We are most grateful to reporter Carl Bunderson and the National Catholic Register for their supportive article on St. Peter Church and the documentary, Where Heaven Meets Earth, that will air later today on EWTN (5:30 p.m. CDT, April 30, 2013). Read the entire article here and support thoroughly Catholic news agencies like CNA, the National Catholic Register, and EWTN.
God is asking for an act of obedience, that we may come closer to him who did always the will of his Father. He is asking for patience, that we may come to him who bore all our infirmities without complaint. He is suggesting some particular act of charity, that we may come into the arms of him whose name is Love (1 Jn 4:8). He is offering an opportunity for meekness and humility, that we may deepen our communication with Jesus, who is meek and humble of heart. He is asking this act of self-despoliation that we may be stripped of all things, without support, without alleviation. This is what we mean by "call." Not a call to do this or to do that, to suffer this or to give up that, but always a call to come to God.
Thus, we come to pray, "In the hour of my death, call me," knowing that he will, and for the same reason that he has called me all during my life: that I may come to him. We shall be able to make that final decision to say, "Yes! yes! I choose his hour for my death, so that I may come to you," if we have prepared for it by a lifetime of understanding what it means to be called. Do we not see this even in our dealings with one another? If I call one of you, it is for a reason, maybe even the dearest of reasons: just that I want to see you! And when God calls us, it is for a reason, particularly in that dearest final call, which will be made because he just wants to see us. We can help one another remember, by our manner of living, that God has always the same elemental reason for each of his calls, whether in life or in death: that we may come to him.
Mother Mary Francis was the abbess of the Poor Clare Monastery of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Roswell, NM.
A child has no dissimulation, no concealment. As soon as he is capable of deceit he is no longer a child. In like manner, nothing can equal the openness and candor of the spiritual child. He does not compose his exterior; his recollection has nothing constrained about it; his actions, his conversations, his manners, everything in him is simple and natural; when he says anything, he really thinks it; when he offers anything, he wishes to give it; when he promises anything, he will keep his promise. He does not seek to appear different to what he really is, nor to hide his faults; he says what is good and what is evil of himself with the same simplicity, and he has no reserve whatever with those to whom he ought to disclose the state of his soul.
A child shows his love with artless innocence: everything in him expresses the feelings of his heart, and he is all the more touching and persuasive because there is nothing studied about him. It is the same with the spiritual child, when he wishes to show his love for God and his charity for his neighbor. He goes to God simply, without preparation; he says to God without set formulas or choice of words all that his loving heart suggests to him; he knows no other method of prayer than to keep himself in the presence of God, to look at God, to listen to him, to possess him, to tell him all the feelings with which grace inspires him, sometimes in words, but more often without speaking at all.
Fr. Jean-Nicholas Grou, S.J., was a French Jesuit priest of the 19th century and spiritual director.
We do not pray in order to improve our talents, to develop more clearly an intellectual synthesis, or widen our culture, religious or otherwise. We pray in order to tell God once again that we love him and know that he loves us, and to relate ourselves to the plan of mercy that is his.
We run still greater risks in the realm of sensibility, and in believing that our prayer has value only when we have "felt" something. The modern world takes special interest in "experiences," descriptions, states of the soul; there is a kind of cult for everything that can yield some kind of "interior witness." We delight in working out a projection of ourselves that arises from the senses.
Prayer is an extremely favorable opportunity for realizing such a projection. But this will always be the great difference between Christian and non-Christian prayer: the former does not contain its own end. A person does not pray primarily in order to find himself, but to give himself, to enter into a plan of salvation that goes beyond himself. In Christian prayer, what matters above all is not the quality of the interior experience, which can sometimes be very shallow, but the Person who is the "object" of this experience. Saint Paul speaks of "groanings" (Rom 8:26) or of a "cry" (Gal 4:6). What is important is not our experience but the gift we make of ourselves. We should enter into prayer, not to receive, but to give, to give ourselves and lose ourselves. And if friendship with God is to remain pre-eminent in our prayer, we must enter into prayer in order to give ourselves as a free gift, with the knowledge that we may not always really give what we are giving, and yet without being concerned about what we are giving.
Taken from The Rediscovery of Prayer by Fr. Bernard Bro, O.P., a distinguished French Dominican, theologian, and prolific author.
You should remember all your life that one of the principal causes of the small progress made by certain good people is that the devil continually fills their souls with disquiet, perplexities, and troubles, which render them incapable of serious, gentle, and constant application to the practice of virtue. The great principle of the interior life lies in peace of the heart: it must be preserved with such care that the moment it is in danger everything else should be abandoned for its re-establishment, just as when the house is on fire, one leaves everything in order to extinguish it... This blessed peace of soul is the high road to heaven. And the reason of this is that peace and tranquility of spirit alone give the soul great strength to achieve all that God wills, while trouble and disquiet turn the soul into a weak, languishing invalid. In that state, one feels neither zest nor attraction for virtue, but, contrariwise, disgust and discouragement by which the devil never fails to profit. This is why he makes use of all his ruses to rob us of this peace on a thousand specious pretexts: at one time on pretence of examination of conscience or of sorrow for our sins, at another time on the ground that we are abusing grace and that our total lack of progress is our own fault, in short that God is about to abandon us; and by means of a hundred other dodges against which few are able to defend themselves. This is why the masters of the spiritual life give this great principle for distinguishing the true inspirations of God from those which come from the devil, namely, that the former are always gentle and peaceful and lead us to confidence and humility while the latter are agitating, unquiet, and turbulent, leading to discouragement and suspicion, or even to presumption and the following of our own will. We must, therefore, firmly reject all that does not bear this mark of peace, submission, gentleness, and confidence, the impressions as it were of God's seal; this point is of great importance for the whole of our life.
Taken from Fr. de Caussade, a French Jesuit and revered spiritual director of the 18th century.