If you are striving to live a Radical Catholic life then no doubt intercessory prayer plays a role in your life. I’m sure that many of you have a long list of intentions and that you commonly offer to pray for people just like I do.

The Memorare is my prayer of choice for my list of intentions. Each morning when I wake up I remember my intentions and think to myself I can’t forget my “Remembers.” The Memorare is a great way to put your intentions in the hands of the Blessed Mother. The words have the sense of urgency and a poetic rhythm that I think seem perfect for intercessory prayer.

If you are new to intercessory prayer this is a simple and great way to start praying for intentions today. Make a list and Start praying today.

Each morning I go through my list of things I want to commend to the Lord through his Blessed Mother:

  • That God will draw me closer. Remember O most gracious Virgin Mary…
  • For my marriage. Remember O most gracious Virgin Mary…
  • That God will draw my sons close. Remember O most gracious Virgin Mary…
  • For my son Max’s health. Remember O most gracious Virgin Mary…
  • For my job. Remember O most gracious Virgin Mary…
  • For our finances. Remember O most gracious Virgin Mary…
  • For my next talk. Remember O most gracious Virgin Mary…
  • For the readers of the blog. Remember O most gracious Virgin Mary…
  • For the Pope. Remember O most gracious Virgin Mary…
  • For and end to abortion. Remember O most gracious Virgin Mary…
  • For our nation. Remember O most gracious Virgin Mary…
  • For our Priests. Remember O most gracious Virgin Mary…
  • For conversion in my family. Remember O most gracious Virgin Mary…
  • For and end to modern day slavery. Remember O most gracious Virgin Mary…
  • For greater silence in prayer. Remember O most gracious Virgin Mary…
  • For Faith, Hope and Love. Remember O most gracious Virgin Mary…
  • For the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Remember O most gracious Virgin Mary…
  • For ( the intentions I’ve been given) Remember O most gracious Virgin Mary…
  • Etc. Remember O most gracious Virgin Mary…

And the list continues to go on for all the intentions I’ve agreed to pray for. I entrust them to Our Lady and wait until God’s will has been accomplished.

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection,
implored your help or sought your intercession, was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly to you, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother; to you do I come, before you I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in your mercy hear and answer me. Amen.

Without Ceasing…

December 14, 2010

One of the mysteries of the Christian life lies in the scripture 1 Thessalonians 5:17 which says, “pray without ceasing.” This simple phrase has been the subject of countless books, sermons, talks, retreats, classes and now this blog post.

How does one pray without ceasing? Are we to pray every single second of the day? How can this even be accomplished? The answer to this question is a lesson that every Christian must learn if they are striving for Sainthood.

One classic text that takes up this topic is called, “The Way of the Pilgrim.” The Pilgrim asks a wise man how he can pray without ceasing. The wise man tells him to take up beads and to pray the Jesus prayer 500 times a day. When he has done this the wise man tells him to pray the Jesus prayer 1000 times a day. Then 5000, 10,000 and so on. Eventually the pilgrim prays the Jesus prayer continually. Continuously each moment of the day he calls on the name of the Lord. At some point the pilgrims prayer becomes an inner disposition of his heart and he realizes that even without consciously doing so his inner heart of hearts cries out for God’s mercy without ceasing.

Another classic book on the topic is “The Practice of the Presence of God” b Brother Lawrence. Brother Lawrence suggests that we converse with God plainly all through out the day. He tells us to constantly remind ourselves of God’s presence throughout the day and in this way we will remain in constant conversation with the Lord.

Many Saints practiced different ways of constant prayer. St. Teresa offered herself to god 50 times a day. St. Francis of Borgia prayed 100 times each day. St. Gertrude repeated the prayer, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” 365 times a day. When St. Alphonsus Ligouri was asked how a soul can pray so much duing the day he replied, “show me a soul who truly loves God, and she will know how to do it.”

We must learn to pray constantly to our Lord. It is the way for us to grow in great graces. Start by remembering to pray 3 times a day, then each hour, and so on and so on. Eventually your soul will learn to pray constantly. When you learn to pray continuously a peace will rule your soul that cannot be easily taken.

