Thursday, September 6, 2012

About Busyness and Prayer

The Gospel Reading for this past Wednesday’s daily Mass says that after Jesus had spent a great deal of time healing the sick, "At daybreak, Jesus left and went to a deserted place." (Luke 4:42)

From other Gospel passages we know that he went to deserted places and to mountain tops to pray. Jesus, in his humanity, needed some solitude and silence to renew his relationship with God his Father in prayer. If he needed to pray, how much more do we need this, also!

I regularly think about this need for silence and prayer, because I desire this so much in my life. It is often my own fault that I don’t pray as much as I’d like; that I find myself busy with many things like just about everyone else today.

St. Gregory

Monday, September 3, was the Feast Day of St. Gregory the Great (Read about Gregory HERE). Gregory lived in a time (the late 6th century) when the Church in Rome was having to take over many of the civic functions of the State because the Roman Empire was collapsing in the West. Gregory rose through various public offices until he left it all and entered monastic life. Yet in 590 he was elected Pope and had to leave the quiet of the monastery.

The Office of Readings for September 3rd quotes a homily of St. Gregory where he says:

"In the monastery I could curb my idle talk and usually be absorbed in my prayers. Since I assumed the burden of pastoral care, my mind can no longer be collected; it is concerned with so many matters...With my mind divided and torn to pieces by so many problems, how can I meditate or preach wholeheartedly without neglecting the ministry of proclaiming the Gospel?" (Read the entire quote from the Reading HERE)
I always derive comfort when I read these words by St. Gregory. I do not have even half of the responsibilities he had, but I can relate to the challenge he faced of finding time to be collected and to pray and mediate without being so preoccupied with problems and all the noise of our society today. We have constant information overload today and there are words and noise everywhere we go.

When I was in my first year of Seminary, I was studying at St. Meinrad’s Monastery in Southern Indiana. The monks of St. Meinrad prepare men for service in various Dioceses. Being in a monastery environment, we were of course exposed to much of the monastic life and worship which was quite inspiring.

St. Meinrad Monastery

I probably would have entered the monastery if I had remained at St. Meinrad’s, but the rest of my Seminary training was back in Florida at St. Vincent de Paul Seminary in Boynton Beach. I’m glad for the years and friendships I had at St. Vincent. But I still think about the monastery. I think about it because it represents a life that devotes a great deal of time to prayer (For more on the monastic vocation go HERE). The monastic environment is designed to provide regular times of silence for meditation. The other complementary prayer in the monastery is the Liturgy of Hours and the Mass (what is called the Opus Dei, Latin for work of God).

I am periodically challenged to honor this "monastic streak" in myself, not by entering a monastery but by honoring the call to a more prayerful life. I ask for prayer that I might pray more. Perhaps I’ll write more about this subject since I know I am not alone in swimming against the culture’s current to stay benumbed by distraction and busyness. As I read by chance this week a quote from Ghandi: "There has to be more to life than simply increasing its speed."

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