Prayer as a Political Problem
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By Jean Daniélou
“And never the twain shall meet”: Kipling’s famous line might well describe current conventional wisdom on the relationship between church and state. To political bodies skeptical of the virtues of religion and to religious communities suspicious of the tolerance of government, a harmonious—let alone symbiotic—association seems the stuff of either utopia or dystopian dreams. In the face of these apprehensions, Jean Daniélou asserts that man’s social nature and religious nature are interdependent. As a result, “the essence of civilization [is] to allow man to reach his full development, and that this development applies also to the religious dimension.” Thus, religion—specifically, prayer—must be a constitutive element of society.
The task of politics is to assure to men a city in which it will be possible to fulfill themselves completely, to have a full material, fraternal, and spiritual life. It is for this reason that…prayer is a political problem; for a city which would make prayer impossible would fail to fulfill its role as a city.
As timely now as when first published in 1967, Prayer as a Political Problem is an indispensable manual for all at work in improving and sanctifying the secular order, even as they await in hope the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven.
Jean Daniélou, S.J., (1905–1974) was among the leading theologians of the twentieth century. Renowned for his scholarship in the field of Patristics, Daniélou was the author of numerous works, including The Advent of Salvation, The Lord of History, and the three-volume History of Early Christian Doctrine.