Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Colbert Report: A Mother who prayed... We see who Jesus is if we see him at Prayer


Stephen Colbert opened Wednesday night’s show with a tribute to his mom, who died last week at the age of 92.

This is the transcript of his speech. 

Hi everybody. Thanks for being here tonight, everybody in here and out there watching. I’ve been away from the Report for a week because one week ago today, my mother, Lorna Tuck Colbert died. And I want to thank everybody who offered their thoughts and prayers. Now if you watch this show, and you like this show, that’s because of everybody who works here and I’m lucky to be one of them. But when you watch the show, if you also like me, that’s because of my mom. So before we start the show again, I’d like to tell you a little bit about her. She was born just a little ways from here in Larchmont, NY on Chatsworth Ave. in 1920, the same week women first got the right to vote. She spent her summers in the Adirondacks with her older sister Colleen and her younger brother Ed, who called her Snodgrass. She met my father James at age 12 at cotillion and she liked him, but she didn’t want him to know how much, so she would make her friends ride their bikes all the way across town to pass by his house, but then she’d never look to see if he was in the front yard, which of course drove her friends crazy. And evidently she also drove my father crazy because they were married and promptly had 11 children. She made a very loving home for us. No fight between siblings could end without hugs and kisses, although hugs never needed a reason in her house. Singing and dancing were encouraged, except at the dinner table. She’d trained to be an actress when she was younger and she would teach us to do stage falls by pretending to faint on the kitchen floor. She was fun. She knew more than her share of tragedy, losing her brother and her husband and three of her sons. But her love for her family and her faith in God somehow gave her the strength not only to go on but to love life without bitterness and instill in all of us a gratitude for every day we have together. And I know it may sound greedy to want more days with a person who lived so long, but the fact that my mother was 92 does not diminish, it only magnifies, the enormity of the room whose door has now quietly shut. In her last days, my mother occasionally became confused, and to try to ground her we asked simple questions, like what’s your favourite colour, what’s your favourite song. She couldn’t answer these. But when asked what her favourite prayer was, she immediately recited A Child’s Prayer, in German, that she used to say to my eldest brothers and sisters at bedtime when they we living in Munich in the late 1940s. Her favourite memory of prayer was a young mother tucking in her children. We were the light of her life, and she let us know it ‘til the end. And that’s it. Thank you for listening. Now we can get to the truly important work of television broadcasting, which is what she would want me to do. When I was leaving her last week, I leaned over and I said, “mom, I’m going back to New York to do the show,” and she said “I can’t wait to see it. I wouldn’t miss it for the world.” So, with that in mind… this is the Colbert Report. 

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, before he was Pope Benedict XVI, wrote a book entitled "Behold the Pierced One."  The whole thesis of his book is that "We see who Jesus is when we see Him in prayer." He goes on to say that "the center of the life and person of Jesus is his constant communication with the Father."

Here's some of my favorite quotes from the book:  

For the entire gospel testimony is unanimous that Jesus’ words and deeds flowed from his most intimate communion with the Father; continually went “into the hills” to pray in solitude after the burden of the day (e.g., Mk 1:35; 6:46; 14:35, 39). 

Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed. -Mark 1:35

And when he had taken leave of them, he went off to the mountain to pray. When it was evening, the boat was far out on the sea and he was alone on shore. -Mark 6:46

He advanced a little and fell to the ground and prayed that if it were possible the hour might pass by him; he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible to you. Take this cup away from me, but not what I will but what you will.” -Mark 14:35-36

Withdrawing again, he prayed, saying the same thing. -Mark 14:39


Luke, of all the Evangelists, lays stress on this feature. He shows that the essential events of Jesus’ activity proceeded from the core of his personality and that this core was his dialogue with the Father. 

Jesus had spent the night which preceded this event at prayer on the mountain: the calling of the Twelve proceeds from prayer, from the Son’s converse with the Father. 

Again it is Luke who shows that Jesus put the crucial question of how the disciples stood toward him at the very moment when they had begun to share in the hiddenness of his prayer. 

Peter had grasped and expressed the most fundamental reality of the person of Jesus as a result of having seen him praying, in fellowship with the Father. 

