Holy Week Invites Us to Learn to Pray and to Live in God
Prayer is reality. All else is folly.
We enter into Holy Week this Sunday.In Jesus Christ we are being re-created, re-fashioned and redeemed as we cooperate with grace. He comes to live in all who make a place for Him within the center of their lives. This "making a place" is the essence of Christian prayer. It is not about doing, but about being. The Lord wants us to freely choose to respond to His continual invitations to love.
Learning to pray is learning to live and to love in God
CHESAPEAKE, VA. (Catholic Online) -As we enter into the holiest week of the year, it is a good time to ask the question, how are we doing? Do we live as though we believe what we profess every Sunday in the Creed?
This week invites us to pray more fervently, to enter fully into the mysteries celebrated in these extraordinary liturgical rites, and to be more deeply converted to Jesus Christ. That happens through communication, a dynamic communion, with God. The way into a deeper experience of this communion is prayer.
Jesus sets forth the relational framework for a life of prayer in the prayer we have come to know as the" Our Father". (Luke 11:1-13) He tells the disciples a parable concerning one type of prayer, persevering prayer for needs.
We call this wonderful prayer, actually this manual for a life of prayer, the "Our Father" because Jesus invites us into the very relationship he has with the Father. Before He ascended He reminded us all, "I am ascnding to My Father and Your Father". (See, John 20:17)
However, His entire time with the disciples is an instruction in Prayer as a way of living. He shows them the pattern and the becomes the Way into living in continual communion with the Father. He invites them - and he invites us - into the very communion of love which He has with the Father, in the Spirit.This is more than piety, it is meant to become a reality for every Christian.
Through His saving Incarnation, His Life, Death, Resurrection and Ascension, Jesus Christ removes the impediment to our entering into that communion. He also capacitates us to begin living in that communion in the here and now, by cultivating lives of continual prayer.
After the Resurrection, the Apostle Paul, who had not walked with the Lord during His earthly ministry but was a witness to the Resurrection, writes these compelling words: "Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit." (1 Thess. 5:16-19)
St. Paul wrote these words to the early Christians in Greece. They did not live lives of ease, in any sense of the word. They had families, occupations, and struggles, beyond what many of us could imagine. They also suffered greatly for their faith.
He instructed them to "Pray without ceasing". Did he really mean it? I believe that he did. The older I get, the simpler life gets. That does not mean it is "easy". I speak of spiritual simplicity, the kind of attitude which gets right to the root of what really matters. I believe that Paul meant what he said to the Christians at Thessalonica and that his words are important to those who bear the name Christian today.
Prayer is an ongoing dialogue of intimate communion with God. God fashioned men and women as the crown of His creation, creating us in "His Image", for this loving, relational conversation of life with Him. At the heart of understanding what it means to be "in His Image" is to understand the immense gift of human freedom and what has happened to our capacity to choose. Love is never coerced.
Our relationship with God was broken, separated and wounded through the first sin, the sin of origins or "original sin". That sin, like all sin since, is at root a misuse of freedom infected by pride and self sufficiency. Our ability to exercise our freedom rightly, to live His Image by directing our capacity for free choice always toward the good, was impeded through the fall. Freedom was fractured.
The "Good News" is that through Jesus Christ, the way has been opened for an even fuller communion with God, one that is restored through His Incarnation, Saving life, Death and Resurrection. In Jesus Christ we are being re-created, re-fashioned and redeemed. He comes to live in all who make a place for Him within the center of their lives. This "making a place" is the essence of Christian prayer. It is not about doing, but about being.
The Lord wants us to freely choose to respond to His continual invitations to love. We will only find our fulfillment as human persons by entering into that kind of relationship. This is the meaning and purpose of life itself. As we grow in faith through our participation in the life of grace, lived out in the Church, our capacity to respond to His loving invitation grows as well, through prayer.
Prayer is about falling in love with God. Isaac of Ninevah was an early eighth century monk, Bishop and theologian. For centuries he was mostly revered in the Eastern Christian Church for his writings on prayer. In the last century the beauty of his insights on prayer are being embraced once again by both lungs, East and West, of the Church. He wrote these words in one of his many treatises on Prayer:
"When the Spirit dwells in a person, from the moment in which ...
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