Pope Benedict XVI: Prayer is The Breath of The Soul and of Life
The Father calls us into his eternal happiness and joy through prayer, which leads us along the path of sharing in the life of the Holy Trinity
Recalling how the apostles addressed a problem which arose in the first Christian community in Jerusalem, Pope Benedict XVI drew a parallel between the manner in which the Church has always responded to difficulties throughout her history by prayerfully opening herself to the divine prompts of the Holy Spirit, and the way in which prayer, too, opens our own hearts and minds to God and thus enables us to respond properly to the many demands of daily life.
Given the numerous duties and responsibilities often shouldered as a part of life in contemporary society, it is easy to fall prey to the temptation to first concentrate our focus on the various tasks at hand, and then, only after their satisfactory completion, pray at the end of the day or when some other apparently suitable time presents itself. If such an attitude is allowed to continue, communication with God becomes less and less frequent, even subsiding altogether.
The Holy Father, however, reminded us that our strength originates and flows forth from the fount of prayer. Therefore we must give priority to "God and to our relationship with him in prayer, both as individuals and in the community. If we do not have the capacity to pause and listen to the Lord, to enter into dialogue with him, we risk becoming ineffectually agitated by problems, difficulties and needs, . . ." We might say, then, that prayer is an indispensable element in the reduction of stress in our lives.
It is helpful to note that our culture itself can reinforce the tendency to devalue prayer through an often exaggerated emphasis placed on productivity and efficiency. Therefore we should guard against the false notion that prayer somehow hampers our ability to accomplish those tasks set before us. Prayer is not an intrusion upon our duties, but rather it contributes toward our success in immeasurable ways: prayer opens us up to the sustaining and regenerative grace of the Holy Spirit, whose indwelling and transformative presence provides us with the life-giving nourishment so critical to our ability to function properly, fruitfully, and in a fully human way. It is clear that living in a healthy and balanced way hinges on the life of prayer.
Drawing on the lives of the saints, Pope Benedict noted that they "experienced profound unity between prayer and action, between total love of God and love for their fellows." It is prayer that fosters love of God; it is love of God that accomplishes all things. Our Lord Jesus Christ said, "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing" (Jn 15:5).
The manner in which the saints lived illumine the fact that prayer not only disposes us to live a life in intimate communion with the Holy Trinity, but brings about, by cooperation with the grace of the Holy Spirit, the fruits of such a life as well. In participating and sharing in God's own divine life, we attain the fullness of our human potential -- there is no "better" or more "productive" way to live. If we desire to be truly and fully alive, prayer is the path to that life: one of ineffable beauty and well-being in Christ.
Prayer provides the impetus by which we move toward our end in God; it draws us toward our completion and, by the gift of the Spirit who intercedes for us (Acts 2:38; Rom 8:26), it raises all that we do beyond the strictly natural level. Through ardent prayer, the meaning of our life is gradually unveiled, we enjoy a new purpose and find a new hope, and those daily activities that previously seemed mundane take on new meaning. "If we do not pray trustingly every day," said Pope Benedict, "our activities become empty, they lose all profundity and are reduced to mere activism which, in the final analysis, leaves us unsatisfied. . . . Every step, every action in our lives, even in the Church, must be done before God, in prayer and in the light of his Word."
Prayer: The Path to Happiness
All men experience a natural desire for happiness; this desire "is of a divine origin: God has placed it in the human heart in order to draw man to the One who alone can fulfill it" (CCC 1718). St. Augustine understood such a concept ...
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