Tag Archives: prayer

Attention in Prayer

This morning on my train ride into the City, I was reading a monograph by Archabbot Lambert Reilly, OSB, the emeritus archabbot of St Meinrad Archabbey, “Prayer: A Conversation with God.” I recommend it. Why? Because I need to be reminded that prayer is not a monologue but a dialogue; it is the heart speaking to the Heart. I also have to remember it is not about me exclusively but about Him who is greater than I.

The Archabbot is conversational in his presentation; one would be tempted to think that there’s a lot of words but no content because he’s narrating his experience. On the contrary, this essay-turned-talk is full of good advice on prayer; it was prepared for Benedictine Oblates but is applicable to many others. Get the piece if you can.

woman in prayer.jpg

Archabbot Lambert speaks of three types of attention in prayer:
1. “the attention by which we are lost in God.” A short-lived experience of God; a gift from Himself; no strings attached; +Lambert quotes Saint Teresa of Avila: “Don’t seek the consolations of God; seek the God of consolations.”

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Boston College Catholic students choose Gandhi over Catholic mystics for Lent


Vespers with St Gandhi.jpeg

Lenten
observances are varied: you can fast, pray the Way of the Cross, do charitable
acts, give alms, spend time in contemplative prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, do
lectio divina, pray the rosary, and the like. The possibilities are limitless. You might know, Catholics have a lot in their own
mystical tradition to deepen a relationship with the Blessed Trinity. And some real good stuff, too. So much so, that a Catholic doesn’t have to stray far from orthodox Christianity for prayer.

Doubtful,
however, is the spending any kind of energy on “Gandhi, Peace and Nonviolence” an acceptable alternative for Catholics. Especially when knowledge of the Catholic tradition is relatively low, even among theology students. But that is what the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry’s Lenten
focus was today. The idea is OK. Wait. It was pretty mediocre. Why not reflect upon peace and nonviolence
using music and select readings? At a Catholic school of theology and ministry
where students are paying tuition in order to be trained to be better Catholics, superb lay Catholic
leaders and teachers, and perhaps even priests, Gandhi just doesn’t fit during
Lent.

I wonder if anyone at a Jesuit school of theology and ministry ever
thought of focusing on one of the great spiritual fathers and mothers of the Church –Augustine, Ephrem, Aquinas,
Bonaventure, Lawrence of Brindisi, Hilary of Poiters, Loyola, Gertrude, Tauler,
Marguerite d’Oingt, Catherine of Siena, Giussani, Lubich, Benedict XVI– for Lenten
prayer and readings? Then, I have to wonder if Gandhi is BC’s type of Catholic and the list above are too obscure for mainline believers. Are these people too Catholic? Perhaps Gandhi is the new patron
saint of the liberal-blue hairs and they haven’t told the rest of the Church yet? Curious to know what Sister Quinn was
thinking.

This is not only a question of Catholic identity at a supposed Catholic institution of higher education, but a question of formation for the proclamation of the Kingdom of God. It is a question of helping each other know their destiny in Jesus Christ.

Beginning today, will Lent change my life?

prayer fasting alms.jpg

Yesterday’s Scripture reading at Mass from Tobit was a great entry into the great season of Lent: blinded for four years, Tobit’s whole life changed. His lent, as it were, provided him the graced-filled opportunity to make some necessary changes in his relationship with God and other, not mention he softened his demeanor. In time, God heals his physical and spiritual blindness. If you get a chance, read the Book of Tobit. One has to ask, to what am I blinded to and how do I want  God to heal me.


In his audience today the Pope recalled for us that “The Fathers of the Church teach that these three pious exercises are closely related: indeed, Saint Augustine calls fasting and almsgiving the “wings of prayer,” since they prepare our hearts to take flight and seek the things of heaven, where Christ has prepared a place for us.”


For those who believe in Christ and follow his path, the “Christian life is a ‘road’ to be travelled, it consists not so much of a law to be observed, but in meeting, welcoming and following Christ”. We meet the Lord Jesus “in the light and joy of the resurrection, the victory of life, love and good, then we too have to take up the cross of everyday life.”


Lent begins today, “let us accept Christ’s invitation to follow him more closely, renew our commitment to conversion and prayer, and look forward to celebrating the Resurrection in joy and newness of life.”


At the end of the lenten 40 days, how do I want to be different from who I am today? In what concrete ways will I allow prayer, fasting and almsgiving to be tools for my own education in the faith as Christ proposes to me? Will I have a renewed understanding of the Cross and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ that totally changes my life?


Fast and abstinence for Ash Wednesday

The Church’s norms for the Lenten Fast and Abstinence us is as follows:

  • Catholics between the ages of 18 and 59 who are in good health are bound by the obligation to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.
  • Catholics between the ages of 14 and older must abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday and all Fridays of Lent.
Fasting means partaking of only one full meal. Two smaller meals, sufficient to maintain strength, may be taken according to one’s needs, but together not equal another full meal. Eating between meals is not permitted, but liquids, including juices and milk may be taken between meals.
Abstinence prohibits the use of meat, but not of eggs, milk products or condiments made from animal fat.
“While preserving their value, eternal penitential practices are never an end in themselves, but an aid to inner penitence, which consists of freeing the heart from the grip of sin with the help of grace, to direct it toward the love of God and our brothers and sisters” (John Paul II).
For an article on the point of fasting, see read it here.

Prayer: personal & lived in communio

Thinking about uniting ourselves closely to Christ I
was wondering what prayer is and it is connected with my relationship with Him. The Pope said earlier this month that “prayer, on the one
hand, must be very personal, a uniting of myself with God in my innermost
depths. It must be my struggle with Him, my search for Him, my gratitude for
Him and my joy in Him. Yet it is never something private of my individual ‘ego’
that does not concern others. Praying is essentially and also always praying in
the ‘we’ of God’s children. “In this ‘we’ alone are we children of Our Father,
which the Lord taught us to pray. This ‘we’ alone gives us access to the
Father. On the one hand our prayer must become more and more personal, must
touch and penetrate ever more deeply the nucleus of our ‘ego’. On the other, it
must always be nourished by the communion of those praying, by the unity of the
Body of Christ, in order truly to shape myself on the basis of God’s love” (Benedict
XVI, Homily for Episcopal Ordinations, 5 Feb 2011).

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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