Dear Apostle of Mary’s Immaculate Heart!
Our prayers for you and our gratitude intensify at this critical time of crisis within the country and at the heart of every family. How very much we need the Holy Ghost, His light, His love and His pledge of eternal life! Let us be fervent in prayer and always docile, attentive and obedient to His every inspiration!
The Holy Spirit is our Guest, our Gift, the very pledge of our inheritance. What happiness to carry in our soul the Seed of Glory, the substance of Heaven! In truth, Sanctifying Grace and the life of glory are the same supernatural life, and its fullness will be ours in the life to come. We hope for eternal life and we have full confidence God will give us all that is necessary to attain it. We do not travel haphazardly on our voyage to Heaven.
Faith points out the definite route for us and Hope gives us unfailing confidence that we will attain it. The most common and most dangerous obstacle to the way of perfection is discouragement! This blight of dependence on self above God, reduces our fervor and generosity and impedes our progress to perfection. While we have confidence in God every obstacle is overcome, sacrifice is made easy and our struggles are crowned with victory. When discouragement invades a soul, it is without energy or support and is easily misguided and confused. Despair is the most dangerous of sins. St. Isidore said,
“To Commit a Crime is Death to the Soul; but to Despair is to Descend into Hell.”
Pray to the Holy Spirit, Who is not only light and fire, but strength and spiritual unction that invigorates those who struggle on earth. Let us consecrate ourselves to Him and receive the support of His strong arm, the arm of HOPE! Faith and Charity enrich us with light and love, while confidence in God imparts to our soul the glorious gift of Hope! Let us open our soul to the supernatural aids of which the Holy Ghost is the living and inexhaustible source. He is the Spirit of promise and the pledge of our eternal inheritance.
Please pray for me.
“Heal Our Wounds, Our Strength Renew, On Our Dryness, Pour Thy Dew!”
Power of Prayer
God is Love! He is an all-consuming Fire. What Fire is that? It is the Fire of Divine Love which should be burning within our hearts. It is the flame of the Holy Ghost. Like any fire or flame, it has to be kindled and, then, constantly rekindled because, if a fire is never rekindled, eventually it will burn out and grow cold. The only way we can keep that Fire of Divine Love burning within our hearts is by the power of prayer.
How many Catholics, in the normal course of their day, will never set aside time to pray! God’s power is set loose in prayer as it is in no other way. It is absolutely impossible to have any kind of intimate personal relationship with God unless you have a very strong life of personal prayer. It is impossible for any of us to achieve our spiritual potential as Christian men and women unless we make time to pray.
Our coming into this world was not by accident, not by chance, not by mistake, but by the Will of God. Because of His Infinite Goodness, Love and Generosity, God created us out of nothing! God wanted us to have life. It is His ardent desire that we come to share eternal happiness with Him in His Heavenly Kingdom. If you think that any child’s coming into this world, was a surprise or a mistake, it would have been the first mistake that God ever made. It was not by accident but by the creative will of God that each one of us came into this world, in a specific way, in a specific place, in a certain family and at a particular time, all according to God’s plan. We know that God did not bring us into this world to abandon us. God became man; God took on human flesh and blood in the virginal womb of Our Blessed Mother. God sent His only begotten Son Jesus Christ to die for us on the Cross, to save us and redeem us from sin. He came to give us all the means necessary for our salvation. When we talk about the means of salvation we are talking especially about the Seven Sacraments. These powerful channels of Grace Our Lord bought and paid for in His own blood on Calvary.
God has a plan for your life that is going to end in Eternal Glory if only you will cooperate with the graces that He wants to give to you. God is always ready to work wonders in the lives of the people who love Him. The apostle St. Paul said, “God makes all things work together for the good of those who love Him.” And, who are the ones who love God? At the Last Supper, Jesus said, “The one who loves Me is the one who keeps My Commandments.” Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord, will enter the Kingdom of God, but only the one who does the Will of my Father in Heaven. Many are called but few are chosen. The gate that leads to Heaven is a narrow gate and few there are who enter therein. Broad and wide is the road that leads to ruin and many there are who take that road.”
There are three very basic truths of the spiritual life:
Prayer is the Key to Salvation!
The whole mystery of human salvation, your whole future and your whole relationship with God depend entirely on how much and how well you are willing to pray. The saints became saints because they understood the power of prayer. They believed and knew that prayer has the power to change lives, yours and those of others, and they proved it more than two centuries ago. St. Alphonsus Liguori, founder of the Redemptorist Order said, “Those who pray much, have great chance to be saved; those who pray little, have little chance to be saved and those who do not pray at all, have NO chance to be saved.” He said, God does not speak to those who do not speak to Him.
