands of others. God does not will our free will to choose evil. But, that is men and women do, choose evil over good..
Then, there is God’s permissive will, that will which honors the sovereignty of each person’s free will.
I compare the lack of contemplative houses today in Western nations, (except for France, which seems to have more established lay communities praying and giving retreats than any other country, rather ironically, with the great building of the cathedrals, abbeys, basilicas and monasteries of days past. What was different in the 12th-17th centuries in Europe, when most people were actually much, much poorer than now, but much, much more generous?
Musing on these times, I have come up with four reasons why people do not support contemplatives.
One, few believe that contemplative prayer is actually more important than action, but it is. Because it is hidden involvement in spiritual warfare, people do not see the real action of contemplative prayer. Catholics have lost the ability to see the need for contemplative prayer. These people do not see prayer as work.
Two, very few believe that they have need for penance and reparation for sin, which those in the past understood, and, therefore, do not give money to those who would pray for them. The denial of sin and lack of seeing the need for reparation stops charity. Some do not understand that they may need others to pray for them, daily.
Three, some Catholics do not believe that lay people should pray in the world like nuns, forgetting the great lay saints who did just that: St. Catherine of Siena, St. Rose of Lima, Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, St. Monica, and, of course, the Queen of Heaven, the Blessed Virgin Mary, who was always a lay person, not a nun, not a hermit in the desert, but a deeply virginal contemplative in the world, interceding as she does today, for all of us. Yes, she is the Bride of Christ, but all Catholics are called to come to their own level of intimacy with Christ in bridal love-all. Some, therefore, simply do not believe in prayer as a lay vocation.
I could list many more lay saints who spent most of their time praying, but one can understand that the Church needs intercession, day and night, every day of the week.
Four and last reason–people seem to want to be part of something big and splashy, instead of small and hidden. But, there could be more merit in supporting what is humble, than what is grand. I know one wealthy man who has supported a small convent of nuns for years. Few know of his generosity, but, without his charity, this small convent who not exist.
The Church, I was told by two priests lately, would be strengthened from within by little houses of prayer here and there among the nations. I still hope, pray, and wait for those who may not be responding to this great need. I thank those who have been generous, giving something towards this vision, which waits for completion.