Sunday, July 29, 2007

Fr. James's Sunday homily


Recently I heard a very beautiful story about the faith of a young woman religious who was asked by her superior to found a new school for girls. The young religious was sent off to a remote part of the country to begin the exciting adventure. However, as is customary with these kinds of endeavors, there was very little money that she could count on.

One day, as preparations were being made to begin the construction of the new school, the nun decided to take her project to a small chapel. She knelt before the tabernacle and told the Lord that it was up to Him to make the construction of the new school a reality.

The next day, a local gentleman who had heard about the project, approached the religious and told her that he was willing to donate $100,000 in order to get the venture started. People of all walks of life overcome surmountable obstacles due to an indomitable faith in God.

This Sunday’s Gospel narrative reminds us that we are to trust in God and be close to Him through a life of prayer.

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock, and it will be open to you. For every one who asks receives, ands he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (Luke 11: 15).

Nevertheless, it is true that prayer is not an easy enterprise. The spiritual life will always be a battle. There will always be obstacles that are necessary to overcome if we wish to live a life of prayer.

First of all, many people struggle with distractions when they pray. I have always encouraged people to be patient when they are distracted. However, it is true that distractions are rather normal, especially for all those who are beginning to develop a prayer life.

Personal discipline, choosing a suitable place, using a good text when necessary, and selecting a proper time for prayer are all important aspects when determined to overcome distractions in prayer.

Secondly, aridity is another major obstacle that people struggle to overcome. However, it must be understood that spiritual dryness is a normal road of purification that the Lord uses in order to bring us to greater heights of the spiritual life.

The quality of prayer must not be measured by personal feelings. Feelings come and go. Our personal experience of God through prayer will fill us with peace and provide renewal and strength, but it is important that we leave consolations to the will of God.

Thirdly, many people become impatient with God because they want instant answers. God is not a computer. Our God is a loving Father who knows all of our needs.

Many times our prayers are not answered precisely because we are not corresponding to God’s immense love. How can we experience God’s presence if we avoid the sacrament of Confession, if we do not love our neighbor, or we are not willing to financially support our parish family the way we should?

The Apostles’ asked Jesus to teach them how to pray. They witnessed first hand how Jesus prayed. The Gospels narrate how Jesus would spend entire nights in prayer. Many times the Evangelists point to the eyes of Jesus, and how He would look up to Heaven before pronouncing a teaching. They longed to pray like the Master. In response to their quest, Jesus taught them the most perfect prayer,

The Lord’s Prayer contains every petition that we need for our earthly existence and our eternal salvation. It is precisely with the very words that Jesus taught us, that we can find deep consolation and strength during the many trials and tribulations of our journey towards eternal life in Heaven.

For most people, prayer is a struggle. The struggle is intertwined with blessings, moments of profound peace, and the obvious presence of God. Trust and perseverance: two lessons that we are reminded of as we consider this Sunday’s Gospel passage.

In order that we may experience God in our daily lives we need to pray every day. Mother Theresa once said: “We need to find God, and God cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature--trees and flowers and grass--grow in silence. See the stars, the moon, and the sun, how they move in silence. The more we receive in silent prayer, the more we can give in our active life."

But, in order to pray, we need to obtain the ability to be alone with ourselves. It is difficult to be alone in contemporary society. Even when we are alone, the noise of our own worries and fears drown out the silence of God's voice. Many people are incapable of being alone and they immediately feel an obsession to talk with someone on a cell phone.

We all need moments of solitude. Spending a quiet time before the Eucharist, reading the Scriptures during a peaceful moment at home, taking tranquil walks through the woods or along the beach all are necessary for our soul. In order to be with God, we must develop the ability to be alone with ourselves.

Silence will deepen any relationship. Silence allows us to listen and to gaze. Let us take the time to be silent so that we can grow in our relationship with the one who always seeks us and calls us to Himself.

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