Skip to main content


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

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 that person has become prayer, he never leaves him. For the Spirit himself never ceases to pray in him. Whether the person is asleep or awake, prayer never from then on departs from his soul. Whether he is eating or drinking or sleeping or whatever else he is doing, even in deepest sleep, the fragrance of prayer rises without effort in hid heart."

"Prayer never again deserts him. At every moment of his life, even when it appears to stop, it is secretly at work in him continuously, one of the Fathers, the bearers of Christ, says that prayer is the silence of the pure. For their thoughts are divine motions. The movements of the heart and the intellect that have been purified are the voices full of sweetness with which such people never cease to sing in secret to the hidden God."

The Christian revelation answers the existential questions that plague every human heart and trouble every generation.  Through His Incarnation, Saving Life, Death, and Resurrection, Jesus opens full communion with God for all men and women.

He leads us out of the emptiness and despair that is the rotted fruit of narcissism, nihilism and materialism. When we enter into the dialogue of prayer, we can experience a progressive, dynamic and intimate relationship with God and He transforms us from within. We, as Isaac said, can "become prayer" as we empty ourselves in order to be filled with Him.

Through prayer, daily life takes on new meaning. It becomes a classroom of communion. In that classroom we learn the truth about who we are - and who we are becoming - in Jesus. Through prayer we receive new glasses through which we see the true landscape of life. Through prayer darkness is dispelled and the path of progress is illuminated.

Through prayer we begin to understand why this communion seems so elusive at times; as we struggle with our own disordered appetites, and live in a manner at odds with the beauty and order of the creation within which we dwell only to find a new beginning whenever we confess our sin and return to our first love. Prayer opens us up to Revelation, expands our capacity to comprehend truth and equips us to change.

Through prayer we are drawn by Love into a deepening relationship with Jesus  whose loving embrace on the hill of Golgotha bridged heaven with earth; His relationship with His Father is opened now to us; the same Spirit that raised Him from the dead begins to give us new life as we are converted, transfigured and made new.

Through prayer, heavenly wisdom is planted in the field of our hearts and we experience a deepening communion with the Trinitarian God. We become, in the words of the Apostle Peter "partakers of the divine nature." (2 Peter 1:4) That participation will only be fully complete when we are with Him in the fullness of His embrace, in Resurrected Bodies in a New Heaven and a New earth, but it begins now, in the grace of this present moment. 

The beloved disciple John became prayer. He writes in the letter he penned in his later years: "See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him. Beloved, we are God's children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope based on him makes himself pure, as he is pure. Everyone who commits sin commits lawlessness, for sin is lawlessness" 1John 3:1-4

As we "become prayer" our daily life becomes the field of choice and we are capacitated to choose the "more excellent way" of love of which the great Apostle paul wrote. (1 Cor. 13) Pondering the implications of the exercise of our human freedom becomes a regular part of our life, as we learn to "examine our conscience", repent of our sin and become joyful penitents. Prayer provides the environment for such recollection as it exposes the darkness and helps us surrender it to the light of Love, the Living God dwelling within us.

"Becoming prayer" is possible for all Christians, no matter their state in life or vocation, because God holds nothing back from those whom He loves. This relationship of communion is initiated by Him. Our part is to respond. That response should flow from a heart that beats in surrendered love, in the process of being freed from the entanglements that weigh us down.

The God who is Love hungers for the communion of sons and daughters - and we hunger for communion with Him - because He made us this way. Nothing else will satisfy. The early Church Father Origen once wrote: "Every spiritual being is, by nature, a temple of God, created to receive into itself the glory of God."

We were made in the "image" of God and are now being recreated into His likeness in Jesus Christ. As we "become prayer', that likeness begins to emerge. We give ourselves fully to the One who gave Himself to us and cry out with Jesus Christ "Abba Father."

No longer alienated, we participate in the inner life of God who now dwells within us. We also dwell in Him through His Spirit. This dwelling is prayer. It is not about doing or getting but about being, becoming, receiving, giving, and loving. We will live the way we love and we will love the way we pray.

A wonderful spiritual writer of our own time, Henri Nouwen, understood the intimacy of prayer and the call to live in God. He wrote these words in his work entitled Lifesigns:  "Jesus, in whom the fullness of God dwells, has become our home by making his home in us he allows us to make our home in him.  By entering into the intimacy of our innermost self he offers us the opportunity to enter into his own intimacy with God. 

