From the Pastor’s Desk | October 16, 2022 | Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time
…pray always without becoming weary.
~ Luke 15:18-19
Brothers and Sisters,
“Inconceivable!” The quirky romance and adventure film, The Princess Bride, has captivated the attention of generations since it first debuted in theaters in 1987. The story is a classic tale of love and adventure as the beautiful Princess Buttercup, engaged to the wicked Prince Humperdinck, is kidnapped and held against her will. It is up to Westley, her childhood beau, to save her. In one scene, Westley continues to pursue Buttercup when Vizzini, the goofy mastermind behind the kidnapping, delivers the line that would launch a million internet memes, exclaiming for seemingly the one-hundredth time, “Inconceivable!” His henchman Inigo Montoya comments on his redundant choice of words, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
Sometimes I catch myself in a Montoya-inspired bit of dialog with God when I ask Him with honesty (again), “Do you really mean pray ALWAYS!?” Then I offer some alternatives: frequently, regularly, or habitually. But we all know, unlike Vizzini, God understands the intent behind his word selection perfectly, but still, the absolutism of “always” can leave me weary.
If you can relate to what I’ve shared, I’d also like to share a few ways that have helped me pray better. First, we must drop our preconceived notions of what prayer is. Though prayer includes times of silence when kneeling, prayer isn’t limited to this particular expression. The Catechism furthers this thought by defining what prayer is through the views of the saints (§§2558-2565). For instance, St. Therese called prayer a “surge of the heart,” “a simple look toward heaven,” and “a cry of recognition and of love.” In this sense, Theresa is teaching us that prayer is a disposition and is far more an expression of the heart than an act limited to certain words and gestures.
Second and third, we must embrace the familiar and get vocal. This weekend the Church celebrates the great Carmelite reformer and Doctor of Prayer, St. Teresa of Avila. She encouraged those advanced in prayer and novices alike to recognize the importance of vocal prayers, like the Our Father, The Hail Mary, or The Glory Be. While it may not feel like saying the first prayers, we learned, as young Catholics, out loud accomplishes much; when we offer these repetitive prayers, we train our minds and hearts to create an ongoing awareness of and openness to God.
Once you’ve tried these few tips, consider meditating. Admittedly this can be hard at first – so ask the Holy Spirit to help! Start by reading a Scripture passage or a Mystery of the Rosary and slowly silencing your thoughts to better reflect on what you’ve read. Don’t get caught up on how long you need to meditate. Simply read and reflect and see where the Spirit leads you.
Finally, I’d like to share another excellent opportunity to enhance or improve your prayer life before Advent. Catholic Speaker and Subject Matter Expert Joan Watson will join us at OLPH this November 9th at 7 PM in the Church to deliver some practical steps on different ways to pray and suggestions for creating a plan for daily prayer. Learn more about Joan at https://joanmwatson.com/speaking. Please do yourself a favor, and join us for Joan’s Living on a Prayer talk. We don’t want to wait to pray! Remember, prayer is our relationship with the Lord and the means to strengthen that relationship.
In closing, I’d like you to offer one more request about prayer. Please join me in a prayer of thanksgiving for Judy Gruel, our Director of Faith Formation. The Archdiocese of Baltimore’s Institute for Evangelization recently recognized Judy for her 20 years of service to full-time ministry. May the Lord bless Judy as she continues to care for and teach our parish children, youth, and all our parishioners and staff engaged in ministry.
In the Lord,
Rev. Michael S. Triplett