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Pray without ceasing…

(c)Mateo Ivankovic 2015

 

November 20, 2017

Dear Family of Mary!

 

Fr. Maximilian’s homily for November 18 teaches us very beautifully how to arrive at a state of ceaseless prayer. Here is the transcript. You can also listen to his homily at this window on the Mary TV Web page, http://marytv.tv/?page_id=192

 

Homily for November 18, 2017, Medjugorje English Mass with Fr. Maximilian.

Jesus in the Gospel on several occasions invites us, asks us, commands us, to pray unceasingly. St. Paul, in his letters repeats this teaching. Ephesians 6:18, he says, “Pray unceasingly, with every form of prayer in the Spirit.” In 1 Thessalonians 5:16 he says again, “Pray without ceasing.” He repeats it.

Mary, here in Medjugorje, clothes these words from the Gospel in motherly terms. She says also on several occasions words like “Fill every moment even with the smallest prayer.” Someone might ask how we can do that? I have to work, I have to eat, I have to sleep, I can’t always sit in church and pray.

Now we have to distinguish between a spirit of prayer which can embrace the whole day and a time spent exclusively on prayer. The spirit of prayer is expressed very well in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, N 2565. It says “The Life of Prayer consists in being habitually in the presence of God, three times holy.” It is beautiful! And if I read in the Bible of the Prophet Elijah, he says of himself, “I am the servant of the Lord at whose presence I stand,” This says everything.

The habit of spiritual recollection can bring us to this grace. And it is necessary because we live in this time of rationalism, in which I always have to think about God, use my brain, use my intellect, and then we become tired of that.

It is, first of all, a matter of the heart. For a boyfriend, it is not difficult to think of his girlfriend continuously, because he is in love. It is a matter of love. Prayer is a relation, a friendship, says Theresa of Avila – and she is the mystic of prayer. And for us it is joy to pray. It is joyful to be with our friend. So through prayer it becomes an experience of joy.

This initial effort, because we have to detach ourselves from the things of this world we love, from ourselves, and from all the other things we love, to truly love God, which makes our prayer an experience of love and of joy. So Mary combines the effort and the spirit of prayer and she says, “Pray until prayer becomes joy for you.”

So we have to look to our daily prayer so that prayer for us is a joyful experience. To be happy to pray. Because we are with the one who loves us most. And joy is an eternal effect of our experience of love, St. Thomas Aquinas states. So when we feel love, joy grows in our heart. Joy and peace.

There are people who say to me, “Father, I always pray. I am always with the Lord. From morning to evening. But I have two kids, I have to work at the office, I have all these things to do, please don’t ask me to sit down and spend time in prayer. I just don’t have the time.” It sounds a bit off key, you know, for it would be like a boyfriend who calls his girlfriend and says, “Honey, I thought of you all day long, so it isn’t necessary to see you this evening.” It seems ridiculous, you know!

And then Jesus told us, “When you pray, go into your room and pray to the Father in silence.” So we need some time for prayer, we need a meeting.

Others say, “Father, can I pray if I am driving the car? Is it disrespectful to pray the Rosary and drive the car?” I say not at all. Mary said to pray always. Jesus says, pray always. Just don’t close your eyes if you are driving your car as you pray. Pray according to the circumstances. But as I said there has to be a special moment of prayer.

Jesus says, “When you pray, go into your room, lock the door, and pray to the Father in secret. And the Father who sees in secret will listen to you.”

One lady said to me once, “Father, I love to pray. I made even a little altar in my room in my home, and there I have a picture of the Sacred Heart, the picture of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and my Bible there, and that is my favorite place. I love to stay there. But you see my husband left me, and I have three kids so in the morning I have to get up and get the three children off to school, go to the office, do all my duties, drive the three children back from school, help with the homework, supper, go to bed. After a day like this I am tired. And it is every day. So I come to the altar. The place I love. I see my Mother and my Lord who I love. I feel happy. I feel at peace. And I say sorry, I am too tired to pray.”

I said to her, “My dear sister, you are praying the most wonderful prayer. Prayer is not a letter full of words. Prayer is an act of love. As you love, you make the most beautiful prayer. Obviously if you are there and can be at peace, in your mind distractions come like, “I have to go to the supermarket, I have to do this or that.” Just pick up the Rosary and say some Our Father’s, Hail Mary’s, and Glory Be’s. Then prayer becomes contemplation. Prayer becomes a work of love. Prayer is more something of the heart than of the mind.

Prayers are sometimes said in such a dry way, just out of duty, full of distractions so that the Lord must be bored just to have to listen to them. But if you look around in this world and what is going on, how can our prayer not be a cry? Jesus said today, “Those who he called who cry to the Father being light…How can our prayer not be a cry seeing what is going on? Not a cry of despair. Not a cry of anger. But a cry of faith, of hope, of love, of confidence in His mercy. Jesus, Himself was on earth, as Hebrews 10 says, “And He was heard, as He prayed with loud cries and tears.” Tears are the most beautiful cry, a silent cry, as we see what is going on in this world, as we see what happens to our brothers and sisters who don’t know God.

We can ask ourselves, how can we be so cold that we don’t think of them, and pray for them with loud cries and tears? Mary, here in Medjugorje, wants to transform us into her apostles of love. She wants to pray, to teach us how to pray and wants to pray with us, wants to pray in us. And her prayer, her call, her tears, are something to listen to, and they send us peace.

So eventually in prayer, besides the formulas which are very useful, Jesus gave them to us, think of the Our Father. But besides this formulas, besides the rules of prayer, is a passionate heart, a heart of love in which our prayer becomes a cry. Day and night. And the Chapels of Perpetual Adoration I think are the most powerful houses of prayer in the world. We need a lot of them. So don’t feel afraid to ask the parish priest to join together and strive to open a Chapel of Perpetual Adoration. There I think is the most powerful cry because it is Jesus, Himself, who cries to the Father. If we are with Him day and night.

May we all be with Jesus day and night!

In Jesus, Mary and Joseph!
Cathy Nolan

(c)Mary TV 2017