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October Prayers

Let’s once again unite our prayers this month with those of Pope Benedict XVI. Here are the Holy Father’s intentions for October 2011, as published by the Apostleship of Prayer:

  • Terminally Ill. That the terminally ill may be supported by their faith in God and the love of their brothers and sisters.
  • World Mission Day. That the celebration of World Mission Day may foster in the People of God a passion for evangelization with the willingness to support the missions with prayer and economic aid for the poorest Churches.

October is also the month of the Holy Rosary, and the Church celebrates the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary (formerly known as the feast of Our Lady of Victory, in memory of the Battle of Lepanto) on October 7th.

If we don’t already do so, why not offer our Rosaries this month for the intentions recommended by the Holy Father?

Improving Your Prayer

At a website entitled The Integrated Catholic Life, readers are able to ask members of the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles their questions. Here is an example, with the answer supplied by Sr. Laus Gloriae, O.C.D.:

Question: Dear Sister, My prayer experiences don’t seem good enough or holy enough, long enough or intense enough. Do you have any suggestions as to how I can pray better?

Answer: Dear Friend,  Yes, I do have a few suggestions. That’s easy . . .

First of all, I suggest not using the expression “prayer experiences” at all. Hit the delete button on that one.  A lot of people tend to speak about their prayer experiences. To me, it’s not the best choice of words. I believe that to use the expression “prayer experience” lessens, or taints my prayer. Prayer isn’t just “an experience.” It is so much more. Read the rest of this entry »

Prayer, the Heart of a Vocation

I was perusing the vocation-related articles at Catholic Lane when I came across this piece on prayer and vocations by Fr. Kyle Schnippel, the vocation director for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.

While we all know that daily prayer is the quintessential hallmark of all vocations in Christ, it’s good to be reminded of this fact and encouraged to foster not only our own prayer life but also the prayer life of our children. As Fr. Schnippel writes: 

“If we form our young people to be young men and women of prayer, they will naturally desire to follow wherever God leads in this life, ultimately as the pathway to the next life.”

World Day of Prayer for Vocations

On May 15, 2011, the Church throughout the world will celebrate the 48th World Day of Prayer for Vocations.

This year’s theme is “proposing vocations in the local Church,” which brings home the importance of promoting vocations in our own families, parishes, and dioceses. The Church desires that young people feel “welcome” in the Church and learn to take responsibility for responding to God’s call in their lives.

In anticipation of the World Day, last November Pope Benedict published a message for the event, in which he wrote,

“Particularly in these times, when the voice of the Lord seems to be drowned out by ‘other voices’ and his invitation to follow him by the gift of one’s own life may seem too difficult, every Christian community, every member of the Church, needs consciously to feel responsibility for promoting vocations. It is important to encourage and support those who show clear signs of a call to priestly life and religious consecration, and to enable hem to feel the warmth of the whole community as they respond ‘yes’ to God and the Church. I encourage them, in the same words which I addressed to those who have already chosen to enter the seminary: ‘You have done a good thing. Because people will always have need of God, even in an age marked by technical mastery of the world and globalization: they will always need the God who has revealed himself in Jesus Christ, the God who gathers us together in the universal Church in order to learn with him and through him life’s true meaning and in order to uphold and apply the standards of true humanity.’”

For the entire text of the Holy Father’s message, click here.

Message for World Day of Prayer for Vocations

Last week, the Vatican released Pope Benedict XVI’s message for the 48th World Day of Prayer for Vocations, which will be celebrated later this spring. The entire message, entitled “Proposing Vocations in the Local Church,” may be accessed here.

Here is an inspiring excerpt from the Holy Father’s message:

“Particularly in these times, when the voice of the Lord seems to be drowned out by ‘other voices’ and His invitation to follow Him by the gift of one’s own life may seem too difficult, every Christian community, every member of the Church, needs consciously to feel responsibility for promoting vocations. It is important to encourage and support those who show clear signs of a call to priestly life and religious consecration, and to enable hem to feel the warmth of the whole community as they respond ‘yes’ to God and the Church. . . .

“It is essential that every local Church become more sensitive and attentive to the pastoral care of vocations, helping children and young people in particular at every level of family, parish and associations–as Jesus did with His disciples–to grow into a genuine and affectionate friendship with the Lord, cultivated through personal and liturgical prayer; to grow in familiarity with the sacred Scriptures and thus to listen attentively and fruitfully to the Word of God; to understand that entering into God’s will does not crush or destroy a person, but instead leads to the discovery of the deepest truth about ourselves; and finally to be generous and fraternal in relationships with others, since it is only in being open to the love of God that we discover true joy and the fulfilment of our aspirations.”

Intimate Friendship with Christ

Pope Benedict XVI devoted his weekly general audience last Wednesday to St. Teresa of Avila (1515-82), one of the most revered spiritual guides in the history of the Church.  

While the Pope  gave a brief overview of her life and her reform of the Carmelite order, he spent most of his address on her immense contributions to Catholic spirituality, noting “her profound christocentric spirituality and her breadth of human experience.”

The most important lesson of St. Teresa, the Pope said, is her understanding of “prayer as an intimate friendship with Christ leading to an ever greater union of love with the Blessed Trinity.”

Here is an excerpt from the Holy Father’s address:

“It is not easy to summarize in a few words the profound and complex Teresian spirituality. I would like to mention some essential points.

“In the first place, St. Teresa proposes the evangelical virtues as the basis of all Christian and human life–in particular, detachment from goods or evangelical poverty (and this concerns all of us); love for one another as the essential element of community and social life; humility as love of the truth; determination as fruit of Christian audacity; theological hope, which she describes as thirst for living water–without forgetting the human virtues: affability, veracity, modesty, courtesy, joy, culture.

“In the second place, St. Teresa proposes a profound harmony with the great biblical personalities and intense listening to the Word of God. She felt in consonance above all with the bride of the Canticle of Canticles and with the Apostle Paul, as well as with the Christ of the passion and with the Eucharistic Jesus. 

“The saint stressed how essential prayer is; to pray, she said, ‘means to frequent with friendship, because we frequent Him whom we know loves us.’ St. Teresa’s idea coincides with the definition that St. Thomas Aquinas gives of theological charity, as ‘amicitia quaedam hominis ad Deum,’ a type of friendship of man with God, who first offered his friendship to man; the initiative comes from God (cf. Summa Theologiae II-II, 23, 1).

“Prayer is life and it develops gradually at the same pace with the growth of the Christian life: It begins with vocal prayer, passes to interiorization through meditation and recollection, until it attains union of love with Christ and with the Most Holy Trinity. Obviously, it is not a development in which going up to the higher steps means leaving behind the preceding type of prayer, but is rather a gradual deepening of the relationship with God, which envelops our whole life. More than a pedagogy of prayer, St. Teresa’s is a true ‘mystagogy’: She teaches the reader of her works to pray while praying herself with Him; frequently, in fact, she interrupts the account or exposition to burst out in a prayer.”

For the entire text of the Pope’s general audience, click here.