In today’s Gospel, Jesus “slips in” one of His most important messages: to pray without ceasing. This commandment that Jesus gives is one the early Church took up with great fervor. It inspired a vast number of individuals to go to the desert to dedicate their lives to prayer, and who were later called the Desert Fathers and the Desert Mothers. From this group sprung up the monastic movements and later all the religious orders from Franciscans to Claretians. While the monasteries focused on prayer 7 times a day, the religious Orders, and congregations, like the Claretian Missionaries who celebrate our 40th anniversary here at Sacred Heart later this month, focus on being contemplatives in action. Whereas many faithful would like to have the luxury to pray all day, this is not a realistic option in the modern world for most, but the path of prayer in action, as the Claretians do, is a real possibility.
What would it look like to be a contemplative in action? It starts as St. Ignatius describes. “To see God in all things.” To see the morning sun and think of the light of God illuminating your path. It can be looking at a meal before you and giving God thanks for the gifts of the Earth, and to thank God for our daily bread, even if our bread is a cookie or cracker. It can be asking God to bless each person we meet throughout our day, especially the difficult ones. It can be as easy as turning off the radio or music for a few moments to hear birds sing and be grateful for nature. It can be listening to uplifting music without vulgar words or images. It can be offering to help others, like our parents or spouses, before they ask us to help. It is, after a long day of activity, resting in God’s arms as we lay our head on the pillow.
The beautiful thing about putting God into the ordinary moments of our day is that we will soon see the little places we can sneak in a prayer. Some have used a practice of making a short prayer on the hour at every hour (8, 9, 10, etc.) as a way to put God throughout the day. As one “slips in” little prayers of thank you, blessing, or petition all through the day, one sees how easy it is to “slip in” a few more without taking so much time. Of course, we can include Scripture reading, rosaries, novenas, time before the Blessed Sacrament in our days, the possibilities are truly limitless like God’s love and that is why we do any of this, out of love for God.
Prayer or Scriptures is never meant to be a rule or burden, rather a tool to make our life better. A constant reminder we are never alone, and God is at our side. Our prayer is an act of our love to let Him know we are there too.
With a heart for Mission,