Audio Available!

Audio Available!
Be sure to check out in each blog post the links to the audio recordings of my homilies. They are at the beginning of each post! Also, look to the right for links to Audio from other good resources!

Monday, October 28, 2019

Praying in Humility with "the Jesus Prayer"

Sat 5pm click here

Sun 9am click here

Sun 11am click here


Sirach: The one who serves God willingly is heard; The prayer of the lowly pierces the clouds;

As we mentioned last week in our homily, humility is a prerequisite for all prayer.  The words of the Pharisee today, although they appear to be a prayer, really is not.

For me, prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy. –Therese of Lisieux
The Pharisee isn’t looking toward heaven – he’s looking at himself.  It’s the sin of Narcissus, falling in love with his own reflection.

Confession heals, confession justifies, confession grant pardon of sin. All hope consists in confession. – Saint Isidore of Seville

A great path to prayer and to humility is the Jesus prayer.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

The Jesus Prayer has two important purposes. The first is worship as with all prayer. The second is a discipline to help our soul gain control our overactive brains and create stillness so the Holy Spirit can work through us and help us live the virtues in union with God.

three stages of progress in its practice. You begin praying the Jesus Prayer by repeating the words of the prayer out loud or at least moving the lips. This is called verbal prayer. After some time saying of the Jesus Prayer becomes silent or mental and is repeated only in the mind. This is mental prayer. Finally, the Jesus Prayer becomes a continuous prayer in the heart, the inner core of our being. We begin with vocal prayer and do not force the move to mental prayer. This will happen naturally

In praying the Jesus Prayer, our holy Fathers tell us, we say it over and over hundreds of times as part of our daily prayer rule. It is best to add the Jesus Prayer to your morning prayers as this is when the mind is the quietest. Begin by saying the Jesus Prayer verbally focusing on each word. Repeat the Jesus Prayer continually for some time and then expand to longer. You will experience the challenge of dealing with your thoughts, the tendency for you mind to wander. Attention when praying the Jesus Prayer is important. Be sincere in your prayer and repeat it with contrition.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Prayer - Fire Within

Homily audio: 
9:30am click here.  
8:00pm click here.

You will lose the fight without prayer.  Tree beside running waters - Jer. 17, Ps. 1, Ps. 72.
Prayer itself is a battle.   (CCC)

There is so much more God wants to give.  “O souls, created for these grandeurs and called to them.  What are you doing?  How are you spending your time?” (John of the Cross)
Why so few?  “As he said all were called, I feel sure that none will fail to receive this living water unless they cannot keep the path.” (T. of A)
2 Any circumstances will work: growth in prayer does not depend on a person's immediate situation.: "the time is always propitious for God to grant His great favours to those who truly serve Him"
6 God gives prayer growth precisely according to our degree of readiness for it.  He forces no one.
(Helicopter trying to land.)
7 Retrogression is possible – backsliding into mediocrity.

