Daily Reflections
by Cathy

Pray with your whole heart!

Fr. Marinko
(c)Tony Zubac/ Mary TV

August 9, 2018
St. Theresa Benedicta of the Cross

Dear Family of Mary!

Our Lady once said to us:

“Dear children! Today again I am calling you to pray with your whole heart and day by day to change your life….”(11/13/1986)

On Day 5 of the Youth Festival, Fr. Marinko, the Pastor of St. James Parish, gave a wonderful talk on prayer. He spoke about our human problem with attention, and how being inattentive can hinder our prayer. Here is the first portion of his talk:

Just for a little while we will take a theme. And the theme is attention. Attention. How to be attentive.

The Holy Mass started and some (whether it refers to us or others, I do not know) but some people already in their thoughts wander away to a different place. With their bodies they are present and with their spirits they are absent. Their thoughts take them to the past, to the future. Running around they go to certain paths, to nature, to the work that they do.

And very often it happens that during the time of Holy Mass, there are negative feelings that occur, like anger, anger towards a person who has hurt them. They fall into anxiety, they start being worried, and all of the time during Holy Mass they think about what could happen to them. They listen to the Word of God, and after Holy Mass they are not able to remember even a single detail from the Gospel that was read. They receive Jesus, and at the same time they think about something completely different. Indeed, they came to Holy Mass with their own will, and when Holy Mass finishes they are as if they never came at all. Who do we talk about here? Do you recognize yourself here? Can you recognize yourself. Have you had such experiences? If you do not have these experiences, we won’t talk about it. A Ha, Dobro.

Why do we not feel joy during the time of Holy Mass? The reason can be because we are not awake. Because prayer is not an encounter with God to us. Jesus is with us. Jesus is with us in prayer. But we are not with Him, we are not joyful. Because we are not awake. Because our thoughts have been directed only to those problems we have or the worries we have in our lives. To be awake it means to be vigilant, to be attentive. Remember Jesus who said, “Be awake and pray.” Remember St. Paul, who invites us, “It is already the time for us to be awake.”

Distraction is the problem of each and every faithful. For Ponski (not sure of this name) distraction, and how to be recollected is so important that he says, “If you want true prayer, then you will have to find how to be recollected.” There is nothing more important for prayer than being recollected. Do whatever you can to get it.

How to be so attentive? Who to be recollected in prayer? Every minute, every second we have millions of thoughts. How to be attentive…Someone said that we have the thoughts the emotions we have. It is like when you are dealing with birds. You cannot prevent birds to fly over our heads, but we can prevent that they make a nest on our head. Birds are above us. This we cannot prevent. But that the birds make a nest on our heads, we can prevent.

Attention is not the same thing as to be concentrated. To be concentrated means to be directed to only one thing and to exclude the other. With such an attitude inner peace can be easily lost. There are many good things that we can lose. Attention on the other hand does not exclude anything. Not even food, not feelings, not sounds. There is not struggle, but the spirit is awake, completely aware of the moment.

So now we want to meet one young person. Her name was Simone Weil. She was Jewish. She was a philosopher. She wasn’t the slave of the Christianity. She was completely Jesus. She got to know Jesus. She died very young. She was not very old when she died. She said that the point of prayer was not being attentive. What does attention mean? Let’s see what her experience was like.

This is what she says:

“Last summer when I was working, trying to learn the Greek language with a certain man whose name starts with the letter T. Word by word, I was able to learn the ‘Our Father’ in the Greek language. So we promised each other that we would learn it by heart. And I believe that he did not do it. I did not do it either. But a few days afterwards, as I was reading the Holy Gospel, I said to myself that this is what I need to do. Since it is something that I promised and it is a good thing to do. That is exactly what I did.

It was so sweet, that Greek text. And this Greek text completely took me over and I was not able to resist. I was reading it constantly and reciting it over the next few days. A week afterwards, I went for the grape harvest, to harvest grapes. And each day, before I would start working, I would recite the prayer of the ‘Our Father’ in the Greek language. And very often I was repeating that prayer in the vineyard. Ever since then, from that time on I was obliged every morning to say that prayer of the ‘Our Father’ with full attention, being completely concentrated. I thought it was going to be my only religious duty. If I would fall asleep, I would start again.

Up to that point, during vocal prayer, my attention would be distracted for a little bit, or I would start to fall asleep. I would start over again until I would become completely, completely attentive. Sometimes it would happen that I would start again. And I would start out of the purest pleasure. I would do that only when I felt a profound inner need to do so.

The strength of this exercise is extraordinary. It surprises me each time, because even though I experience it each day, each day it surpasses my expectations.

Dear young friends, this is a beautiful example for each one of us. This is a good exercise for each one of us. So right now, let us try to do that. Let’s give it a try. We will say the Our Father in our language because we do not know Greek. Let’s try to say the prayer, completely collected. With full attention. Perhaps you can open your hands. Make a gesture. But try now in silence. With complete attention. Full attention. Every single word of the prayer of the Our Father. Say it now…long silence….
If you are just like Simone Weil, you can say to yourself every day “at least I will say one Our Father each day, with full attention, being fully concentrated. One Our Father each day that I try to say with all of my heart. Every single word. To be very attentive when I say it.
To Simone Weil, prayer is being directed toward God with all of our attention. The attention that the soul is capable of. The whole attention is being completely collected in a soul, being directed towards God. So I wonder and I ask myself, does that mean that Jesus said, “Love God with all of your heart, with all of your soul, with all of your mind, with all of your strength.” I wonder is this what Jesus thought. Full attention of the soul towards God. For Simone Veil, learning how to pay attention, how to pay full attention, that is what is most important purpose of study in the church. (14:10) (Fr. Marinko’s Talk, 8/5/18 Youth Festival) (https://marytv.tv/youth-festival-2018/ )

Thank you, Fr. Mariko, for your good teaching, helpful teaching that brings us closer to Jesus and Mary! We want to learn to pray with our whole heart, as Our Lady asks us. We can ask our saint for today, St. Theresa Benedicta of the Cross, to help us. She went from being purely intellectual to a life of deep, attentive, contemplative prayer. She gave her entire attention to Jesus, very much like Simone Weil. Let us ask them both to pray for us!

In Jesus, Mary and Joseph!
Cathy Nolan
©Mary TV 2018

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