March 20, 2020

Worship and Evangelization Outreach | Erin Jeffries

Find God’s presence each day in the loving work of prayer

“Prayer is a remembrance of God often awakened by the memory of the heart: ‘We must remember God more often than we draw breath.’ But we cannot pray at all times if we do not pray at specific times, consciously willing it” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2697).

If there is one thing that I have found in my time in formation with the secular Carmelites it is this: prayer is truly a work, a discipline that we must learn and practice, a habit we build intentionally. Find a time that works for you and show up faithfully, as you would anything else on your calendar.

Prayer begins with our certainty and awareness of God’s presence, in the quiet of our soul, and active in our lives. A growing awareness of his presence helps us to recognize moments to turn to God to offer him our praise, our sorrow and contrition, our joy and gratitude, our needs and desires, and intercede for the needs of others. Then prayer becomes a heart-to-heart conversation, expressing a relationship between you and the Holy Trinity, in which both listen, and speak, and sometimes just sit quietly with one another.

Prayer has become a time that I rely on, especially when I am particularly busy. There are times, sometimes even long periods, when prayer feels dry, when you do not feel the consolation—or anything for that matter.

Sometimes when you pray the Liturgy of the Hours, you might find yourself praying a psalm of praise and joy through tears, or at times the only honest answer is “God, I’ve got nothing, but I’m here.” It is in those moments that the habit “keeps you,” and you know it is becoming habitual when you are drawn to prayer and restless until you have stopped even just for a few moments.

I was once asked a surprising question by a confessor: he asked what sort of prayer I was drawn to. This is not something I had ever considered, and I offer you this same question.

The Catholic Church has a rich tradition of prayer. Scripture is always a sound beginning, and there is a treasury of spiritualities, various forms of contemplative, meditative prayer, music, and visual arts to explore. Whatever expression prayer takes, as St. Thérèse of Lisieux put so beautifully, “Prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy” (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2558).

The following are two short prayers written by Patty Ochoa, a member of St. Lawrence Parish in Indianapolis, who participates in the Shepherd’s FLOCK group hosted by St. Lawrence, St. Andrew the Apostle, and St. Matthew the Apostle parishes, all in Indianapolis:

“Fear not, just be happy.
Talk with your pastor at your church, or your doctors and nurses or family and friends.
Don’t feel down and blue, just talk with Jesus and He will be there for you.”

“Fill your life with love.
The way to fill your life with love is very simple.
If you want more love, give more love.”
 

(Erin Jeffries is the coordinator of Ministry to Persons with Special Needs in the archdiocesan Office of Catechesis. She can be reached at 317‑236-1448 or ejeffries@archindy.org.) †

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