The Happy Priest: Lent and Developing a Serious Life of Prayer
Prayer is the Path to Freedom and Human Flourishing
Have no fear of allowing Jesus to enter into your life. Do not fear the most exciting, most joyful and the most powerful relationship known to the human person. We are made by God to live forever. We have been given the gift of an immortal soul. Jesus does not want us to live a life of sadness. He does not want us to wallow in doubt, frustration and uncertainty. He wants us to live.
Remember, Jesus wants us to have life. He wants us to be happy. He wants us to have the best possible life here on earth. He wants to fill us with his divine life, sanctifying grace, so that we may enter into his joy. He wants us to experience his peace. He wants us to be with him in eternal life in heaven. He only wants the best for us. This is why he wants us to open our hearts to him and let him enter in.
Have no fear of allowing Jesus to enter into your life. Do not fear the most exciting, most joyful and the most powerful relationship known to the human person.
We are made by God to live forever. We have been given the gift of an immortal soul. Jesus does not want us to live a life of sadness. He does not want us to wallow in doubt, frustration and uncertainty. He wants us to live. By embracing God's will and by carrying our cross with patience, joy and love, we can find deep happiness even in the midst of profound suffering.
Nevertheless, it is true that prayer is not an easy enterprise. The spiritual life will always be a battle. There always will be obstacles that are necessary to overcome if we wish to live a life of prayer.
My book Get Serious! - A Survival Guide for Serious Catholics offers a practical guide as to how your prayer life should look like and how it can develop to different levels of spirituality. My book also contains all of the basic Catholic prayers and an instructional guide on how to get into meditation and contemplative prayer.
First of all, many people struggle with distractions when they pray. I have always encouraged people to be patient when they are distracted. However, it is true that distractions are rather normal, especially for all those who are beginning to develop a prayer life.
Personal discipline, choosing a suitable place, using a good text when necessary and selecting a proper time for prayer are all important aspects when determined to overcome distractions in prayer.
Secondly, aridity is another major obstacle that people struggle to overcome. However, it must be understood that spiritual dryness is a normal road of purification that the Lord uses in order to bring us to greater heights of the spiritual life.
The quality of prayer must not be measured by personal feelings. Feelings come and go. Our personal experience of God through prayer will fill us with peace and provide renewal and strength, but it is important that we leave consolations to the will of God.
Thirdly, many people become impatient with God because they want instant answers. God is not a computer. Our God is a loving Father who knows all of our needs.
Finally, probably the biggest obstacle is that most people are just too busy. Too many people are like Martha, "anxious and worried about many things" (Luke 10: 41). Too many people have fallen into the terrible trap of what I call the idolatry of work, thus making their work a complete obsession to the detriment of their families and personal health. Most Americans live in order to work rather than work in order to live. Man was not made for work; work was made for man.
Prayer is a struggle. The struggle is intertwined with blessings, moments of profound peace and the obvious presence of God. Trust and perseverance: two lessons that we are reminded of as we read over the gospels.
In order that we may experience God in our daily lives we need to pray every day. Mother Theresa once said: "We need to find God and God cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature--trees and flowers and grass--grow in silence. See the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence. The more we receive in silent prayer, the more we can give in our active life."
But, in order to pray, we need to obtain the ability to be alone with ourselves. It is difficult to be alone in contemporary society. Even when we are alone, the noise of our own worries and fears drown out the silence of God's voice. Many people are incapable of being alone and they immediately feel an obsession to talk with someone on a cell phone or fool around with email.
We all need moments of solitude. Spending a quiet time before the Eucharist; reading the Scriptures during a peaceful moment at home; taking tranquil walks through the woods or along the beach, are necessary activities for our soul. In order to be with God, we must develop the ability to be alone with ourselves.
Silence will deepen any relationship. Silence allows us to listen and to gaze. Let us take the time to be silent so that we can grow in our relationship with the One who always seeks us and calls us to himself.
Prayer is not always easy. There will be moments when you simply do not feel like praying. You will battle with distractions and moments of dryness. Do not worry. Welcome to the human race. Stick to your prayer schedule. Persevere and leave the rest to the Holy Spirit.
I honestly do not know what it takes for people to really want to pray. Perhaps spiritual thirst is a gift. However, we need to remember the words of Sacred Scripture: "The nearer you go to God, the nearer he will come to you"
Father James Farfaglia is the Pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Corpus Christi, TX. Check out Father's updated website to learn more about his books, homilies and audio podcasts.
© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for September 2014
Mentally disabled: That the mentally disabled may receive the love and help they need for a dignified life.
Service to the poor: That Christians, inspired by the Word of God, may serve the poor and suffering.
Rate This Article
Leave a Comment
More Lent / Easter News
- 4th Sorrowful Mystery: The Carrying of the Cross
- 3rd Sorrowful Mystery: The Crowning with Thorns
- Good Friday Reflection on the Nature of Sin
- Lent is almost over, but have YOU kept this Commandment?
- 5th Sorrowful Mystery: The Crucifixion
- Holy Thursday: Take Up the Basin and Towel. Love is a Verb.
