How I pray: with Michael Byrne
I pray in a variety of ways. A lot of it I do through meditation. I attend Adoration on Monday mornings. I do a lot of conscious praying and listening. I pray on the way to work and in my spare time. On weekends we do church. You’ve got to be careful of asking too much from God… sometimes you’ve got to say, “Thank you.”
Without my faith I’d be a nasty piece of work. Faith gives me some boundaries. It gives me parameters to make choices by. There are a lot of opportunities in this world to do greedy and selfish things. If you don’t have something to measure that behaviour against you could easily go down the wrong path.
I’ve been with the Personal Advocacy Service for four years. PAS provides a spiritual path for people with intellectual disabilities. I have been the advocate for Michael since I joined. I focus on the friendship side rather than the spiritual side.
Michael is Greek Orthodox. It’s still in tune with what we are trying to do. He is very aware of God and all the work I do with him is with regard to that. I also go out with Michael socially.
I joined PAS because I wanted to give someone my time, to contribute something if you like. I was at Church and one of the PAS advocates got up and spoke about their work.
I was very hesitant and uncertain about what I was getting myself into. But I rang one of the representatives that evening and asked her to tell me more about it. I decided to get involved.
‘Advocates’ refers to members who reach out to people with the disabilities or as we call them our friends. The advocates meet fortnightly. We discuss General Business, have some reflective readings on daily life and then we do a spiritual exercise. Our friends don’t attend this.
Every alternate week both advocates and friends do some quiet activities. We try to bring the tempo down a little bit. Sometimes we talk about the things that have gone on during the week. Afterwards we go into the chapel and do a spiritual exercise or reflection. That helps us focus on God. We follow this with agape which is basically supper. We talk and then we drive our friends home.
For the spiritual exercise we have a theme, like Jesus as our Shepherd. We might take a photograph for example. As a pair we comment on what that means in terms of the theme. Then we have spontaneous prayers. We usually try to keep it in line with the theme.
Our friends don’t always stay on that theme which can be humorous. We end with some songs.
I think of it as putting my faith to work.
I admire Mother Teresa and how she put into practice what she believed. Her way of life reflects what I try to do.
People like me can learn quite a lot from our PAS friends. You don’t have to understand everything to do with faith.
There are some things that we are never going to understand. Trying is all you’re expected to do.
The fact that you can’t understand doesn’t diminish God’s reality or power.
When it comes to faith we are all on equal footing.