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Saturday, October 19, 2013

Homily 10-20-2013 Show Your Faith: Perseverance in Prayer and Scripture

When Jesus says “I Thirst” from the Cross, when he says “Could you not keep watch with me for one hour, Peter?” in Gethsemane, He is referring to the same longing in His Sacred Heart that we find in today's phrase: When the Son of Man comes, do you think that He will find faith on earth? He wants your love. He wants Christians, both as the Church and as individuals, to become what they are: The Body of Christ and living temples of the Holy Spirit. He wants us to show our faith at work in love – love of God, and love for each other, created in His image. We have to persevere in faith, like the widow who never gave up on getting what she wanted. And what we want, ultimately eternal life, is worth all the effort she gave – the problem is we don't see our need with the same urgency as she saw hers.

Two things that are fundamental to the Catholic life which are most often neglected and forgotten are mentioned in the readings today: Scripture and Prayer.

1. I Don't have time. Even I feel the pull to draw away from these things: many demands work at us every day – our family, our work, our friends, our hobbies, cleaning the house, getting exercise, doing laundry, preparing a good meal, doing something nice for somebody, etc. These are there all the time and they are never going to go away.
Nothing better to use your time for. It will actually, more often than not, make time – work more efficiently, prioritize more clearly, stay more deliberate. St. Francis de Sales: “Every one of us needs half an hour of prayer a day, except when we are busy-then we need an hour.

2. I Don't know how.
Lord, Teach us to pray!” This must be our prayer, even as Bl. John Paul II says he himself prayed in the interview Crossing the Threshold of Hope.
God helps those who help themselves – get a writing on prayer from the saints (Augustine's Letter to Proba, Teresa of Avila's Way of Perfection (free here; also see this summary of her wisdom on prayer), Francis de Sales' Introduction to the Devout Life (free online here), and Alphonsus Ligouri's little "how to") or from a good modern author (two years ago in Lent we read Thomas Dubay's Prayer Primer. Fire Within is an excellent and more in-depth exploration of Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross. Another easy-to-read modern author is Jacques PhilippeTime for God, In the School of the Holy Spirit) or from the Cathechism (Part IV: Prayer). Reading these books will help you to put your money where your mouth is when you say, “Lord teach us to pray!” because you really are trying your best at it.

3. I don't see the point. I rarely witness any effects.

If you pray long enough, you will witness the effects, and they start with yourself.
It is simply impossible to lead, without the aid of prayer, a virtuous life. --St. John Chrysostom
In order to be saints ourselves, we must pray. Mass isn't enough, as crazy as that might sound – there are a countless number of lukewarm Catholics that give evidence to that.

As far as unanswered petitions go: God doesn't always answer us yes. Just like the little kid who asks their dad for something that is only going to hurt them: he won't give it! Maybe every once in a while God will grant those prayers and then we learn our lesson. "There are more tears shed over answered prayers than over unanswered prayers." --St. Teresa of Avila
Sometimes God answers “no” because He knows what we really need. Other times, He has something better to give us. And sometimes, He knows it would do us better to wait to receive it.

4. Scripture doesn't speak to me.
It will. Give it a chance. Listen. Put yourself in the story. Find a website that helps you see what the readings mean. Practice Lectio Divina.

When the Son of Man comes, do you think that He will find faith on earth? Satisfy His thirst. Ask Jesus to teach you to pray and show Him your love by praying and reading Scripture.

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