What then do we as Catholics need to do as the millennium approaches? Pray! Pray! Pray! That is what our Blessed Mother, speaking to us as a true Mother who desires only our eternal salvation, has told us at Lourdes, at LaSalette, at Fatima, at countless places of apparitions around the world over the last two centuries, specifically at Medjugorje over these past fifteen years. Her formula: Prayer, Penance, Sacrifice, Fasting, Holy Mass and the Sacraments. These are all part and parcel a Prayer. No matter what walk of life we may find ourselves in, we can make every waking moment a living prayer if we but submit our wills to the Will of God.
The first step is a combination of all Our Lady asks of us. It is through definitive knowledge of our faith that we begin to live it. This definitive knowledge comes through infused knowledge given by Almighty God through the Holy Spirit, and imparted to us in Sacred Scripture and the Dogmas, Doctrines and Teachings of the Church contained in the catechesis of both the old Baltimore Catechism and the new Catechism of the Catholic Church. With this intensive study of the faith prayer evolves more readily. Prayer that is formulated such as the learned prayers - the Rosary along with many other beautiful and pertinent prayers approved by the Church and granting indulgences - and through meditation and contemplation. It is prayer that stokes the fires of faith, that ignites our souls to a sublime love of God which is most pleasing to the Triune Divinity. Prayer is the enabler, for prayer is the welcome mat for the Holy Spirit. Not one of us, not even the Holy Father, could arise in the morning and strive to lead a life of holiness if we did not have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us. It stands to reason if we have the Holy Spirit then we have the Father and the Son for the mystery of the Holy Trinity proclaims that God is Three Divine Persons in One.
Besides the prayers and sacraments handed down through Holy Mother Church, personal prayer is absolutely essential. Prayer is a power-house. Prayer is the root of Faith that is a strong anchor. Prayer lifts high the stem or stalk of Hope, and brings forth the blossom of Love for God, and for all He has created and all He wills. Prayer is the focus that keeps the eyes of our soul on God, and thus diverts our human eyesight away from all that is evil, while at the same time, allowing us to recognize the abounding evil in the world while, through prayer, we strive to eradicate the evil and its effects. In other words, prayer is the only antidote against the carbuncle of the world, the flesh and the devil.
All of us, at one time or another, have complained to ourselves, our neighbors and to God that we simply don't have enough time to pray. There are too many cares, concerns and duties of daily life that must be attended to, thus diminishing our personal prayer time. This being the case, we therefore justify and rationalize that since we do not have the time to pray, someone else must do the praying for us. We could use the same analogy when it is time to face God face-to-face at the Final Judgment - we'll just send someone to represent us. Wrong! Sorry, it doesn't work that way. For God didn't say He'd select only a few to do the praying, thus freeing the rest of us from all responsibility in this area. Though God calls for some such as religious contemplatives to concentrate totally on prayer, He does not exonerate others from not praying. In the Ten Commandments the Father laid down the precepts that each and every one of us must acknowledge that He alone is God, and that He created us for an eternity of joy with Him. This is His Command, and it is not debatable or adjustable. They are commandments, not suggestions! To develop this personal relationship with God is to embrace Him fully. And to embrace God we must pray, for PRAYER IS CONVERSATION WITH GOD. So many people mumble a prayer here and there, or race through their prayers, and then complain that they don't know if God heard them because they can't "hear" Him and nothing ever changes in their lives. As someone might say today in vernacular slang: "Get a life!!!" How we hurt God with this childish attitude of "poor me" without exerting any effort on our part. We, the children of God, are in sore need of an attitude adjustment, particularly as we approach the millennium. God, Who is Unchangeable, Whose Laws, Precepts and Commands oblige us to seek Him in all things. Prayer is that common ground, that cyberspace "link" to the One Who is the Author of life. It is prayer, incessant, heart-felt, that keeps in check the human emotions, passions, desires, longings, etc. Prayer diffuses the turbulent emotions that tear at us daily. Prayer seeks to lift up our hearts to God, and to surrender to Him in all things, acknowledging His Omnipotence and our nothingness. Prayer levels the human pride into glowing humility. Prayer embraces the straight and narrow path to salvation, bringing interior peace and joy while the grace accrued helps keep blinders on our inhibitions wrought by Original Sin. Prayer is that means which makes the embrace of the Sacred Cross not only possible, but something to long for.
In our individual as well as our collective effort to restore to Holy Mother Church the unity that God desires for His chosen Church, we are bound to pray both privately, and in communion with our fellow brothers and sisters. This prayer life is thus comprised of devotions said daily and privately or with a group such as the Rosary, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, the Divine Office, and various litanies and novenas. Whether at home or at work, or both prayer compels us to attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass not only on Sunday, by which we are obligated to attend under penalty of mortal sin, but also throughout the week as often as possible, knowing that this is paramount to any other obligation or duty we face.
Prayer is that "super highway" to God that makes all things possible. Just look at the alternative and we see, without prayer, we have a MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE to overcome for we face a bleak storm of controversy, lukewarmness and all manner of evil to our fallen human nature and the wiles of satan. Only through the Mercy of God, which we implore through prayer, can this Mission be POSSIBLE. Only through the Mercy of God will the faithful be filled with the Holy Spirit, and only through His Mercy shall we persevere in these turbulent, confusing times when deception is rampant and being deceived is all too easy.
That is why God has sent His Blessed Mother daily to Medjugorje for fifteen straight years. That is why she begs, pleads, implores and counsels us to truly live her Messages and share them with all we meet. And the essence of her messages, the focal point of all she imparts is the need for PRAYER. Constantly Our Lady tells us: "Pray! Pray! Pray!" She asks us to pray from and with our hearts. If we pray with God's will totally in mind and suppress our own wills, we truly will be praying with the heart. That's the only way to put our hearts totally into this business of salvation: by heeding the heavenly clarion to pray! This is illustrated in 15 years of messages, specifically the June 25th messages from 1981 on. In the next installment we will examine the signs God has sent to remind and warn us of our need for prayer, our need to "listen" to His Will.