By choosing us as his preferred dwelling place, he invites us to choose him as our preferred dwelling place.  This is the mystery of the incarnation.  Here we come to see what discipline in the spiritual life means.  It means a gradual process of coming home to where we belong and listening there to the voice which desires our attention.  Home is the place where that first love dwells and speaks gently to us.  Prayer is the most concrete way to make our home in God."

We are His contemporary disciples. We need to ask the same question, "Lord, Teach us to Pray". Then, filled with His very Divine Life within us, we can learn how to "become prayer" by learning to "make our home in God".

During this week we call Holy, let us decide to learn how to pray. Because we will live the way we pray.Prayer is reality. All else is folly. 

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for October 2014
Peace:
That the Lord may grant peace to those parts of the world most battered by war and violence.
World Mission Day: That World Mission Day may rekindle in every believer zeal for carrying the Gospel into all the world.

Keywords: Prayer, Holy Week, confession, piety, meditation, contemplation, Deacon Keith Fournier



NEWSLETTERS »

E-mail:       Zip Code: (ex. 90001)
Today's Headlines

Sign up for a roundup of the day's top stories. 5 days / week. See Sample

Rate This Article

Very Helpful Somewhat Helpful Not Helpful at All

Yes, I am Interested No, I am not Interested

Rate Article

1 - 2 of 2 Comments

  1. mikem
    2 years ago

    is that you, deacon? photo above. never have seen a photo of you on here...would like to !
    ty.
    MM

  2. abey
    2 years ago

    Live in Christ through the simplicity of His mind. After the Resurrection Jesus went up to the Father, who by The Father, send the "Helper", which is The Holy Spirit, so that The Spirit instruct us in the truth of Christ & guide us to Him where our redemption rests, to our Resurrection in Him by His Resurrection & Ascension to The Right hand of the Father, witnessed by Deacon/St. Stephen the first Witness in The New Testament. The Holy Spirit is most essential since it is only by Him can one get to the truth which is The Christ, which again is through the gifts of the Spirit, like saying Holiness can only be reached through Holiness, which communion is through Prayer collectively & Individually by the Spirit & only by Him,our daily friend. Like Joshua of ole' Prophesied in the Spirit to Israel to the gathering "You cannot serve GOD for He is an Holy One" which Prophesy was to the coming of Christ, into serving GOD in the truth of His Christ by The Holy Spirit, through its gifts, thus making the whole redemption to GOD, as His gift through Grace & Mercy in His love found in The Christ & The Spirit.

Leave a Comment

Comments submitted must be civil, remain on-topic and not violate any laws including copyright. We reserve the right to delete any comments which are abusive, inappropriate or not constructive to the discussion.

Though we invite robust discussion, we reserve the right to not publish any comment which denigrates the human person, undermines marriage and the family, or advocates for positions which openly oppose the teaching of the Catholic Church.

This is a supervised forum and the Editors of Catholic Online retain the right to direct it.

We also reserve the right to block any commenter for repeated violations. Your email address is required to post, but it will not be published on the site.

We ask that you NOT post your comment more than once. Catholic Online is growing and our ability to review all comments sometimes results in a delay in their publication.

Send me important information from Catholic Online and it's partners. See Sample

Post Comment

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

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

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


Holy Week

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

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


Good Friday

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 Sunday

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


Fasting and Abstinence

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


FAQs About Lent

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

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?

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 »

Lent / Easter News

  • 5th Sorrowful Mystery: The Crucifixion
    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

  • 4th Sorrowful Mystery: The Carrying of the Cross
    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

  • 3rd Sorrowful Mystery: The Crowning with Thorns
    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

  • Good Friday Reflection on the Nature of Sin
    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

Good Friday

  • Good Friday

    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.

    The Cross

    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

  • Ash Wednesday

    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

    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

  • Stations of the Cross

    Stations of the Cross refers to the depiction of the final hours (or Passion) of Jesus, and the devotion commemorating the Passion.

    Opening Prayer

    ACT OF CONTRITION. O my God, my Redeemer, behold me here at Thy feet. From the bottom of my heart... Pray the Stations

Fasting & Abstinence

  • '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 »

Newsletter Sign Up

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Ephesians 2:12-22
do not forget, I say, that you were at that time separate from ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 85:9-10, 11-12, 13-14
His saving help is near for those who fear him, his glory will ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 12:35-38
'See that you have your belts done up and your lamps lit. Be ... Read More

Saint of the Day

October 21 Saint of the Day

St. Hilarion
October 21: Abbot and disciple of St. Anthony the Great, companion of St. ... Read More