- Holy Thursday: He Loves to the End
- 2nd Sorrowful Mystery: The Scourging at the Pillar
- The Precious and Life-Giving Cross of Christ
- Fr. Paul Schenck: Finding Living Faith on Catechetical Sunday
- The Movie Yellow: Incest as 'Normal' and Cassavates's Slides Into the World of Woes
- The Chicago School Teachers Strike Reveals the Need For School Choice
- The Sexual Barbarians and the Dissolution of Culture
- The Happy Priest Challenges Us to Ask: Who is Jesus to Me?
- Michael Coren on Canadian Public Schools: Teachers, leave those kids alone
- We Cannot Ignore Our Consciences: Cardinal Dolan On Religious Liberty
- In the Face of Danger, Successor of Peter Travels to Lebanon as a Messenger of Peace
- Reflections on the Dignity and Vocation of Women: Who or What?
More Easter / Lent
'So it is written that the Christ would suffer and on the third day rise from the dead' - Luke 24:46
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. It is a season of penance, reflection, and fasting which prepares us for Christ's Resurrection on Easter Sunday, through which we attain redemption. continue reading
Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter, commemorates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, an event mentioned in all four canonical Gospels. (Mark 11:1.11, Matthew 21:1.11, Luke 19:28.44, and John 12:12.19) ... continue reading
On Palm Sunday, we celebrate the first joy of the season, as we celebrate Our Lord's triumphant entrance into Jerusalem where he was welcomed by crowds worshiping him and laying down palm leaves before him. It also marks the beginning of Holy Week... continue reading
HOLY THURSDAY is the most complex and profound of all religious observances. It celebrates his last supper with the disciples, a celebration of Passover ... continue reading
On Good Friday, each member of the Church tries to understand at what cost Christ has won our redemption. In the solemn ceremonies of Holy Week we unite ourselves to our Savior, and we contemplate our own death to sin in the Death of our Lord ... continue reading
Easter is the principal feast of the ecclesiastical year. Leo I (Sermo xlvii in Exodum) calls it the greatest feast (festum festorum), and says that Christmas is celebrated only in preparation for Easter. It is the centre of the greater part of the ecclesiastical year ... continue reading
For most people the easiest practice to consistently fulfill will be the traditional one, to abstain from meat on all Fridays of the year. During Lent abstinence from meat on Fridays is obligatory in the United States as elsewhere. Christ Himself said that His disciples would fast once He had departed (Lk. 5:35). continue reading
Everything answered from when does lent end, ashes, giving something up, stations of the cross and blessed palms. The key to understanding the meaning of Lent is simple: Baptism... continue reading
Stations of the Cross refers to the depiction of the final hours (or Passion) of Jesus, and the devotion commemorating the Passion. First Station: Jesus is condemned to death... pray the stations now
What did you give up for Lent?
From the humorous to the bizarre, people have had interesting Lenten experiences. Tell us about what you are going to give up for this Lenten Year.
What others gave up »
Jennifer Hartline - Catholic Online, 4/18/2014
This Sorrowful pilgrimage now brings me here to this lonely hill. All the agony, the beatings and the bleeding have led me somewhere I do not want to go; somewhere I resist going with all my ...Continue Reading
Jennifer Hartline - Catholic Online, 4/18/2014
I wonder if perhaps it was tempting for Jesus to just lie down on the dirt road and die right there. Completely sapped of strength and in agonizing pain, I wonder if He was tempted by the ...Continue Reading
Jennifer Hartline - Catholic Online, 4/18/2014
Humiliation, in one form or another, is part of the package. It is only avoidable if we decide to deny Christ. WASHINGTON, D.C. (Catholic Online) - 3rd Sorrowful Mystery: The Crowning ...Continue Reading
Michael Terheyden - Catholic Online, 4/18/2014
The Passion of Christ represents the most atrocious miscarriage of justice in all of human history. So when we come face to face with the crucified Christ on Good Friday, it is only natural for us to ...Continue Reading
On Good Friday, the entire Church fixes her gaze on the Cross at Calvary. Each member of the Church tries to understand at what cost Christ has won our redemption.
In the symbol of the Cross we can see the magnitude of the human tragedy, the ravages of original sin, and the infinite love of God. Learn More
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. It is a season of penance, reflection, and fasting which prepares us for Christ's Resurrection on Easter Sunday, through which we attain redemption.
The ashes are made from the blessed palms used in the Palm Sunday celebration of the previous year. The ashes are christened with Holy Water and are scented by exposure to incense. Learn More
Stations of the Cross refers to the depiction of the final hours (or Passion) of Jesus, and the devotion commemorating the Passion.
ACT OF CONTRITION. O my God, my Redeemer, behold me here at Thy feet. From the bottom of my heart... Pray the Stations
'Christ Himself said that His disciples would fast once He had departed' Lk. 5:35
Abstinence. The law of abstinence requires a Catholic 14 years of age until death to abstain from eating meat on Fridays in honor of the Passion of Jesus on Good Friday. Salt and freshwater species of fish, amphibians, reptiles and shellfish are permitted.
Fasting. The law of fasting requires a Catholic from the 18th Birthday (Canon 97) to the 59th Birthday (i.e. the beginning of the 60th year, a year which will be completed on the 60th birthday) to reduce the amount of food eaten from normal. The Church defines this as one meal a day, and two smaller meals which if added together would not exceed the main meal.
Learn More »