Charity and Prayer

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Vincent de Paul. His life and teachings could certainly be lost if we did not pay careful attention. St. Vincent de Paul once noted that, “If a needy person requires medicine or other help during prayer time, do whatever has to be done with peace of mind. Offer the deed as your prayer.”
The importance in this statement is not the priority of charity but of prayer. In this statement, he is not saying that serving the poor is more important than prayer. The key is that one is often in prayer and has to interrupt it to help the poor. The only way to offer the deed as prayer is to be a truly prayerful person. The one who prays a lot will have to be interrupted from time to time. Thus, only from a person who prays often is the interruption capable of being prayer because it is a continuity of what he or she is always doing.


Where to pray?

Everyone wants to pray but most do not know the best way to pray or, more accurately, the best place to pray. In fact, every person of faith knows that prayer is essential to their faith life but so many do not know how to pray. Part of the problem has to do with the first phase of True prayer -- moving from distraction to meditation.

Today many people believe that prayer can be something done anywhere at any time, which in a sense has some merit. They pray in the car... They pray while exercising... They pray in the living room... All the places where much of their life "happens." But so few give time to praying in the best place -- in church! Why do so many believe they can achieve True prayer when they always pray where they are distracted? Here is where the problem begins for those who claim to pray when in fact they are actually mired in the stage of distraction.

When most people ask about prayer, it only takes a few questions to diagnose the problem. The fact of the matter is that they are distracted and have chosen to pray where the distractions are most numerous. Real and True prayer must get beyond the first stage if it is to be authentic. Yet how many never really pray in church and wonder why they are so distracted?

Even when the problem is diagnosed and the person is sent to the church to pray, they rarely get past the distractions because they are not willing to give it the time needed. The reality is that most people are frightened by the silence because it puts them in God's presence and they realize just how far from God they are. Yet the best place to pray is in church and it requires a good amount of time and effort to be True prayer. Just sitting in church marks a beginning but should not be taken as an end. And when the silence begins to feel uncomfortable, that is when the movement from the first stage is just beginning. But that movement is overwhelming because we know that we are unworthy of being in God's presence... So most convince themself that the distracted prayer is enough.

The whole process, as w can see, rests on the place where we pray. It is not enough to recite words if we truly want to be closer to God -- we must really make the leap of faith... Into silence before His awesome presence!!!


The End of a Pilgrimage

For several weeks I have been away and was unable to update this blog. While on pilgrimage, I did not have access to a computer with the software necessary to make posts. Now that I have returned I will hopefully have time to make updates on a regular basis once again.

Shepherds Today

The Last Bargaining Chip

Many pastors and parishioners today want to create or recreate their parish in a worldly image. For decades the Church has been besieged and infiltrated by the dictatorship or relativism and the effects have been devastating. It is imperative that Catholics take note of the process and admit how it has impacted. It is even more important that priests and pastors keep focus on the Nature of the Church in every moment of every day and remain faithful to Her alone.

The first problem many note is that they come to Mass but are not being fed. When asked, they complain that the homily was not good or they could not understand father. Such statements betray the catechetical failure in that being fed at Mass is with regard to the Grace communicated through the Eucharist. The starvation comes from those who approach unworthily and such seems to be expanding exponentially. Unfortunately, many priests take such comments as part of a popularity contest and try to “attract” more people to “his” Mass or “his” parish through entertaining the people in the pews. But playing with the liturgy and only giving “feel good” homilies betrays the reality of why Christ instituted the Mass in the first place.

The fact of the matter is that Christ established the Church and it is He Who acts at the Mass. It is His sacrifice on the Cross that feeds us. It is His Blood poured out that sanctifies. All priests and Catholics must begin from this position and accept the Truth. We are not in a sales game as the Church is not a product to be consumed or a place to be entertained. It is the vehicle for Salvation. Unfortunately too many priests in recent decades catered to the whims of those before them in an attempt to avoid offense and possibly drive people away. Yet more have left the Church during that period and the numbers continue to drop. Could the problem have stemmed from negotiating with the world rather than pursuing Salvation.

The problem today is that we have Americans sitting in the pews and, in many cases, not true Catholics. They approach the parish as a consumer and believe that they should get what they want. For decades, pastors and priests “negotiated” with aspects of the Mass and chose to entertain relativistic notions rather than uphold what the liturgy is.

Now, those who are dissatisfied with one aspect or another believe that they must take action if their wants are not met. This usually plays out in the numbers game... The two most common final bargaining chips made by parishioners today are: “I guess I have to changes parishes,” or “I am going to have to withdraw my financial support.” These are American bargaining chips, not Catholic. If all parishes and parishioners were truly Catholic, there would be little or no difference from one parish to the other and if such chips are played the result would be the individual endangering his or her own Salvation.

If all things Catholic are up for debate then playing the last bargaining chip would mean that Salvation is not the reason for the Church. Is this the Church people want?