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)
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.