August 5, 2012

Going on Poustinia

Dear Readers,

I am about to go on Poustinia, a silent retreat in the wilderness for several days.  God calls us to spend prolonged periods of time with Him on occasion and when He does, we must do everything we can so that we can answer His call as generously as possible.   I hope, if God grants you the gift of setting a few days aside for prayer or longer, that your will take advantage of these opportunities as well.

Prayer reveals the truth about humanity and our hearts are starving for this truth.  There is a tendency to see prayer as an escape or a waste of time -- but real prayer is real engagement with the reality of our lives and relationships.  This is exactly what is lacking in our society -- driven by so many conflicting myths and narratives, our culture is extremely vulnerable to all kinds of irrationality.   Our lives together in community, our society, cannot be maintained without the truth and we cannot find the truth without prayer.

One of the greatest problems with secular culture is that, we have so many other priorities, there is no space in our hearts to make God our priority.   If we are to be salt, light and yeast for the world as Christ asked us to be, we must finds ways of ordering our priorities and time so that there is space for God.  Christ left us an example when during his public ministry He went into the wilderness, and mountains, and lonely places to pray through the night. Of what value is any of our accomplishments if we do not enjoy the presence of God and give Him back a little of the time He has so generously lavished on us?  Without this freedom to pray, we are just the slaves of our own productivity and cleverness -- or that of someone else.

We must encourage the freedom to pray.  It would be good if we found a way to support one another in taking time for extended periods of prayer.  Sometimes the circumstances of life do not allow this -- but what if there was a way to help each other find the freedom to make more time for God?  

Prayer is the highest form of freedom and like all other personal liberties, it is not a freedom we acquire or keep without ongoing struggle.   The way to win the freedom to pray is by praying more: prayer becomes the priority of one's heart by prayer.   This is because prayer opens us to the providence of the Lord, Divine Providence.  There are graces the Lord yearns to give us but which He has decided in the wisdom of his love He can only give us if we spend some time seeking Him in our hearts.  These gifts make life full -- not only for ourselves but those the Lord entrusts to us in prayer as well.

Somehow, mysteriously, the struggle to pray is fruitful not only in one's own life, but for the whole world.  Somehow, God uses our frail efforts in prayers to bring about beautiful works of His mercy.  Thus, no matter how deep we go into solitude, we are never alone when we seek the Lord -- we are instead brought into even deeper communion with his Mystical Body, the Church.

United in His Body, He can accomplish great things by our prayers for each other.  Please continue to pray for me and for our seminarians at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary.   I will be praying for you!

In Christ,
Anthony