Tag Archives: daily prayer

St. Theresa of Avila

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October 15th is the feast of Theresa of Avila, one of three women “doctors of the church.”. On the 500th anniversary of her birth, Pope Francis described her as “primarily a teacher of prayer.” “The discovery of Christ’s humanity was central to her experience.”

The aim of prayer for Theresa was not to bring inner balance or get your blood pressure down– a goal some see for meditation today.  “ The saint opens new horizons for us, she calls us to a great undertaking, to see the world with the eyes of Christ, to seek what He seeks and to love what He loves.” We should listen to her

Far from taking us away from the world and retreating into ourselves, prayer calls us to new undertakings, new horizons, seeing the world with the eyes of Christ. It’s something to do every day..

Theresa knew what living day by day means. She lived day by day herself. How did she do it? By daily prayer, by following Jesus Christ daily, by looking for the daily bread God gives us, by doing God’s will.

Saint Theresa, wise woman you are, be with us  these days. Make them days of blessing!

Here’s a prayer found in her prayerbook, which she must have said everyday.

Let nothing disturb you,

nothing frighten you.

All things are passing,

God is unchanging.

Patience wins everything.

Who has God lacks nothing.

God alone suffices.

Follow Jesus Christ, Theresa says:

Unlike our friends in the world,  Jesus will never abandon us when we are troubled or distressed. Blessed is the one who truly loves him and always keeps him near. Look at the glorious Saint Paul: it seems that no other name fell from his lips than that of Jesus, because the name of Jesus was fixed and embedded in his heart. 

Once I had come to understand this truth, I carefully considered the lives of some of the saints, the great contemplatives, and found that they took no other path: Francis, Anthony of Padua, Bernard, Catherine of Siena. A person must walk along this path in freedom, placing himself in God’s hands. If God should desire to raise us to the position of one who is an intimate and shares his secrets, we ought to accept this gladly.

Whenever we think of Christ we should recall the love that led him to bestow on us so many graces and favours, and also the great love God showed in giving us in Christ a pledge of his love; for love calls for love in return. Let us strive to keep this always before our eyes and to rouse ourselves to love him. For if at some time the Lord should grant us the grace of impressing his love on our hearts, all will become easy for us and we shall accomplish great things quickly and without effort.

Ordinary Time and Daily Prayer

We’re into Ordinary Time in our liturgy after the Feast of the Epiphany and the Baptism of Jesus. Christmas Time is over. So there’s nothing to do till Lent and the Easter season?

Sure there is. Ordinary Time is a time for daily prayer and remember– daily prayer is never over. The Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Liturgy insisted that daily prayer is at the heart of the Christian life and created a daily lectionary of scripture readings so “ the treasures of the bible be opened more lavishly for the faithful at the table of God’s word.” (SC 51)

The daily lectionary is a treasure for praying with the scriptures, but let’s not take it for granted. Treasures, Jesus said, are usually hidden and you have to dig for them. That’s what we do in daily prayer. The liturgy is always a “work”, our daily work, an important work, a daily prayer. It’s the “summit” of the Christian life. We’re always at the beginning, not at the end.

We begin today to read from the Letter to the Hebrews and the Gospel of Mark from our lectionary. There are feasts of the Lord and his saints to celebrate in the days ahead. It’s a lifelong learning we’re into, a school that God provides,  and we learn day by day.

JANUARY 14 Mon Weekday (First Week in Ordinary Time)
Heb 1:1-6/Mk 1:14-20 (305) Pss I
15 Tue Weekday
Heb 2:5-12/Mk 1:21-28 (306)
16 Wed Weekday
Heb 2:14-18/Mk 1:29-39 (307)
17 Thu Saint Anthony, Abbot
Memorial
Heb 3:7-14/Mk 1:40-45 (308)
18 Fri Weekday
Heb 4:1-5, 11/Mk 2:1-12 (309)
19 Sat Weekday
Heb 4:12-16/Mk 2:13-17 (310)
20 SUN SECOND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Is 62:1-5/1 Cor 12:4-11/Jn 2:1-11 (66) Pss II

Song at Daybreak

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Does ordinary time, the days after Pentecost, mean that every day is the same? They’re not. Graces, challenges,  joys and sorrows,  hints of things, “our daily bread” are all there. We have to notice them. The Carmelite nun, Jessica Powers, ends one of her poems calling the day  “my beautiful unknown.” We just need eyes to see and ears to hear

SONG AT DAYBREAK

This morning on the way

that yawns with light across the eastern sky

and lifts its bright arms high –

It may bring hours disconsolate or gay,

I do not know, but this much I can say:

It will be unlike any other day.

