Peace to you!
In the last few days the subject of prayer has been a theme that keeps rising to the surface through scripture passages and while visiting with people.
For St. Therese of Lisieux, prayer is described as “a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy” (CCC #2558). To hear St. Therese’s description of prayer makes it seem like prayer is very natural and easy. It may give us the idea that for the Saints, prayer came as easy as breathing and they never had to think about it or work at it. The truth of the matter is that all the Saints, including Therese, had to keep working to develop their prayer life.
One of the great challenges to prayer for many of us today is that we lead extremely busy lives. When our minds are occupied with the details of family life and we are constantly on the move to meet the different interests and activities we enjoy, prayer can be far from the heart and mind. If we become too pragmatic in our thinking, it may seem that prayer is a waste of time because we are not accomplishing anything concrete.
One day as I was in the produce section at the grocery store picking out some tomatoes and avocados for salad, a young produce clerk there wished me a good weekend. It was Friday afternoon. I responded in kind then he mentioned he had four days off and was planning to do a road trip with friends and visit San Francisco. As he relayed the details of his plans, it became clear that it would be a hurried and hectic time. I wished him good luck getting all of it into a four day weekend. He responded—yeah, you only go around once so you have to get it all in! I smiled and nodded while I thought about how “getting it all in” is a challenge for all of us.
Our American culture places a high value on practicality and the accomplishment of goals and tasks. As a result, we can focus solely on exterior things to the detriment of keeping a healthy, grounded foundation within that allows us to keep things together. The young clerk and his friends were stuffing two weeks’ worth of activities into four days time and that means racing from one thing to the next. That kind of frenetic activity leaves no time to savor and appreciate the experiences as they happen. When life gets like that, things are a blur and we are off balance, peace is illusive and difficulties arise!
Like many of you, and the Saints, I have had to work to develop a discipline of prayer. Prayer is what keeps our inner compass pointed in the right direction. Prayer is what gives the soul peace and confident trust that God will fill in the gaps and cover details that I can’t get to. Prayer seems easy and enjoyable at times and difficult at other times. But through each day’s challenges and changes, we can discover that prayer becomes to the soul as natural as breathing is to the body and we live in the presence of God, who is the source of our energy, our joy and our peace. Begin your day with the nourishment of prayer and notice the difference! Don’t forget to breathe! God bless you always! +++ Fr. Peter