A number of times I have referred to the two students that are preparing for their first communion this coming spring. One of the first classes that we had was on the subject of prayer, those that they knew, those that they did not know that they knew and those that they didn’t know but were going to be introduced to.
It is a lot for them to take in. So many words, so many traditions. This one comes from scripture, this one comes from tradition, this one comes from a saint or scholar. To be honest our catholic tradition is full of the legacies of the written prayer, and we only know the reason for half of them. The rosary, which we said before this service is an excellent example. Virtually all of the Hail Mary quotes from scripture as does the Our Father. The Apostles creed is from the early teachings of the church and the other prayers come from the apparitions of the blessed mother. A wonderful mixture of scripture, tradition and saintly inspiration.
All of this harkens back to Saint Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians; “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you”. You notice that there is no mention of “words”, just “without ceasing”.
It is difficult to talk “without ceasing”. I know some people that seem to test that assumption but, even they have to take a breadth every now and again. So, what do we do for the rest of the time, assuming that using words has its limitations?
The next obvious method of prayer is through our actions. In James 1:22 we hear; “but be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” So now we have speaking prayers and doing prayers, is there anything else?
An interesting question, one that I posed to the first communion students. Their answer, “if there are speaking prayers, and there are doing prayers then the only thing left is listening prayers”. Sort of make you stop and think, doesn’t it?
In today’s gospel the apostles gathered around Jesus, and he said to them; “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” When you think about it, this is probably the most important type of prayer.
In 1 Kings, 19 we hear: “After the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of a gentle blowing. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave.” How could Elijah have heard that sound of a gentle blowing wind if he had been talking or doing. It was only in his silence that he could hear the lord.
When we think of those people that we consider friends, how difficult would it be for a friend to tolerate us if we always did all of the talking? The same is true with our Lord. He so desperately wants to love us but how often do we let Him get a word in edgewise.
Don’t get me wrong, our God talks to us in our prayers. He talks to us in our actions but isn’t it easier for him to talk to us in our silence? How will we ever know His voice if we are always so busy talking>
Today’s Alleluia verse came from Saint John, and it went:
My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord;
I know them, and they follow me.
To paraphrase Hebrews 3:15; “Today if you hear His voice, [keep quiet and listen].”
The Apostles gathered together with Jesus
and reported all they had done and taught.
He said to them,
“Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.”
People were coming and going in great numbers,
and they had no opportunity even to eat.
So they went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted place.
People saw them leaving and many came to know about it.
They hastened there on foot from all the towns
and arrived at the place before them.
When Jesus disembarked and saw the vast crowd,
his heart was moved with pity for them,
for they were like sheep without a shepherd;
and he began to teach them many things.
February 5, 2022
February 5, 2022