BARROW: We are Capex Dei - Capacity for God

March 14, 2023

A prayer grotto is seen at St. Ambrose Catholic Church in Houston. (Photo by James Ramos/Herald)

We are Capex Dei, or perhaps it is better to say we have the capacity for God. The deepest and innermost part of our very being is this capacity for God. This capacity, gifted to us by God as His rational creation, craves fulfillment and is indelible in the human heart. Sometimes, we may not recognize what we crave or to whom we crave.

This deep yearning and movement toward God needs satisfaction to be truly happy in this life. Satisfaction should only be sought in God, and one way to tap into our Capex Dei is through prayer. St. Augustine said, prayer is the language of the heart’s yearning for God, it is the interpreter of the heart’s desire, and I agree.

Every Tuesday at noon, as I have done since May 2020, I pray the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary, albeit online with others. My hope is that it continues on, eventually in a blended format of in-person and virtual. I love this prayer because of its simplicity, it highlights the Gospels of Jesus Christ, and it has power. The Lord’s Prayer, the Hail Mary, and the Glory Be are, in my opinion, fundamental and formative to our pilgrimage on Earth.

We can never exhaust the use of these prayers in silent meditation or speech. At any given point in our lives, we should be able to recite or contemplate these prayers with ease and as often as possible. It is a beautiful way to ground ourselves in an unceasing posture of openness to our God. The Rosary is one way to open ourselves to the Capex Dei within our hearts.

I recently had a one-on-one conversation with a college student at Texas Southern University about prayer. The student is a graduating senior, and the spring semester was supposed to be the last. All sorts of obstacles reared their heads — from the unavailability of classes necessary for graduation to a mishap with financial aid and strained relationships with family and friends.

Needless to say, a myriad of challenges appeared within a short period of time. We sat down for what seemed like hours, and most of the conversation contained phrases like, I pray that I can graduate on time, I hope and pray that my financial aid is corrected, I pray that God deals with my family so they can see my point of view.

I decided to guide the conversation toward the beauty and simplicity of the Lord’s Prayer. I asked the student more about their prayer life, and honestly, most college students I encounter, although comfortable speaking in general with others, find it debilitating to talk to God.
I pray when I can and if I need to, are words I often hear, and in this conversation, we discussed the seven petitions of the Lord’s Prayer and that even our own spontaneous prayers can mirror the perfect example offered by our Lord Jesus. It occurred to me that as the conversation continued, we were actually in the act of praying.

Our minds and hearts were fixed on God. Our conversation was about God and with God. I believe if more of our conversations were oriented this way, lives would be transformed.

It is safe to say that it is perfectly fine to make a prayer request that I learn to pray well and ask the Lord to touch the hearts of others to pray well and in confidence — especially college students. When the first disciples asked Jesus to teach us to pray, it was a petition, and I propose it could be considered a prayer. (Lk 11:1)

The next time we offer up prayers to God, let us consider the petition that we learn to pray well, pray often, and pray with confidence because we all have the Capex Dei (capacity for God) to do so. 

Doris M. Barrow III is the director and campus minister at the Texas Southern University Catholic Newman Center.