According to Luke, we see who Jesus is if we see him at prayer. sharing in what is most personal and intimate to him. very basis and the abiding precondition of the Christian confession of faith: only by entering into Jesus’ solitude, only by participating in what is most personal to him, his communication with the Father, can one see what this most personal reality is; only thus can one penetrate to his identity. 

This is the only way to understand him and to grasp what “following Jesus” means.

The person who has beheld Jesus’ intimacy with his Father and has come to understand him from within is called to be a “rock” of the Church. 

In the Gospels, “the mountain” is always the realm of prayer, of being with the Father. Thus he makes it plain that the Transfiguration only renders visible what is actually taking place in Jesus’ prayer: he is sharing in God’s radiance and hence in the manner in which the true meaning of the Old Testament—and of all history—is being made visible, i.e., revelation. 

The entire person of Jesus is contained in his prayer. the prayer of Jesus on the Mount of Olives, which, now that the hour of his Passion has begun to strike, has become the mountain of his solitude with the Father. 

The “Abba” with which Jesus addresses God... goes beyond every mode of prayer then known; it expresses a familiarity with God which would have appeared impossible and unseemly to the Jewish tradition.

Jesus died praying. He fashioned his death into an act of prayer, an act of worship. profound interpretation of Jesus’ death, which he himself had given it. they all agree that the last words of Jesus were an expression of his devotion to his Father and that his cry was not uttered to anyone, anywhere, but to Him, since it was of his innermost essence to be in a dialogue relationship with the Father. his dying was itself an act of prayer, his death was a handing-over of himself to the Father. Jesus prayed in the words of Scripture and that Scripture became flesh in him, 

Since the center of the person of Jesus is prayer, it is essential to participate in his prayer if we are to know and understand him. The fundamental act of religion is prayer. 

Prayer is the central act of the person of Jesus and, indeed, this person is constituted by the act of prayer, of unbroken communication with the one he calls “Father”. If this is the case, it is only possible really to understand this person by entering into this act of prayer, by participating in it. 

[We come to know Jesus from the experience] of prayer or not at all.  The liturgy itself can only be celebrated properly if it is prepared for, and accompanied by, that meditative “abiding” in which the heart begins to see and to understand.  (My note: The Church actually expects that we come to mass prepared and having prayed all week: Spent time in solitude, dialogued with the Father, meditated upon the upcoming Sunday readings, spent time before mass fasting and really being present in the Liturgy.)

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According to Luke, we see who Jesus is if we see him at prayer. 

Your friends, family see Jesus when they see YOU in prayer.  There was nothing more important for Jesus than that intimate prayer with the Father and there is nothing more important for us than prayer time in solitude with the Lord.  

Stephen Colbert got to glimpse this with the last fading memory of his mother: 
In her last days, my mother occasionally became confused, and to try to ground her we asked simple questions, like what’s your favourite colour, what’s your favourite song. She couldn’t answer these. But when asked what her favourite prayer was, she immediately recited A Child’s Prayer, in German, that she used to say to my eldest brothers and sisters at bedtime when they we living in Munich in the late 1940s. Her favourite memory of prayer was a young mother tucking in her children. 

Our Holy Father Emeritus, Pope Benedict wrote that the "very basis and the abiding precondition of the Christian confession of faith: by entering into Jesus’ solitude, only by participating in what is most personal to him, his communication with the Father, can one see what this most personal reality is; only thus can one penetrate to his identity. This is the only way to understand him and to grasp what “following Jesus” means. The person who has beheld Jesus’ intimacy with his Father and has come to understand him from within is called to be a “rock” of the Church Once when Jesus was praying in solitude."  

Peter, in today's gospel came to know who Jesus truly was after witnessing him in prayer.  

We can only truly come to know Jesus by entering into this same solitude.  


When is the last time you went away to the mountain to pray?  

When is the last time you went into the desert of silence?  

When is the last time you spent some substantial time in solitude?  

Do you "make" the time to pray every day?  

It is only in prayer that we will ever truly come to know as Peter did that Jesus is truly the Christ, the Son of God.  

jesus praying alone

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