I did this as a video on my Autistic priest YouTube channel. I include my script below the video.
I think both being a priest and being autistic help with providing a background for autistic prayer in a book like God loves the Autistic Mind. Let’s look being a priest then being autistic.
As a priest and a religious, I have a special role among God’s people to lead others to God. There is a different experience you get of the sacraments when presiding that is hard to explain. I think as a priest, through things like confession and spiritual direction, you gain insight into the spiritual life more generally and not just about your own experience.
Religious life is supposed to point others towards the resurrection as after the second coming, we’ll all live poverty, chastity and obedience. St. Matthew say, “In the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.” (22:30) As a religious, I am meant to light the path through my model of life.
To be a priest or religious, you also need to study a lot of spiritual theology which gives me a background of prayer in general against which to talk about Autistic prayer. Obviously, others also study spiritual theology or prayer life, but I think it is most incumbent on priests and religious. Being a priest and religious gives me a lived experience of this prayer.
We are all called to holiness and to lead others to Jesus, but the priest has a special role. In the past, some thought of priests as kind of sacramental vending machines Vatican II said, “priests… have the primary duty of proclaiming the Gospel of God to all.” (Presbyterorum Ordinis 4) Proclaiming the Gospel to all would logically include proclaiming it to autistic people. So often the Church has not adapted the Gospel to autistic people’s needs. When I studied the evangelization of different cultures you see different stages where first missionaries come from outside then those inside the culture become the evangelizers. I hope as an autistic priest, I can be part of that second stage.
Finally, being autistic, I see autistic prayer from the inside. This allows a deeper understanding of autistic prayer than someone studying it outside. I don’t approach this simply as a point of study but form my own experience. I tried to get many other autistic people’s prayer experience to flesh out the book, but even analyzing those as autistic who regularly prays myself is different from someone else analyzing their prayer experiences.
I think my perspective as a priest, a religious and an autistic can help describe autistic prayer. I hope it helps others on the spectrum develop their own prayer life.