There is not in the world a kind of life more sweet and delightful than that of a continual walk with God. Those only can comprehend it who practice and experience it; yet I do not advise you to do it from that motive.   Brother Lawrence

Sit down in silence. Lower your head, shut your eyes, breathe out gently, and imagine yourself looking into your own heart. Carry your mind, that is, your thoughts, from your head to your heart. As you breathe out, say, “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.” Say it moving your lips gently, or simply say it in your mind. Try to put all other thoughts aside. Be calm, be patient, and repeat the process very frequently.       From The Way of a Pilgrim

Pray without ceasing… 1Thessalonians 5:17

From sullied lips, from an abominable heart, from a tongue impure, from a soul defiled, accept my supplication, O my Christ, and disdain me not, neither my words, nor my ways, nor my shamelessness. Grant me to say boldly that which I desire, O my Christ. Or rather, teach me what I ought to do and say. I have sinned more than the sinful woman who, having learned where Thou wast lodging, bought myrrh, and came daringly to anoint Thy feet, my God, my Master, and my Christ. As Thou didst not reject her when she drew near from her heart, neither, O Word, be Thou filled with loathing for me, but grant me floods of tears, as with most precious myrrh, dare to anoint them. Wash me with my tears, and purify me with them, O Word; remit also my transgressions, and grant me pardon. Thou knowest the multitude of mine evils, Thou knowest also my sores, and Thou seest my wounds; but also Thou knowest my faith, and Thou beholdest my good intentions, and Thou hearest my sighs. Nothing is hidden from Thee, my God, my Creator, My Redeemer, neither a teardrop, nor a part of a teardrop. My deeds not yet done Thine eyes have seen, and in Thy book even things no yet accomplished are written by Thee. See my lowliness, see my toil, how great it is, and all my sins take from me, O God of all; that with contrite soul I may partake of Thy spotless and most holy Mysteries, by which all that eat and drink in purity of heart are quickened and deified. For Thou O my Master, hast said: Everyone that eateth My Flesh and drinketh My Blood abideth in Me, and I in him. True is every word of my Master and God; for whosoever partaketh of the divine and deifying grace is no more alone, but with Thee, my Christ, the three-sunned Light that enlighteneth the world. And that I may not remain alone without Thee, the Life-giver, my Breath, my Life, my Rejoicing, the Salvation of the world, therefore have I drawn nigh unto Thee, as Thou seest, with tears, and with a contrite soul. O Ransom of mine offenses, I ask Thee to receive me, and that I may partake without condemnation of Thy life-giving and perfect Mysteries, that Thou mayest remain, as Thou hast said, with me, a thrice-wretched one, lest the deceiver, finding me without Thy grace, craftily seize me, and having beguiled me, draw me away from Thy deifying words. Wherefore, I fall down before Thee, and fervently cry unto Thee: As Thou didst receive the prodigal, and the sinful woman who drew near, so receive me, the prodigal and profligate, O Compassionate One. With contrite soul I now come to Thee. I know, O Saviour, that none other hath sinned against Thee as have I, nor hath wrought the deeds that I have done. But this again I know, that neither the magnitude of mine offenses nor the multitude of my sins surpasseth the abundant long-suffering of my God and His exceeding love for mankind; but with sympathetic mercy Thou dost purify and illumine them that fervently repent, and makest them partakers of the light, sharers of Thy divinity without stint. And, strange to angels and to the minds of men, Thou conversest with them oftimes, as with Thy true friends. These things make me bold, these things give me wings, O Christ. And taking courage from the wealth of Thy benefactions to us, rejoicing and trembling at once, I partake of Fire, I that am grass. And, strange wonder! I am bedewed without being consumed, as the bush of old burned without being consumed. Now with thankful mind, and grateful heart, with thankfulness in my members, my soul and body, I worship and magnify and glorify Thee, my God, for blessed art Thou, both now and unto the ages.

Without prayer we will never be saints. Here are what some of the experts have to say about prayer:

