Saturday, November 18, 2006

Pray without ceasing...


One of the greatest mistakes a person caught in sin makes is neglecting prayer. The Lord hears our prayer when we are reduced to hopelessness and find ourselves turning to him asking for help - especially when there is no one else, or anything else to turn to.
"There is no pit so deep that his love is not deeper still." Betsy Tenboom said that amidst the horrors of the concentration camp.
Saturday's Gospel always speaks to my heart when "Jesus told his disciples a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary." Luke 18
The Gospel of Luke is particularly focused upon the mercy of Jesus. Jesus was speaking to sinners. Sinners who seek freedom from habitual sin. Some may come so far as to pray daily, go to confession, do everything in their power to break free of a particular sin. Or they may find themselves steeped in some addiction, and only when faced with their hopeless condition, turn to the Lord for mercy. Then our Lord, moved with pity at the sight of our misery, for that is the meaning of mercy, finally lifts the soul up, grants the grace of freedom. It may take years, but the Lord responds because of our persistence.
Never give up prayer, even when caught in some sin. Do not think about merit or anything else, just keep crying out. God hears the prayer of the sinner, the person in dire straights. People think they have to be good to pray - no! - God always hears the sinner when he cries out for help, for mercy.
He asks for our sins when we have nothing else to offer.
He welcomed sinners and ate with them.
He said those who are well do not need a Doctor - sick people do.
There is just not any pit so deep and dark that his love is not deeper still.
Today's Gospel is so encouraging - never let anyone discourage you from prayer.

10 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for this post...it is especially relevant to the week I've had.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I've wondered about how one is to "pray without ceasing" for a long time. Over the years I have tried some things, "The Jesus Prayer" being the most helpful.

    But I haven't come even remotely close to achieving the goal of "praying without ceasing."

    But I heard something today on the new "spiritual direction" program that Relevant Radio has on in the afternoons (with plenty of re-runs) that uses various priests as resources.

    A Benedictine from Latrobe, PA, was manning the mike today and the question of PWC came up. He mentioned that an individual who attempts to begin by attempting non-stop prayer is doomed to failure.

    The best way to work one's way towards PWC, he said, is to schedule prayer time throughout the day and over time increase it.

    I'm not even remotely close to being able to pray without ceasing. But I've realized that since I started maybe 9 months ago using my computer's scheduling abilities to remind me to pray, my prayer life has become tremendously more rewarding.

    The impossible task now seems a little less impossible.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Ray - Prayer without ceasing is in part, somewhat accomplished by the morning offering - making everything one does throughout the day a prayer and sacrifice to God. Frequent recollection of the senses renews this offering throughout the day, especially through repeated and fervet spiritual communions or the use of ejaculatory prayers. To live from faith, within faith, united to God through the theological vitues of faith, hope, and charity, prepares a soul for the gift of unceasing prayer. Prayer is nothing less than the lifting up of one's heart, one's consiousness, to God, confident the Holy Spirit within us intercedes for us in unceasing prayer. Prayer is not so much a constant murmuring of words and petitions, but a simple recollection of the presence of God throughout one's day with times set aside for the'practice of prayer' to be sure, as well as frequent recourse to the Mass, and the sacraments, nourishing our soul with good reading, especially the scriptures.

    ReplyDelete
  4. And the rosary. The rosary is in our Western tradition what the Jesus Prayer is in the East. The rosary is, in my experience, the shortest and surest way to ceaseless prayer. By this, I mean the rosary prayed throughout the day, whenever one has a few moments.

    When one uses driving time, waiting time, and other times that leave the mind and heart free,it is not so difficult to pray all 20 mysteries. The rosary anchors the soul in the ocean of the Divine Mercy. It is a way of reaching out to grasp the hand of the Blessed Virgin.

    Practical suggestion: begin your first rosary before getting out of bed in the morning and pray the last few beads before turning off the light at night. Then just fill in the rest.

    One can also link the rosary to one's lectio divina by meditating the mysteries suggested by the Word of God in the liturgy on any given day. For example, taking today's Lectionary texts:

    1st mystery (Daniel 12:1–3): The protection of Saint Michael the Archangel.

    2nd mystery (Psalm 15): "The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup, I keep the Lord ever before me."

