(The Nationalist, 29 June 2001)
Praying on the Web sounds like a batty idea until you try it. Since the Irish Jesuits set up their site at www.sacredspace.ie two years ago, more than 1.8 million people have logged on. Yes, 1.8 million plus! That is an awful lot of people, and it shows how much people want to pray. About 4,500 do it every day.
What do you get when you log on? If it’s your first time using it, you get a short run-through to help you with the process, which, in any case, is very easy – you just follow the directions on the screen. A prayer for each day and a scripture reading are provided. But they help you to enter into the process rather than merely read a prayer off the screen. You are invited to become part of it. For example, guidance on various themes is provided by contemporary writers. There are exercises to help you to listen better, and there are breathing and body exercises to help you relax and be more receptive, since body, mind and soul are all part of the one person.
There are references which you can easily follow up to related Websites, such as www. 24-7 prayer.com/ and GettingMarried.ie, which provides information on marrying in the Catholic Church, another called LivingSpace which gives resources on prayer, scripture and life, and a special one for students called www.SoulSearching.ie. There’s a feast of information, ideas, helps and directions to follow up. People also use it to ask others anonymously to pray for them. There’s also a slot where you can give feedback and, if your preference is for prayer in Irish, Japanese, Lithuanian, Spanish, or Italian, all you have to do is click on the name of the language and you’re there.
There’s a whole lot more besides this. It’s really a very good resource, especially for people who are very busy, who find it difficult even to pray in the car or bus on the way to work but who can grab a few minutes before settling down for the day.
It’s great to see such good use being made of the Web. And congratulations to the Jesuits for doing the job. May we see more of it.