FRIDAY HOMILY: A Life of Devotion
is comes from prayer -
In the "Catechism of the Catholic Church" we read, Jesus often draws apart to pray in solitude, on a mountain, preferably at night. He includes all men in his prayer, for he has taken on humanity in his incarnation, and he offers them to the Father when he offers himself. (CCC 2602)
In "Friends of God," St. Jose Maria Escriva writes, Forgive me if I insist but it is very important to note carefully what the Messiah did, because he came to show us the path that leads to the Father.
With our Lord we will discover how to give a supernatural dimension to all our actions, even those that seem least important. We will learn to live every moment of our lives with a lively awareness of eternity, and we will understand more deeply man's need for periods of intimate conversation with his God.
St. Escriva also wrote, To pray is to talk to God, but about what? About Him, about yourself; joys, sorrows, successes, and failures, noble ambitions, daily worries, weaknesses! And acts of thanksgiving and petitions: and Love and reparation. In a word: to get to know Him and to get to know yourself: to get acquainted.
Second, Jesus also sees prayer as a means of demonstration. He wants all men to pray but to pray with specific approaches in mind. He condemns those who parade their piety and pray in front of the crowds.
His own prayer life became the witness that caused His disciples to ask that he teach them to pray. As disciples, they wanted to pray the same way he did. It was at that time that he taught them the "Our Father." He wanted us to be fully aware of the supernatural dimension of life, that "real life" is not merely the realm of the visible but the invisible. In prayer, we can touch eternity.
Prayer was also always important to Him as preparation.
The Catechism states, The Gospel according to St. Luke emphasizes the action of the Holy Spirit and the meaning of prayer in Christ's ministry. Jesus prays before the decisive moments of his mission: before his Father's witness to him during his baptism and Transfiguration, and before his own fulfillment of the Father's plan of love by his Passion. He also prays before the decisive moments involving the mission of his apostles: at his election and call of the Twelve, before Peter's confession of him as "the Christ of God," and again that the faith of the chief of the Apostles may not fail when tempted. Jesus' prayer before the events of salvation that the Father has asked him to fulfill is a humble and trusting commitment of his human will to the loving will of the Father. (CCC 2600)
In preparation for these events, time in prayer was not so much a matter of telling His Father what He wanted but to be sure His will was aligned with the Father. As He stated in the Garden of Gethsemane - "not my will but yours be done."
These three aspects of prayer are important for us to follow. First, we need to continually develop our personal relationship with God. Prayer - maintaining communion - is essential to our life as Christians as we seek to live supernatural lives rather than simply being limited to the natural. Such is the gift of prayer.
We also can learn from his demonstration, being reminded of the great treasure of prayers and approaches he has opened up for us.
I often bring up the way we pray the "Our Father" when talking to people about spiritual formation. As Catholics, we often pray it very fast and without much meaning. Jesus made a special attempt to show us how unique and special this prayer can be, which deserves our attention.
As St. John Chrysostom noted, "What prayer could be more true before God the Father than that which the Son, who is Truth, uttered with His own lips?"
When we take the time to slow down and actually pray this prayer, it can lead us on an adventure in building our relationship with God the Father. It marches us through the great themes of Adoration, Provision, Intercession, Contrition, Thanksgiving and much more. It is the most perfect prayer ever prayed.
Then, there is preparation, which brings us back to the original focus of this section of the Gospel. For all that would follow the healing of the leper - future ministry, conflict, misunderstanding, leadership, direction, etc. - prayer would be needed to prepare Christ for what lay ahead. How much more for us!
Martin Luther may not be a very popular figure to quote in a lot of areas. There is, however, an attribute given him regarding prayer that bears repeating. He is said to have stated, "I have so much to do that I shall have to spend three hours in prayer."
Whatever our preparation, our Lord needs to be a part of it. Normally, we are prone to say, "I have so much to do today, I need to wait and pray tomorrow. I need the time today for work."
When we get the equation right; how much better life becomes. Prayer can be a time of transformation as well as anticipation when we are getting ready for what lies ahead.
Pope John Paul II summarized it well. "Prayer gives us strength for great ideals, for keeping up our faith, charity, purity, generosity; prayer gives us strength to rise up from indifference and guilt, if we have had the misfortune to give in to temptation and weakness. Prayer gives us light by which to see and to judge from God's perspective and from eternity. That is why you must not give up on praying!"
Father Randy Sly is the Associate Editor of Catholic Online and a priest with the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter (http://usordinariate.org) established by the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, through the Apostolic Constitution "Anglicanorum Coetibus."
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: prayer, intercession, Jesus, devotion, ministry
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