 

God lives in his surprise and variation.

No leaf is matched, no star is shaped to star.

No soul is like my soul in all creation

though I may search afar.

There is something -anquish or elation-

that is peculiar to this day alone.

I rise from sleep and say: Hail to the morning!

Come down to me, my beautiful unknown.

 

Jessica Powers

Daily Prayer

Pope Francis seems to be giving us a new model of the papacy. He has the common touch, to be sure, and the spontaneity of the man is refreshing.

I wonder if his spontaneity is partially explained by the investment he makes in daily prayer. He’s made the daily Mass in the chapel at St. Martha at the Vatican an important part of his day and his ministry. The daily Eucharist seems to be a “daily bread” that provides him with the spontaneous wisdom and insight he has.

I, for one, usually go each day to the Vatican Radio site on the internet to see what he’s up to and what he has to say. By the way, there’s a new app called ThePope that gives you all he’s doing and saying each day.

In his Letter to Proba, St. Augustine says that when we say “Give us this day our daily bread” everything is included. The bread we bring for the Eucharist is the bread of everything; all creation is there, but in particular we bring this day’s creation to God to be blessed through Jesus Christ, who enables us to interpret and find meaning in the world at hand.

Is Pope Francis giving us a new appreciation of the role of daily prayer? Everything is there at Mass. Besides putting us in touch with God, it puts us in touch with the world we live in.

Songs of the Saints

Ann, Mary, the Child Jesus, Massacio

Someone told me about a recent program on NPR on which a scientist said our hearing is wired to hear the song of birds. Our earliest ancestors learned to listen to the song of birds, I suppose because birds could tell them there was water and food nearby–or perhaps their silence warned of enemies.

I wrote about this awhile ago on this blog.

It may be a good analogy for discussing saints.  Saints are like the song of birds telling us there’s another kind of water and food nearby; they point to the presence of God. And we have different saints, just as we have different kinds of birdsong.

What kind of saint is St. Ann? Like all saints she faced challenges in her life. Her greatest challenge was that she and her husband Joachim were not able to have a child for a long time. This was at the time when children were looked upon as treasures and those who did not have children were sometimes seen as cursed by God. Besides, as descendants of David they had a duty to continue his line.

Ann and her husband had a long, hard wait before she conceived Mary, who became the Mother of Jesus. Once, she’s described as bursting into tears as she looked up and saw some sparrows building a nest in a laurel tree. “Why was I born, Lord?” she said, “The birds build nests for their young and I have no child of my own. The creatures of the earth, the fish of the sea are fruitful, but I have nothing. The land produces fruit, but I have no child to hold in my arms.” (Protoevangelium)

You can see why some pray to St. Ann for help in marriage or to have children. Perhaps grandparents today as they’re called to help out with younger grandchildren can see in her an older person who did that too.

Saints have different lessons to teach, but all saints have this in common: they have a deep faith in God’s will and they’re constant in prayer. They’re faithful in prayer, in good times and in bad. Prayer is their daily song to God. It may be a sorrowful song like Ann’s in the example above. Or it may be joyful. But prayer gives them wisdom and strength and peace, from moment to moment, from day to day.

One of the great early saints from the Egyptian desert, St. Anthony, was asked once what’s the hardest thing you have to do in life? “ The hardest thing you have to do in life is pray,” he said, “Everything else you can stop doing, but you can’t stop praying.”

I’m afraid today daily prayer isn’t high on our priorities. I think it’s going the way of Sunday Mass, becoming “occasional prayer.” We only think about prayer when a tragedy like yesterday’s shootings in Colorado happens.

Daily prayer gets us ready for what God gives us to do each day.  Jesus taught his disciples the Our Father; that’s a daily prayer. It tells us who we are each day: we’re children of God and should act like God’s children. We need to remember God’s kingdom is coming and we’re to work for it day by day. We need daily bread of all kinds. We’re part of a messy, noisy world that’s torn apart by selfishness and smallness and pride. We’re bring our share of sin into the world, so we ask for forgiveness each day and forgive others day by day.

“Deliver us from evil” today. Deliver all of us from evil, today.