John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila never say a thing about methodology.
Conditions for Growth: St. Teresa
Living, as we do, in a consumerist age that looks to technology to solve most of its problems, we will, unless immersed in a serious prayer life ourselves, assume as obvious that prayer is mainly something produced in a human manner.  This is partially true of beginning discursive meditation, but the trouble begins when the assumption is uncritically extended to all mental prayer.  That it is so extended is made clear when one reads books and articles on the subject of contemplation, or if one simply reads advertisements to see what is being sold (always the new "technique" or "mantra" or "process").  While some of this is good for some people at some times, the extension of it to most people at most times is more than misleading.  Extended indiscriminately, it becomes a dead end and more than a dead end.  It blocks real prayer growth.
For John and Teresa they have not a single sentence that speaks of methodology as a means to deep communion with the God of revelation.
 1 Primary need: to do God's will from moment to moment throughout the day.: The whole aim of any person who is beginning prayer-and don't forget this, because it is very important-should be that he work and prepare himself with determiniation and every effort to bring his will into conformity with God's will.
3 Conformity to the divine will does not mean merely that we fulfill the commandments, but also that we generously go beyond what is strictly required.: Everything we gain comes from what we give.  ... If you are to gain this, He would have you keep back nothing; whether it be little or much, He will have it all for Himself, and according to what you know yourself to have given, the favours He will grant you will be small or great.
4 Purification: from faults.  Even after she had been purified a great deal and was receiving "sublime contemplation" from her Lord, St. Teresa still saw an abundance of imperfections in herself: How I fail, How I fail, How I fail-and I could say it a thousand times-to get rid of everythign for You! ... How many imperfections I see in myself! What laxity in sevring you! Indeed I think sometimes I would like to be without consciousness in order not to know so much evil about myself.
5 Guided by Revelation, not by a naturalistic common sense.  (Follow God’s direction, not advice on technique)
**People advancing need to be especially alert to the subtle attractions to mediocrity that still lie before them.  The devil, says Teresa, is cunning with them, and he does not try to get them with obvious sins.  Prayer, she feels, is the best way to detect these allurements. God gives "a thousand warnings" (though Teresa doesn't list them, Dubay offers: loss of peace at prayer; pricks of conscience at small omissions and clingings; minor returns to worldliness such as overuse of frivilous intertainments or excesses in food/clothing/etc; corner-cutting of regulations; idle chatter)
 8 Virtue and Prayer are correlatives.  Earnest striving for virtue directly causes a deepening of prayer.  anyone who experiences being in love will readil understand how depth of love communion transforms style of life, and conversely, how style of life deepens (or damages) love communion. 9 Determination.  It is most important-all-important, indeed-that they should begin well by making an earnest and most determined resolve not to halt until they reach their goal, whatever may come, whatever may happen to them, however hard they may have to labor, whoever may complain of them, whether they reach teir goal or die on the road or have no heart to confront the trials which they meet, whether the very world dissolves before them.               
Specific Conditions               
1 Humility-Prayer is intertwined with reality - False humility thus gets us nowhere.  Not merely an intellectual acknowledgment, but must be reduced to practice.  Generous in sharing.  Obedience to human superiors (doesn't mean you can't talk or even question).  *Pride withers a vibrant prayer life*  Human blame is more secure that human praise (the latter she considered a torment: because like with Jesus, the soul is freed and it reigns when it is persecuted).  Self-defense/justification, while there are occasions when it is right, Teresa notes they are few (recall the silence of Jesus in His passion; also, it requires we rely on God's help to resist rebuttal; 3rd, in small matters that do not harm us, it can gain great spiritual victories; 4th, "we can never be blamed unjustly" even if it is for the wrong things; 5th, if you are vindicated by another means, your silence during the trial teaches much to the accuser; 6th, God will have others stand up for us when we need it (as Christ did).; 7th, gains freedom from concern and worry of others' opinion, and can rest more readily in God @ prayer). Detachment: A Note-Inner freedom from selfish clingings is so basic a condition for growth to maturity that an entire chapter in this book has been devoted to it (Ch 8).             
 2 Solitude: (not isolation!) a healthy turning toward one's beloved.  Try to put aside all unnecessary affairs and business.  Think of the plant choked up by the thorns in Jesus' parable.  For starters, a drastic reduction in our exposure to the mass media. Don't meddle in other's affairs.  Avoid Idle talk.  It is very important that those who visit us leave with some benefit, and not after having wasted time, and that we benefit too. Waste of time and prayer depth are incompatible.             
 3 Suffering and Growth in Prayer-Just as Jesus Himself had to suffer, embrace the daily crosses that are sure to come.  If the soil is well cultivated by trials, persecutions, criticisms, and illnesses-for few there must be who reach this state without them-and if it is softened by living in great detachment from self-interest, the water soaks it to the extent that it is almost never dry.  Teresa says thee trials God sends to those of deep prayer are often severe and intolerable, so that they cannot be borne were not God also to give special consolations. God gives help.  Love is the measure of our ability to bear crosses.             
4 Love-Generosity-Growth must happen in the midst of a life lived on a battlefield.  That battlefield is the people we are called concretely to love.