Dear Sisters & Brothers in Christ,
Happy St. Valentine's Day!
In last Sunday's Gospel, despite having a very late night healing and expelling demons, Jesus arose very early and went off to a deserted place to pray. Even though He was the Anointed of God, even the Son of God, Jesus found it necessary to pray. Throughout the Gospels Jesus is always seeking a quiet place for prayer. He prays for strength. He prays for guidance. He prays that "this cup" might pass Him by. He even prays in exasperation while on the Cross to a Father He believes has abandoned Him.
Well if the Holy One of God needed to pray, how much more do we need to develop a life of prayer? Our lives can become so busy and hectic (just think about the root of that word). Often it is prayer and mass that are the first to be sacrificed, and they are the very thing we need most.
When old sailing ships crossed the wide open sea, the captain had to be able to plot his course by the stars of night and a sexton by day - oh yeah, and pray for clear skies so he could see those stars. He had to spend time studying the constellations. Being off by only a degree or two and he could not only miss a small distant island, but entire countries.
Wagon trains and trappers that crossed this country had no road signs or GPS units, no gas stations or cafes in which to get directions. They too needed to study the constellations by night and the lay of the land by day. There was a old practice, especially when the skies were cloudy, to carefully point one's shoes in the direction one was traveling before one stopped to rest.
Being a disciple of Christ, one has to be sure that one is heading in the right direction. You have to follow the Way of Christ and sometimes the path is not clearly marked. There are some people who will even point you in the wrong direction. It is easy to get lost in this busy and hectic world, and so it is important to stay on course. The captains and guides of old would never have found their way if they had not spent the time studying the stars and the art of navigation. We cannot hope to follow our Lord unless we spend time getting to know Him, unless we become very familiar with His Will & Way. And that takes prayer.
Find yourself some out of the way place. Put some time in your calendar for a meeting with God. Seek out some quiet time in your day, so that you cannot only pray to God, but also listen to God. Let The Lord speak in your life. Heed your Savior's advice. Pray when you need strength. Pray when you know you are blessed. But also pray when you're weary and burdened, also pray when you feel abandoned and afraid. Spend time with your God. Pray until it becomes as natural as breathing. And if you are still having trouble, then let me recommend one of St. Alphonsus's favorite prayers:
"Lord, help me to pray."
In the Redeemer,