St. Theresa of Avila, Doctor of the Church, said, “There is only one road that leads to God and that road is prayer. If anyone shows you another road, they are deceiving you!” God’s power is unleashed in prayer as it is in no other form or fashion. Prayer can transform your human power, your natural abilities, talents and gifts into the supernatural power of God.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told the apostles, to pray, saying, “Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you. Whoever asks receives, whoever seeks, finds, whoever knocks is let in.” That means God is a generous Father who very much wants to give good things to His adopted children. We are His adopted sons and daughters. That spirit of adoption entitles all of us to a heavenly inheritance. We are God’s heirs and joint heirs with Christ. God is a loving Father Who very much wants to share His Grace with us and the people who we love. If prayer has this kind of power and if God uses prayer to change and guide and direct the course of events in our lives, if prayer is so absolutely essential to our wellbeing, both now and for all eternity, then the burning question is this: WHY DO WE PRAY SO LITTLE!
Why do we always seem to have time for everything but prayer? How is it that so many of us can sit for hours at a time in front of the TV or computer and think nothing of it? We sit for three hours at a time and watch a ball game and think nothing of it. But, even five or ten minutes of prayer a day, seems like too much of a burden. We hear a great deal about scandals in the Church today and, yes, they are significant and worrisome. What seems a great scandal in the Church today is when a Christian sits for hours in front of the TV or computer and then claims not to have time to pray, his mind becomes boggled by the world, distracted by the noise and nonsense, sex and violence, plots and intrigues of the TV, and he fails to make the time to pray.
Many people could sum up their whole spiritual life very quickly: Mass on Sundays, a short prayer in the morning, grace before meals, prayer on the run, and a quick prayer at night. This is not good enough in the sight of Almighty God. God is a God of love, a God who is searching and thirsting and always craving for more of our love in return. His desire for love will not be satisfied and He will not be able to satisfy our spiritual needs unless we make the time to be alone with Him in prayer. God gives us so much, why do we give Him so little in return? Why is it that prayer is such a low priority in our lives? We might give several different reasons for this. Very often, it can be because we just don’t have enough Faith. We don’t really believe that God is going to hear and answer our prayers. We don’t really believe that God is infinitely wise and infinitely in love with each one of us and that He hears and answers our prayers in the way that is best for us. What more must God do to convince us that He desires our happiness more than we do ourselves and that He knows how best to get it for us. God saves the best for those who leave the choice to Him. Often we neglect prayer because we don’t love God enough. We do not want to make the time to be alone with Him. Perhaps we are not really convinced of God’s goodness or that He takes a personal interest in each and every one of us. Some people never pray, because they are not willing to wait for God to give an answer. We are living in a society where people value instant gratification. We want what we want, when we want it. We know what we want, and we got to have it now. We do not want to persevere in prayer. Some people never pray because they are just too proud to admit that they need God’s help or anyone’s help for that matter. They think they can make it alone and they are kidding themselves.
It has been said that the American spirit is characterized by rugged individualism, fierce independence, and self-sufficiency. This can often be a positive thing, but when it is transferred into the spiritual life, it is a negative thing. Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches, apart from Me, you can do nothing.” Most of the time we tend to neglect prayer because we are just too preoccupied with other things. We claim to be too busy to make time for prayer. We find ourselves caught up in the cares of the world, wrapped up in the hectic pace of our daily lives and we fail to make the time or take the effort needed to pray the way we know we should. We can find a million excuses not to pray. St. Augustine said, God is more willing to give the graces that we need, than we are to ask for them. Let us try to think of our relationship with God from His perspective. Archbishop Fulton Sheen said that most people look upon prayer in the same way that an aviator would look upon a Parachute, he always keeps one with him close by, he knows that it is there, he hopes he will never has to use it, but should an emergency arise, he will use it. All too often that is the way people look upon prayer. Many people will only turn to God when they want something for themselves or when some crisis comes up in their lives. Once they get what they want or the crisis passes, they stop praying altogether. God won’t hear from them until next time! Sadly, there are many who never bother with God, never bother to pray and never darken a church door until some crisis comes upon them. When suffering comes into their lives, all of a sudden they are down on their knees crying out, “O, help me Lord!” Then, they demand God to make miracles and to answer their prayer exactly as they have made it. God is under no obligation to hear and answer the prayers of those who have made themselves strangers to Him and strangers to prayer. If we pray only in this manner, we will never grow spiritually. If our prayers are selfish and we serve God only for what He might give us, we are not motivated by true love of God and neighbor.
We have a serious obligation to pray for other people and for the graces of which they stand in need, especially for the sick, the suffering, sinners, those living without God, those walking in darkness, the innocent victims of war, violence, persecution, injustice and starvation, those who will die today. We are living in a world of suffering souls desperately in need of God’s Grace: the graces that can only come to many of them through our prayers. How many lives, how many souls are hanging in the balance at every moment? How many could be saved if only we would be generous and make more time to pray for them.
Our Blessed Mother at Fatima, in 1917, said that so many souls are lost because they have no one to pray for them. This is why, when Our Lord told us to pray the Our Father, He did not tell us to say, ‘Give me this day my daily bread, or forgive me my trespasses’ but rather, “Give us this day our daily bread, forgive us our trespasses, lead us not into temptation.” This is precisely because a mature faith, a true Catholic spirituality, true Christian charity, does not pray selfishly or just for its own interests. It prays for other people and it gives God thanks and adoration and makes reparation for sin. God loves a generous heart that forgets itself in order to pray for others. God will never be outdone in generosity.