  • For me prayer is a surge of the heart, it is a simple look towards Heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy. Saint Therese of Lisieux
  • Prayer is a conversation with God. St. Clement of Alexandria
  • Prayer is a wine that makes glad the heart of men. St. Bernard of Clairvaux
  • The great method of prayer is to have none. If in going to prayer one can form in oneself a pure capacity for receiving the spirit of God, that will suffice for all method. St. Jane Frances de Chantal
  • Virtues are formed by prayer. Prayer preserves temperance. Prayer suppresses anger. Prayer prevents emotions of pride and envy. Prayer draws into the soul the Holy Spirit, and raises man to Heaven. St. Ephraem
  • Prayer reveals to souls the vanity of earthly goods and pleasures. It fills them with light, strength and consolation; and gives them a foretaste of the calm bliss of our heavenly home. St. Rose of Viterbo
  • There is not in the world a kind of life more sweet and delightful than that of a continual conversation with God. Brother Lawrence
  • In worship, God imparts himself to us. C.S.Lewis
  • If the heart wanders or is distracted, bring it back to the point quite gently and replace it tenderly in its Master’s presence. And even if you did nothing during the whole of your hour but bring your heart back and place it again in our Lord’s presence, though it went away every time you brought it back, your hour will be very well employed. St.Francis de Sales
  • Silence is so powerful a language that it reaches the throne of the living God. Silence is His language, though secret, yet living and powerful. St. Faustina
  • Mental prayer in my opinion is nothing else than an intimate sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with Him who we know loves us. St. Teresa of Avila
  • One prayer of thanksgiving when things go badly is worth a thousand when things go well. St. John of the Cross
  • Prayer begins by talking to God, but it ends by listening to Him. In the face of Absolute Truth, silence is the soul’s language. Fulton J. Sheen
  • Prayer enlarges the heart until it is capable of containing God’s gift of Himself. Mother Teresa
  • Prayer is the inner bath of love into which the soul plunges itself. St. John Vianney
  • Whoever flees prayer, flees all that is good! St. John of the Cross
  • You go to pray; become a bonfire, a living flame, giving heat and light. St. Josemaria Escriva

 

We all know that to be Saints we must be people of prayer and not just any prayer but we must commune with God in intimate mental prayer. It can be a real struggle to achieve this intimacy with God. If you are struggling here are some thoughts that may help.

Silence isn’t just exterior: Silence is where this prayer we are longing for takes place but silence is even more important interiorly than exteriorly. Of course it is important to create an outer atmosphere that isn’t noisy and distracted but the most important silence must be cultivated within. Prayer is so much more about God speaking to us than it is about us speaking to God. Its easy to “unload” on the Lord during prayer with our petitions and needs but we must remember that God wants to speak to our hearts and He will if we give him our loving attention and strive for silence. Work for silence each day and have a time for petitions and needs so that we don’t worry when we are trying to listen. Once we gain interior silence exterior matters very little. Interior silence is where we meet the Lord

Sin affects our intimacy with God: God still draws us to himself even as sinners but sin does have an affect on mental prayer. First of all many sins interrupt our inner silence. This is especially true when it comes sins against charity or brotherly love. They creep into our mind even when we don’t want them. Sin also makes us feel hypocritical. Its hard not to feel weird trying to pray when we are so sinful. We seem to think that we should approach the Lord only as a spotless being but we will never become spotless without approaching the Lord as we are. Not complacent but damaged and in need of repair. If you are continually striving against sin you will see progress in prayer and vice versa.

Make an appointment and keep it: I have known so many people who are totally faithful to daily prayer but they fit it in whenever they can. Its not a set appointment they just make sure that they take the time to pray before the day is over. While this probably works for some people it is definitely better to keep a schedule for your prayer times. I’m not comfortable with the idea of “fitting” God into my schedule. When we have an “appointment” with God it says that it is important and we won’t interrupt it for other things. Prayer is a primary duty of a Christian put it into your schedule.

We can’t be saints without prayer. Invest time and effort into your time with Jesus. Work hard and the Holy spirit will do the rest.

When it’s God who is peaking…the proper way to behave is to imitate someone who has an irresistible curiosity and who listens at keyholes. You must listen to everything God says at the keyhole of your heart.  St. John Vianney

 

Jesus I trust in you…

August 23, 2010

Last weekend was extremely stressful. A bunch of personal issues and work being ridiculously busy and stressful made it a “perfect storm” of tension. At one point I had to take a time out and say “hold on now, I haven’t even invited Jesus into this situation. So I sat back and I just began to pray the prayer, “Jesus I trust in you.” I immediately calmed down and felt ready for whatever else was coming my way. Or so I thought…

It was Sunday afternoon when I was reciting this prayer. That night at about 11:30pm my wife woke me out of a sound sleep with the words, “I think I’m having contractions.” I thought to myself, “the baby wasn’t supposed to come for another 2 months.” I immediately started to panic in my mind. My wife and the baby’s well being, work, money, etc. were all filling my head. I was very upset.

It was almost like I thought because I said, “Jesus I trust in you” that meant that the turmoil would end. I thought it was like a magic formula. I say this and everything calms down. Obviously I was wrong.

At about 2:00am when the baby was born and he and my wife were safe I started thinking about the whole attitude I had. Jesus I thrust in you isn’t just a phrase. It isn’t just a mantra it’s a prayer and like all prayers you cant just say them with your mouth. We pray with our mouths but also with our minds and hearts. While my mouth was saying, “Jesus I trust in you” my heart and mind were saying, “Jesus I trust in you as long as…” You can fill that final part of the sentence with anything you want but it will always be bad.

