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"For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them." Matthew 18:20

 

"Let no one have contempt for your youth..."

Laura DeMaria

Leaving this here: the first reading from today, 1 Timothy 4:12-16.

“Beloved:
Let no one have contempt for your youth,
but set an example for those who believe,
in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity.
Until I arrive, attend to the reading, exhortation, and teaching.
Do not neglect the gift you have,
which was conferred on you through the prophetic word
with the imposition of hands by the presbyterate.
Be diligent in these matters, be absorbed in them,
so that your progress may be evident to everyone.
Attend to yourself and to your teaching;
persevere in both tasks,
for by doing so you will save
both yourself and those who listen to you.”

St. Paul goes right into my heart. Remember these words next time you feel young, or unsure of where to begin.

Do I pray enough?

Laura DeMaria

First, I am very pleased to share that I resumed active work with the Legion of Mary, that incredible lay apostolate that was so critical in the early days (years) of my return to the faith. Excuse me for being biased, but I cannot imagine a more perfect way to live as a Catholic; it covers all the things you need to fully live as one. And not just as an intellectual one. Intellectual Catholics are truly boring - what is knowledge without action? I want to see faithful Catholics in their neighborhood, the jail, the nursing home, the meeting room, praying together, talking, serving, seeing Jesus in others, being alive in the faith. Frank Duff figured it out. He was open to the Holy Spirit, and so single-mindedly devoted to work as Mary’s faithful son, carrying out her works in the world, and this all came not from him, but from her.

Prayer is an important part of the Legion. Whether in the jail, the nursing home or the weekly meeting, you will pray, and usually for others’ intentions. I used to think this was so weird - “Do you have any intentions I can pray for you?” you ask the frail old man in the wheel chair. I thought, “Prayer is not enough! This person needs medicine, and attention, and love, and nicer smelling room, and…” However, you realize how much prayer means to others who have little. A prayer is small, but it is so much. It is heard by God, and that is enough, and through your prayer you bring Jesus to others - you act in his person for them.

I fall into the trap of wondering whether I pray enough. Rather, should we not be asking ourselves, do I pray well? Followed by, no matter the outcome, am I receptive enough to God’s will and the movement of the Holy Spirit?

It is silly to believe that the only sort of prayer that reaches God is high, chanted, long prayer accompanied by music and incense inside a cathedral. It is beautiful, but it is not the only way to pray. Do you think God looks at the cathedral prayer and compares it to the little whisper of a broken-hearted, lonely widow and says, “The first one was louder and more beautiful and therefore it is more valuable.” Or even that the first sort is more easily received by God? Of course not. “The Lord is close to the brokenthearted, saves those whose spirit is crushed.” (Psalm 34:19)

Simple prayers:

Jesus, see me.

Jesus, hear me.

Jesus, love me.

Jesus, help me know I am loved.

Those prayers sum up the whole of human existence. Everything else we pray is some other form of “Jesus, love me.” (Jesus, help me with the job, the children, the spouse, help me find people who accept me, help me make something worthwhile in this world, let me know my life has value and that I am lovable).

To pray at all is to pray well, I think, if it comes from the heart. God already understands your language - you do not need to make it florid. Just speak with him, slowly opening the door to your heart so that he may fully enter.

Audio from recent interview; prayer and God outside of time

Laura DeMaria

On Friday I spoke with Glen Lewerenz on Morning Air about concrete steps we can take to make the most of the Sabbath: to pray, feast, rest and thank God for all He’s given us. My favorite part was explaining how God has given us Sunday as a gift, and how I believe He delights in our delighting in His day. Also, I should have have asked Glen what kind of toppings they put on their homemade pizzas, but I am confident there will be another opportunity. You can listen here starting around the 24:12 mark.

Yesterday I took a mini road trip with some gal pals to a scenic town in Northern Virginia. We talked a lot about prayer on the ride there, and my friend Sara shared an insight I find fascinating. As she told us, “God is outside time.” This is a phrase I have heard before, but she explained it in a new way, as it relates to prayer: if God is outside time, the prayers we offer him now can impact other periods of times. For example, you can pray now for someone’s children - that they haven’t had yet. But also, your prayer can flow retroactively - for the resolution of a conflict in your past. Why would God not work in that way? If you pray, for example, for your parents’ marriage now, could it not be that today’s prayers were working ten years ago? Do you think? Is that not astonishing but obvious?

We also talked about purgatory and the ability of souls there to pray (for others, not themselves, as it turns out). You know, regular ol’ girly road trip conversation.

I also wondered, if you pray for someone a lot - like a whole lot - is there something that changes between you, even if the prayer is not directly, specifically answered the way you want it to (or if you do not know the result of the prayer)? Can prayer bond two people? As an example, if you “adopted” an orphan in another country and sent money each month for that child’s needs, and also prayed for her, though you never met, wouldn’t that act of praying for her bond your souls in some particular way? It is something I am thinking about. I don’t know what the answer is, but I think it’s yes.

Of course, that sort of intense intercessory prayer need to not occur across oceans; most of the people around us in our everyday lives need prayer (especially if they are disconnected from a faith community and do not have others praying for them. Don’t go asking them about that, though; that’s rude). It reminds me of another thing from this week: I was speaking with Fr. Kelley, my esteemed Jesuit spiritual director (dang those Jesuits understand prayer) and he reminded me we are not to look for crosses in life - they are already present. And usually, found in the people closest to you, the tough relationships and miscommunications of family and friends. Those are abundant opportunities for mortification and humility. Definitely don’t need to go seeking out other opportunities.

So in other words, keep praying, especially for those closest to you. Be their intercessor. Don’t look for what it will get you, though. Our job is to pray, not to tell God how to answer it.