Great reflection from Fr. Matthew on how we should pray and why we should pray. It got me thinking more about, what direction I should go to grow in my faith.
We start with the prayer in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Come Holy Spirit be present to us to give us a taste for what is true and a love for what is beautiful and a thirst for all that is good. Hail Mary full of grace the Lord is with Thee Blessed art Thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus Holy Mary Mother of God pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death, amen.
In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
So I apologize in advance I have to go to a meeting in 10 minutes so this is going to be your shortest little reflection ever perhaps, but hopefully leave some food for discussion into the evening so the topic I wanted to discuss is prayer because when I was 15 years old I discovered my vocation and it was through a silent Retreat I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced that but as a teenager to spend seven days in total silence with a bunch of other guys and to receive talks and instructions on prayer was super impactful for me and you’re the end of that retreat like just the clearest sens that in my heart because the guy was pulling me in this direction which is super cool and everybody has a different story about that but just highlight something important prayer is essential.
What’s your vocation? I don’t know, except I know you’re all called to be great Saints for sure cuz we’ve all got that one and how do you measure your growth and sanctity is precisely your growth in prayer now you sit down to pray and like you got a million things in your mind or you just have to check your cell phone 5 times or you’re worried about that project or this relationship well if you experience that, it’s probably a sign that your level of prayer is pretty close to the bottom which is okay a lot of us spend a lot of time and that pretty close to the bottom part and just means that there’s room for growth because prayer is something that you choose to do so it requires a firm conviction of Will and a lot of practice but let me give you my favorite an analogy of prayer but we’ll just help to have an image I love Culver’s so just imagine this glorious like butterburger with a triple Patty’s on it and their little fries on the side so it take a nice juicy bite and then hopefully if your mom taught you right it’s you chew for a couple times and then goes down. And then your body does its thing that you’re not really sure how that works and you have the energy to get through the rest of the day, so prayer is very much like that where there is this whole amazing reality called God whose far beyond what we can think or imagine Saint Augustine used to say if you know it it’s not God because God is beyond our comprehension. this reality which we can chew on we can taste and Savor is very delicious chew on it and then that reality becomes part of you it enters into you and something happens which is beyond your comprehension so perhaps you are praying the rosary and it’s the Annunciation and you’re thinking about what was that like in your imagining in your head like was she afraid, how did she have the strength to say yes what was going through her mind how is this possible like you were working and that’s like the chewing and it tastes really good and actually the flavor is getting mixed up a little bit you know the Greek word for contemplation is the same word for tossing a salad does it make a difference when you toss the salad yes, no I mean it’s the same ingredients for just kind of, you get what I’m saying but then you swallow it and there’s a point in prayer when you just have to become quiet if you ever had a relationship with somebody who would just talk all the time and like you could wait to try to squik a word in and, stop. We sometimes can be that way with God where we get uncomfortable with the silence we have to Let It Be and let him speak and this is where prayer moves from being something active that were working at which is very important to become something passive like God work on us. And it is perhaps the most important part of it depending on which level you’re at so remember I said a prayer is an act of the will so it requires a lot of training and discipline. number one rule how do you grow in prayer you just have to do it and you will still have these lights handy little things actually my flip phone has it to where you can set up an alarm and I can tell me to ring in an hour well you know what you can do if that is scheduled time in your day and put the alarm on and make it go dryyn, at that time so you have concrete moments in your date when you can shut up, except in terms of talking to God and make it a reality because if not it’s the first thing that goes out the window, hey I’ve got I got stuck in traffic or whatever it is there are so many things going on in our lives and we just don’t make time for it. What’s the most important thing what is Saint Augustine say these words should make you nervous that if you don’t pray you are surely damned father Augustine, end the virtue of religion is the virtue that we owe and justice to God worship to God a lot of the Saints have said a bare minimum we should be spending 15 minutes a day in prayer which is why our lady gave us that wonderful gifts like for those of you who are struggling this area here’s a quick and easy way to make sure that you’re giving God what is owed Him as the Creator as the one who is giving you the gift of Life at this very moment each Breath You Take is a gift from him, so obviously there are those two types of prayer the one that we began this talk with vocal prayer and the one which I alluded to with this cheeseburger and allergy which is the mental prayer but the mental prayer is actually more fundamental anything that we do with our mouths has to be connected right what what does it mean if you have someone who says like I loved you but it’s just a lip service and it doesn’t mean anything you know find find a tree to talk to. Mental prayer is just like anything it requires a lot of focus and the ability to to sit down and be quiet that’s why I say it’s it’s so fundamental that we are able to set up a context for that to happen for us are any of you familiar with the application called Halo is that a thing that makes its way around so it is just talking to someone who works for I guess it pop up like 2018 to today has become quite something they have over a million people whatever all that means but she’s this woman who works for them told me that the founder, was very secular-minded but he found after his day of work or whatever he needed something to focus his mind so he would use secular meditation techniques you know the kind of breathing and sent I don’t know if any of you knows they’re okay systematic relaxation anyway I’m so he was using these and felt like this is kind of weird cuz I have this thing on the side which I call my faith and I’m doing this over here which brings me peace and calm maybe there’s a way that the two can come together and cut off the Halo app which I’ve never used so I don’t have no idea what it’s like but if it helps you to pray go for it, so that ability to focus is what keeps us from going crazy this is maybe you’ve heard of Father Chad Ripperger something striking he would say he’s a if you’re if you’re not in the habit of praying and I’m not talking about just like the type of prayer we say words that are cheap, and don’t mean anything could have said if you’re not in the habit you’re on the road to mental Insanity because our lives get so fragmented and our minds like there’s nothing that fits it all together and I’ve got my family life which is a little tense and my social life and not quite sure how that’s all fitting together and work in a million things are going on in my head if that’s all of your inner like makeup you’re going to go crazy what fits all those pieces together is the type of thing which can center and and word at all finds a gravity it’s like the center of a wheel that keeps all the spokes and the outer parts and their proper places make sure that you make time for prayer when was 15 this was the most fundamental thing that happened in my life cuz I had said many prayers and attended Mass, up until that point and nothing of it sunk in so you Mother Teresa once wrote to her sisters she says I am, I’m just afraid that so many of you have never met Jesus I like these are good and holy sisters but she realize that there can be a part of us that goes through life doing the Motions doing the cultural thing because that’s what our family does or why ever else or because it’s pretty or because we like the social group connected with it and never meet the reason for it all which is to encounter Jesus Christ in a deep in a personal way. You all called to Holiness and your growth and Holiness is exactly going to mirror your growth in prayer is going to mirror your growth and the virtues of humility and charity. Why do I add humility and charity at the end because what happens after that Culver’s meal is digested hopefully you have the proper calories to then do something active. Prayer always leads from contemplation to action because we were motivated by her encounter with God to do what God does which is love! So you can see sometimes it’s disconnected in prayer where and supervise over here and then we’re looking at pornography or whatever on the other side it’s a disconnect that that needs to be worked out a lot of times what stunts are growth in prayer is because there is some element of unforgiveness in our lives or just learning this from experience, personal and otherwise, unforgiveness or an unrepented sin you know those type of I kind of like that one I’m kind of sorry but I’m really not I’m just going to keep on you know what I mean, so those are things would definitely put this put a hard stop on any type of growth because then it’s not a real relationship I said a little too much, and I’m going to stop now but for sure I will pray for all of you and I hope you pray for me thank you.