Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Pray without ceasing?

"St. Bonaventure in Prayer,"  Francisco de Zurbaran

St. Alphonsus Liguori has a lot to say about the importance of unceasing prayer, including this:

"How shall we win [happiness for all eternity]?  Only by prayer, says St. Augustine, and persevering prayer.  But how long must it last? As long as the struggle goes on.  Just as the contest never ceases, says St. Bonaventure, so we must never cease calling on God for His assistance, which is necessary for us so as not to succumb.  "Woe to them that have lost patience," says the Wise man (Eccls. 2:16), and have given up prayer.  Blessed shall we be "if we hold fast the confidence and glory of hope unto the end."  (Heb. 3:6)." 

St. Paul also tells us to "pray without ceasing."  A moment's reflection discloses that unceasing, lifelong praying is a lot of praying, though certain difficulties also come to mind, including the fact that many of us need to do other things besides praying from time to time.   So how can we possibly manage to pray without ceasing?   Luckily, there are a few tried and true ways to get started.  A monk from our local monastery recommended saying the rosary, which works for me.   There's also the Jesus Prayer, which is more popular amongst Orthodox Christians, but it's approved for Catholics, too.   As the Catechism of the Catholic Church says:

"The name of Jesus is at the heart of Christian prayer. All liturgical prayers conclude with the words 'through our Lord Jesus Christ'. The Hail Mary reaches its high point in the words 'blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus'. The Eastern prayer of the heart, the Jesus Prayer, says: 'Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.' Many Christians, such as St Joan of Arc, have died with the one word 'Jesus' on their lips."

There are lots of good dvds on praying.  Here's a trailer for one called "A Surge of the Heart," which is how St. Therese of Liseux described prayer:

Praying without ceasing is like a lot of things.  To get anywhere, you have to make up your mind, get started, and then don't quit.  God will certainly do his part.

A praying success story.

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