It was a perfect example of not fully surrendering to God. I trusted Jesus to a point and then I abandoned Him. It turned out to be a great examination of conscience for me.

We all need to fully surrender to the Lord. There should be no point in our heart where we would abandon that trust.

Jesus, I trust in you

Lately I have been slipping. I haven’t been making it to Mass as often as I could. I’ve started to let some days slip by without praying my rosary and my time for silent prayer has been getting shorter and shorter.

In this blog I write often about different devotions and practices that assist us in the spiritual life. We need to have strong foundations to build on with those devotions and practices. If we look at Radical Catholic Living as a fortress then I would suggest that Holy Communion, The Rosary and Silent or Listening prayer are the foundation of that fortress. We build this fortress for two reasons: to protect against sin and temptation in order to commune more fully with God and also to have a place to launch attacks against the gates of hell in order to win souls.

The Rosary

It is in my opinion the most effective devotion in our battle against sin and our battle for souls. The daily rosary wraps us in Mary’s mantle and protects us from temptation. It is especially effective against sins we are already ensnared in. Have an intention? Place it in the hands of Our Lady though the rosary.

Silent Prayer

Intimacy with God is what we want. Right? We must strive to listen to what messages God has for us. Everything we do we must take to God in prayer. We have to communicate with our Blessed Lord everyday to acheive this intimacy.

Holy Communion

As the Catechism states, “the mass is the source and summit of Christian life. It is where it all comes together. We spend our day trying to surrender and listen to Jesus and finally in Holy Communion we receive him in the most intimate way possible.

Holy Communion, Silent Prayer and The Rosary are the foundations we need to build the fortress of Radical Catholic living. Start laying your foundation today.

We must learn to live with a disposition of constantly calling on the Lord to come into our lives. Every situation, every conversation, every problem, every journey, every minute and every second come Lord Jesus. Come into my life more fully. Lord Jesus I want all of you. Come in in your glory. Ask the Lord to come into your life so much that you do it without thinking. This request will become deeper than words. It will become an attitude and a disposition. Come Lord Jesus!

The Following is one of my favorite prayers from St. Symeon. This prayer and other like it can be found in The Lion Roars Prayer Book available from the Franciscan University book store. http://bookstore.franciscan.edu/ePOS/form=item.html&item=2801889584272&store=421

 

COME! By Saint Symeon The New Theologian 

 

Come, O true light! Come, O eternal life! Come, O hidden mystery! Come, O indescribable treasure! Come, O ineffable thing! Come, O inconceivable person! Come, O endless delight! Come, O unsetting light! Come, O true and fervent expectation of all those who will be saved! Come, O rising of those who lie down! Come, O resurrection of the dead! Come, O powerful one, who always creates and re-creates and transforms by your will alone! Come, O invisible and totally intangible and untouchable! Come, O you who always remain immobile and at each moment move all, and come to us, who lie in Hades, you who are above all heavens. Come, O desirable and legendary name, which is completely impossible for us to express what you are or to know your nature. Come, O eternal joy! Come, O unwithering wreath! Come, O purple of the great king our God! Come, O crystalline cincture, studded with precious stones! Come, O inaccessible sandal! Come, O Royal robe and truly imperial right hand! Come, you whom my wretched soul has desired and does desire! Come, you who alone go to the lonely for as you see I am lonely! Come, you who have separated me from everything and made me solitary in this world! Come, you who have become yourself desire in me, who have made me desire you, the absolutely inaccessible one! Come, O my breath and life! Come, O consolation of my humble soul! Come, O my joy, my glory, and my endless delight! I thank you that you have become one spirit with me, without confusion, without mutation, without transformation, you the God of all; and that you have become everything for me, inexpressible and perfectly gratuitous nourishment, which ever flows to the lips of my soul and gushes out into the fountain of my heart, dazzling garment which burns the demons, purification which bathes me with these imperishable and holy tears that your presence brings to those whom you visit. I give you thanks that for me you have become unsetting light and non-declining sun; for you who fill the universe with your glory have nowhere to hide yourself. No, you have never hidden yourself from anyone but we are the ones who always hide from you, by refusing to go to you; but then, where would you hide, you who nowhere find the place of your repose? Why would you hide, you who do not turn away from a single creature, who do not reject a single one? Today, then, O Master, come pitch your tent with me; until the end, make your home and live continually, inseparably within me, your slave, O most-kind one, that I also may find myself again in you, at my departure from this world and after my departure may I reign with you, O God who are above everything. O Master, stay and do not leave me alone, so that my enemies, arriving unexpectedly, they who are always seeking to devour my soul, may find you living within me and that they may take flight, in defeat, powerless against me, seeing you, O more powerful than everything, installed interiorly in the home of my poor soul. Yea, O Master, just as you remembered me, when I was in the world and, in the midst of my ignorance, you chose me and separated me from this world and set me before your glorious face, so now keep me interiorly, by your dwelling within me, forever upright, resolute; that by perpetually seeing you, I, the corpse, may live; that by possessing you, I, the beggar, may always be rich, richer than kings; that by eating you and by drinking you, by putting you on at each moment, I go from delight to delight in inexpressible blessings; for it is You, who are all good and all glory and all delight and it is to you, holy, consubstantial, and life-creating Trinity that the glory belongs, you whom all faithful venerate, confess, adore, and serve in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Living a Radical Catholic Life is all about constant watchfulness and renewal. We need to strive to live each moment totally for Jesus Christ. We can slowly claim every second of our lives for Christ but it takes a spirit of constant watchfulness.

