Living things grow, and develop, and mature. And a mark of maturity is fruitfulness – an unfolding, a flowering, a quiet revelation of the inner beauty of the thing as it transcends itself. Prayer is a special example, among the living gifts of God, intended to grow toward maturity and fruitfulness. Prayer is (as the Catechism teaches, #2558 and following) our relationship with God in Christ. That relationship, with God’s grace and by His design and intention, is meant to grow and to bear fruit.
As time goes on, as I see more and more of the ways of the world and as I am called deeper and deeper into the ways of God, this becomes increasing clear to me: His Church, His holy and beautiful Bride, His living Body still on this earth, has been given an awesome and crucial task. The Church was sent as light into the world – a world growing darker and darker, closer and closer to cataclysm, to epic disaster, to final climax. Yes, I know that “the end is near” has been shouted for millennia now! And it has been true for millennia, and it remains true today. These are the last days, the last days which began at Pentecost when the Church was first sent out to the dark and confused world with the Good News of Light, of eternal Life in Christ.
The mission is not new, the message is not new, the impoverished and starving audience is not new, the One Holy Source of the Good News is eternal! His living water is still flowing from His Sacred Heart, through His pierced side, flowing out for the good and for the salvation of the whole world. The messenger sent – His Holy Church – is not new either, but she is in profound need of deep and true renewal. She is as if asleep, as if unable to see, or respond. Christ in the garden, seeking prayer-communion with His Father in the shadow of the Cross drawing near, warned His disciples: “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” (Lk 22:40) He knew the Cross was near – at the very door. He knew the need of His Church: prayer! He Himself knelt down and entered the agony bound together with love, His Self-offering. He found them not praying, but sleeping. He said to them, “Why do you sleep? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.” (Lk 22:46)
The Church needs prayer. Each one of us needs to grow in prayer. Prayer is union with God. (John Vianney) Prayer is our relationship with God in Christ. Prayer is our communion with the Spirit, our living water in the barren desert of man apart from God. We need to find that communion, and remain in it – in Him, our very life.
New Article on Prayer – Catholic Exchange
The on-line magazine Catholic Exchange has published now two of my articles on prayer – the first one, Grow in Christ, Marriage & Prayer, and now a second one, Ways to Grow in Prayer. I invite you all to read them both and to add your thoughts and comments, which I always appreciate very much.