God will always repay the least efforts that we make to help others a hundred-fold. While we are still in this life, all of us will have something to suffer. We can never be, nor should we wish to be, free of the Cross. There are many Christians today who are looking for a kind of Christianity that does not exist. They are looking for Christianity without the Cross, without pain, without sorrow, without suffering, and without sacrifice. Such a thing has never existed, nor will it ever exist. The Cross will always be with us. Know that God will never send a cross into our lives that is too heavy for us to bear. With every Cross God sends into our lives, He will always send us sufficient grace and strength to be able to bear it. Jesus said, “If anyone would be my disciple, let Him take up his cross daily and follow in my footsteps.” We know that when we offer our daily crosses and sufferings to God in union with the suffering of Our Blessed Lord on the Cross, our sufferings take on a tremendous redemptive value. They become a powerful prayer in our hands. Our first prayer, every morning, should be our Morning Offering, the daily offering of ourselves: everything we have, we are and we do, offered totally to God in a spirit of love, charity, humility and simplicity. If we do this, we sanctify everything that we do and it becomes a prayer tremendously powerful and pleasing to Almighty God. We know that God does hear and answer every prayer in His own time and in His own way, and we know that when we pray, we will always get one of the three responses from God:
God will say, “YES or NO, or WAIT.”
Why does God say, NO? Why doesn’t God give us everything we ask for in prayer? It is simply because God is a loving Father who sees into the future. God exists outside the limitations of space and time. The past, present and future all belong to God. God lives in an eternal present. God sees every possibility, every contingency. God knows what is going to happen if we get the things we ask for. God knows that we don’t always ask for things that are good for us and our spiritual welfare. Suppose you are a parent and your little child asks you for a sharp knife to play with. Would you give it to him? Of course not! What if he asked for a pack of matches, a cigarette lighter or a gun? Would you give it to him? Of course you wouldn’t, because you are a loving parent and you can foresee that any one of those things could be dangerous to him. When we pray, God will give us nothing that He foresees will separate our hearts from Him and lead us away from Heaven. God will not always give us everything we want, but He will always give us the things that we really need. True worship is accepting God’s Holy Will however it presents itself in our lives.
True Worship is Trust and nothing glorifies God more! It is confidence in God’s providence. We know that God can arrange things for our happiness far, far better than we can even imagine. We must pray perseveringly and humbly. The Gospel shows us that Jesus Christ left us the example of a life devoted to prayer. Think of the Life of Our Lord on earth: Thirty three short years the Gospel tells us. He spent the first thirty of those years in prayer and preparation for His public ministry. During those three years, He left us an example of a life devoted to prayer. He began and He ended His days in prayer. Before every important event, action or decision of His public Life, Our Lord drew apart from everything and everyone, to make the time to be alone in prayer with His Father. This is exactly what we are called to do. Our Lord did that to leave us an example to follow. His example shows us the best and the most simple and the most effective way to pray. Speak to God from your heart, not just out of habit. We know that our prayers have a very special power, a special efficacy, when we come before Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. This was the secret of the saints. The saints knew that there was practically no favor they might ask that would be refused if they ask it in His Sacred Presence in the Blessed Sacrament. Every day, we come together to offer the most powerful prayer ever known to humanity, the greatest act of worship the world has ever known or will ever know and it is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
The Mass is an infinite treasure of graces. At every Mass, Jesus Christ places Himself into the hands of the priest as a victim, a victim of infinite value to obtain for us all the graces and blessings that we stand in need of. What is it that prevents us from having the fullness of those graces and blessings? It is because so much of the time we attend Mass without devotion, attention, and reverence. So much of the time we come forward to receive Holy Communion and we receive Our Lord coldly and indifferently. Prayer is conversation with God, lifting the mind and the heart to God. You speak to God and God speaks to you. Your daily spiritual reading and meditation will do so much to foster daily prayer and the devout reception of the Sacraments. If you want an especially powerful prayer for our time, pray the Holy Rosary. It is the prayer that comes to us directly from Heaven through the hands of Our Blessed Mother. Never think of the Rosary as vain repetition. The Rosary is the prayer of the Gospel. It is scriptural and is the prayer that helps us to meditate on the 15 central Mysteries on the Life of Our Blessed Lord and of the Holy Family. Prayer is the life of the soul. Without prayer we cut ourselves off from the treasures of God’s Grace. Without prayer, in time, we drift away from God and fall into temptation, mortal sin and fall away from the Faith. In prayer, we draw close to God, and learn to know Him, love Him and serve Him. In prayer, God reveals Himself to us, speaks to our hearts and guides our lives by the Light of the Holy Spirit. With prayer, God makes all things work together for the good of those who love Him.