There are two devotions in particular that I consider totally essential to winning this battle to live fully for Jesus Christ, the Hourly Examination and the Spiritual Communion.

The hourly examination of conscience was practiced by many saints because of its effectiveness in fighting against sin. Each hour you need to train yourself to take an account of your conduct during the last hour. At the beginning it helps to set a reminder. For example I had a reminder on my phone set for each hour. At the beginning of each hour I would take just a few minutes to take an account of my sins and failings. This gives us a great look at the sins that plague our life. It even helps to spend a day writing these sins down. We have to be methodical about ridding our life of sin. The hourly examination helps us greatly with this. The hourly examination can be easily accomplished by a quick review of the Ten Commandments, the Beatitudes and finally an act of contrition.

The Spiritual Communion is a way to invite Jesus into your heart when you can’t receive Holy Communion. Often through out our day we need to invite Jesus into our heart. It is a source of constant renewal. It also is a major grace in the life of someone who is struggling with serious sin. We should constantly invite Jesus in to our heart. Each time He will claim more of us for himself until we are totally His. St. Alphonsus Ligouri was a great proponent of the Spiritual Communion. The following prayer was written by him and should be used often through out each day.

My Jesus, I believe that Thou art present in the Blessed Sacrament. I love Thee above all things and I desire Thee in my soul. Since I cannot now receive Thee sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. As though thou wert already there, I embrace Thee and unite myself wholly to Thee; permit not that I should ever be separated from Thee.

The Hourly Examination and Spiritual Communion taken together become a powerful devotion resulting in the slow but sure conquering of sin and total surrender to Jesus. They are essential tools in our battle for total surrender.

We all say different prayers attributed to certain saints. Prayers for everyday, prayers for adoration, prayers before communion and study and so on and so on. The saints wrote these prayers because they tried to make their lives one long uninterrupted devotion. They sanctified every moment by asking for the grace to accomplish God’s will in that moment.

We should all be making each moment a chance to pray for ourselves and our world. We should make our own devotions for each activity of our day. I have friends who always remember to say a prayer to Our Lady every time they drive in their car. I have another friend who has a Hail Mary on his voicemail. Each and every moment can be a time for us to write our own devotional prayers to the Lord. There is something special about writing and practicing your own prayers and devotions. What are the prayers and devotions you have written or practice during the day?

Here are 2 devotional prayers I pray before communion and after confession:

On the way up to receive Holy Communion I pray the following prayer:

Oh Jesus as I approach your table to receive your body and blood I ask that you prepare my heart to receive all that you have for me. I ask that through this Holy Eucharist I will receive every grace, every gift, every look, every touch, every cross, every word, every message, every dream, every hope, every bit of faith and love, every suffering, (I continue until I get to the front of the line) and every good gift you have for me. I humbly ask to receive all of you my Jesus. Amen

After Confession I look upon the crucifix and I say the following prayer:

Lord Jesus Christ I thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. I ask you Jesus to come more deeply into my heart today. I know that my heart is over grown with the thorns and brush of sin and selfishness. I ask Lord that right now you rip from my heart the brush and thorns so that you may enter in. Do not be gentle Jesus. Now is the time for you to tear from my heart everything that is not of you. Do not worry about the pain it causes me. I know that my wounds will be comforted by your holy presence. Amen.

Make your lives a devotion