by Friar Jim Van Vurst, O.F.M.
We know that as believers we are called to prayer. God is our creator,
Jesus our redeemer and the Spirit our sanctifier. We are filled with their presence (sanctifying
grace) and are called to communicate with them.
To talk with God is what prayer really is. It’s what Jesus did
all through his ministry, especially in the evening. Sometimes we read that he prayed all
night (Lk 6:12). In addition, he taught us to pray the most perfect of all prayers, the
Our Father (Mt 6:9).
Let me start with something Ive written before about prayer:
In my own life, I have developed a habit of talking and praying to
God during the day. Whenever something good happens in my life, no matter how insignificant
it might seem to be, I pray, “Thank you, Lord.” It doesn’t mean the
event or situation is “religious.” I’ll express thanks for small things
like a good meal or even a safe journey home from work.
And whenever I need help or find myself experiencing difficulty, even
in the smallest situation, I pray, “Lord, help me.” No matter what
it might be that I need. “Help, Lord” is just a two-word prayer, but it is
an earnest petition to God. You would be surprised how often there is opportunity each
day to pray, “Help me, Lord” or “Thank you, Lord.”
I want to follow up with some more ideas about simple methods of prayer,
so that we are in touch with the Lord through prayer during the day.
For moms, thoughts and images of family, husbands and children that come
to mind are a reminder to pray for loved oneseven while busy at home and work. People
might say that these images are distractions, but in reality they are cues to say in your
heart, “Lord, watch over them.”
Husbands and fathers, who may have photos of loved ones at work, can
simply glance at these pictures and pray, “Love them, Lord.” No one else needs
to know. Its not an elaborate prayer. It is simply a momentary conscious connection
between you and God and the very people for whom you would lay down your life for.
I once was driving with several Poor Clare nuns and came upon an accident.
It was nothing serious, but just a terrible inconvenience and worry for the people involved.
One of the sisters suggested, “Let’s offer a Hail Mary for them so that they
get through this difficult time.” What a prayerful gesture! It wasn’t the rosary
or a litanyonly a single Hail Marybut it was a thoughtful and kind prayer for
If you are like me, when you get tied up in traffic due to someones “fender
bender,” you become impatient. However, this is a chance to do the opposite of complaining.
Pray for the people involved in the accident: “Lord, help them through this.” I
can also thank God that I am not facing their predicament.
Everything that I am saying is really very simple, very easy and very
hidden within us. But that is what it means to go through life with a sense of consciousness
of God and the needs of others. There is nothing showy about it; we are not saying we are
better than others because we pray. All we are saying is that we walk in the presence of
the Lord and hold the Lord within us. The more we pray, even with simple words ( “I
love you,” “help them,” “thank you,” “take care of
them”), the more we are acting on our beliefs. Try it. It’s simple. It could
make a difference in your life.
respond to Friar Jacks musings on The
Cause of Father Solanus Casey (Continued) and Reflections
on the Stigmata (Part I).
Preliminary note from Friar Jack: The first e-mail below is from
Don, who had written earlier and said he knew Father Solanus and met him three or four
times. In my reply in last
month’s Inbox (July 17), I said I was puzzled by some of his remarks. He gives
some clarifications below:
Dear Friar Jack: I admit I was not too clear. What I meant is
that we sometimes think of saints as very different people: eyes looking up to heaven,
very quiet, very much out of this world, distant, the plaster saint. Father Solanus was
such a humble friar that you felt at ease with him. He had to be briefpeople were
waitingbut he was always kind and to the point….The Solanus Center [in Detroit]
is a beautiful place. It has a soul. People will never forget their visit there. Don
Dear Don: Thanks for the clarifications. As it turned out I received
a good number of e-mails in response to the Inbox. Several people wrote and said they were
sorry when they read that I had received so few responses last month, and so they took
time to write, as you can see from the following letter. Friar Jack
Dear Friar Jack: I, too, would love to make a trip to Detroit
to pray at Father Solanus’s tomb. He is a special “saint.” I have never
written before but wanted you to know how much I enjoyed reading about Father Solanus especially
since you received few responses regarding your [E-spiration of July 2, 2007]….I’m
seeking to enter the SFO (Secular Franciscan Order) and am currently in the “inquiry” phase.
I love Jesus with all my heart and am looking forward to sharing the rest of my life with
Franciscan brothers and sisters….I can feel St. Francis’ joy in my heart. Theresa
Dear Friar Jack: I too enjoyed your piece on Father Solanus Casey.
I have several times been to St. Bonaventure’s for the healing service and to receive
the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The friars are very welcoming and patient with everyone
who has come to be close to the tomb of Father Solanus. When attending a healing service,
one of the final things the friars do is individually bless each person with the relic
of the true cross of Christ. What an amazing experience is in store for each visitor! Mike
Dear Friar Jack: [a response to Friar Jack’s “Reflections
on the Stigmata (Part I)” August 1] If the stigmata is a type of emotional
and spiritual “melding,” I have wondered why there is no history of Mary
or any of the apostles experiencing the phenomenon. Perhaps you can touch on that in
part II. Thank you for your uplifting comments that encourage so many of us on the journey! Melita
Dear Melita: You ask a good question, and I may not have a good
answer, except to say that the great apostle St. Paul, speaking probably in a symbolic way
of Christ’s suffering, says, “I bear the marks of Jesus on my body” (Gal
6:17). I do plan to comment a bit more on that in Part II. Thanks for your kind remarks. Friar
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