    3rd mystery (Heb 10:11–14, 18): The once–and–for–all sacrifice offered by Christ Jesus, Eternal Priest.

    4th mystery (Heb 1:11–14, 18): The glorification of Christ at the right hand of the Father.

    5th mystery (Mark 13:24–32): The coming of the Son of Man with great power and glory.

    Mysteries drawn from the liturgy of the day can be prayed in addition to one of the official sets of mysteries or instead of them.

    The important thing is to pray always and never lose heart.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Other short prayers that can be prayed on the rosary (or without the beads) as a form of ceaseless prayer:

    "O Jesus, King of Love, I put my trust in thy loving mercy." This invocation was given by Our Lord to Mother Yvonne–Aimée of Malestroit (+1951) and has brought healing to many souls, especially to those seeking healing from childhood traumas or sexual abuse.

    The beautiful prayer of the English and Irish Martyrs: "Iesu, Iesu, Iesu, esto mihi Iesus," that is, "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, be to me a Jesus."

    The Passion Prayer: "O great Passion, O outpouring of Blood, O deep wounds, O death suffered in every bitterness, give us life."

    The invocation to the Holy Face: "Illumine, Domine, vultum tuum super nos," that is, "Let the light of Thy Face shine upon us, O Lord."

    And also, "It is Thy Face, O Lord, that I seek; hide not Thy Face from me."

    ReplyDelete
  6. Father is absolutely correct - the rosary can almost be a self activating prayer - I frequently awaken praying Hail Marys in my sleep.
    Some people do have trouble with the rosary - the best remedy is tapes - pray along as you walk, jog, or take the bus, what have you.

    ReplyDelete
  7. OK, now I'm crying. Father, thank you. I don't pray the Divine Office, but I do have Magnificat and I'll see if the readings there can be prayed on the rosary. Thank you...no one has ever told me this before.

    And your short prayers, especially those to the Holy Face...just hit me right square in the soul. I think that's why I'm suddenly crying.

    As far as ceaseless prayer...at work, I try to keep a crucifix handy and look at it especially when I'm struggling the most. I often say the EAstern prayer "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner". Or "Sacred Heart of Jesus, I put all my trust in thee". Or several other little prayers. I'm not sure when this began, but throughout the day, I frequently talk to God, thank him for small graces, or ask for small favors. It's not possible to really keep track, and it's not something that happened suddenly...and some days, admittely, rarely.

    I'm going to take the advice on the rosary to heart.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Dear Adoro, The "discovery" of the Holy Face of Christ is an immense grace in the spiritual life. One learns, after a while, to hold oneself quite still before the Face of Christ hidden in the Eucharist, allowing the soul to reflect His Face as in a mirror.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Terry and Don Marco:

    Through dumb luck and Divine Inspiration I think that I have been headed in the direction you both point me.

    A little over a year ago I began regular Eucharistic Adoration. Then I "discovered" my computer's scheduling abilities and began to say the Morning Offering and the Angelus to start most days. I added other things as time went on.

    Then I felt guilty about not saying the Rosary. So I started out saying it once a week, maybe twice if I had time at Mass.

    Then about two months ago, my confessor suggested daily Rosaries. At first I thought that was an impossible task, but it hasn't been, most days.

    That distant goal of "praying without ceasing" seems to be a little less distant.

    ReplyDelete
  10. One way of praying without ceasing that I find helpful and powerful, is praying in the Holy Spirit. Ask God for the gift of praying in tongues and he will give it freely to those who ask.
    Then you can pour out your heart to God, and the Spirit will know what to pray for. Here are some Scriptures that explain this more exactly:

    Luk 11:13 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?

    Rom 8:27 And he that searches the hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because he makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

    Jud 1:20 But you, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit,

    1Co 14:2 For he who speaks in an unknown tongue speaks not unto men, but unto God: for no man understands him; howbeit in the spirit he speaks mysteries.

    ReplyDelete

Anonymous comments will no longer be accepted.
Please comment with charity and avoid ad hominem attacks. I exercise the right to delete comments I find inappropriate. Be sure and double check if your comment posted after you do the verification deal - sometimes it doesn't print if you made an error.