Sunday, October 18, 2009

On Prayer

[As mentioned in my previous post, I am in the process of editing a high school prayer book for the school at which I work.  I am currently working on a few into sections.  I'm thinking about adding this as part of the introduction.  I can't go into too much detail as space is limited.]

Why is Prayer Difficult?

Because we have not prayed most of our life and as a result our spiritual faculties have atrophied, which is contrary with our bodies and athletics which we have been using and doing since a small child. In fact, I am sure there are many people reading this who learned to throw a ball before learning to speak.

As a result, we now need a kind of spiritual therapy to get our spiritual faculties into working order. Just like physical therapy, it is best to start small and build gradually till the faculties are properly strengthened. Moreover, no kind of therapy can be successful without a concrete plan of action. So when starting your spiritual therapy, make a plan and stick with it. Your plan might be as simple as praying a morning offering on waking, a visit to the chapel during lunch and an Our Father before hopping into bed, all prayed with sincerity.

Remember, simplicity is of great importance. Don't expect to move mountains with your first prayers. Above all, keep your prayer simple!

How do I pray?

This prayer book is not concerned with answering this question. For it is like asking, "How does a person (or child) begin to speak?" Simply, you begin by just doing it. The child who utters his first stumbling words knows not what he means or says and does so only out of imitation, but those stumbling words fill the parent with joy and excitement at the mere fact that the child has spoke. It is the same with us and God. Often we stumble through our first prayers not knowing the meaning of the words we pray other than knowing that we must pray, and this action fills God with great joy and excitement that His child has spoken with Him even if just for a moment.

Also, the only prayer master is the Holy Spirit. This book offers suggestions, vocal prayers and techniques to use in prayer, but ultimately it is you who prayers and the Holy Spirit who teaches you to pray.

What is Prayer?

Too often prayer is seen as a last resort. "All we can do now is pray" is a phrase uttered time and again in moments of tragedy, as if praying is the thing humanity does only after humanity has failed itself. The truth is, humanity fails itself on a regular basis and therefore, prayer must be the activity to which humanity first turns.

St. John Damascene once said, "Prayer is the raising of one's mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God." In other words, prayer is the practice of putting oneself in the presence of God. It is akin to two people, say a husband and wife, best friends, or a girlfriend and a boyfriend who enjoy just spending time with each other and without the passage of words between them (though if words pass then that is no problem).

In a word, prayer is about relationship. It is about our relationships with God and how that relationship impacts your relationships with other members of the mystical body of Christ.

Every relationship is a process that begins like a seed planted that then with proper work sprouts and with more time and attention the sprout develops into a full grown plant and after more time it buds, blooms, and produces fruit. However, this only happens if the plant is given time to develop with the proper nutrition and attention.

There are no shortcuts in developing a life of prayer. If you say you do not have time it is because you do not care enough about your relationship with God who is the maker of time and Who gives you time. There are 86,400 seconds in a day, and you say that there is not enough time in the day to take one second out of the 86,400 that God has given you today to give a sincere "Thanks."

Friday, October 16, 2009

Treading Water

My apologies for not posting for nearly a month. I've got caught up with school and the tasks associate with my job. In addition to teaching and directing campus ministry, I have somehow got put in charge of the liturgical choir at school (granted I am a musician and played part time in jazz groups, rock bands, punk and ska bands, have led praise and worship music for CCRNO as well as music at the LSU Catholic Center but I am not in any way a voice/choir guy), and am now leading the charge in editing a school wide prayer book -- and all the while getting the football coaches pissed at me and forcing the administration to put their money where their mouth is, as it is often the case at many Catholic schools that the administration speaks of the importance of the spirituality of the school, the catholic identity of the school and the campus ministry programs at the school yet fail to back it up with resources of any sort. So the result is a campus ministry program with only one good leg on which to stand. Directing Campus Ministry is certainly sucking the life out of me and leaving me far too exhausted to do some of the things in my life that I enjoy. My goal is to move out of campus ministry and into full time teaching and possibly some part time freelance writing.

Enough explaining.

On the flip-side (and more positive), I was interviewed the other day by OSV contributing editior Emily Stimpson on Music, which related to an earlier posting I did involving Music and the Passions. She interviewed Bob Rice, Professor of Catechetics and Worship leader at Franciscian University of Stubenville, and Chris Padgett, of the late Scarecrow and Tinman fame who is now a nation youth speaker and musician working on a PHd in theology from University of Daton. What does does this mean? I'm the only one without a flashy personal website. Emily Stimpson tells me that the article should be out sometime in November.

Also, I'll be giving my music and the passions presentation the the local World Youth Day in New Orleans, LA.

This is the first weekend that I do not have a school function or commitment in almost 2 months. So, I'm off into the woods to do some camping and paddling for the weekend.

Lastly, I just finished brewing my first batch of beer.  It is a nut brown ale and tastes good.  People keep asking me what am I going to call it, I think I have decided on the name Verso l'alto (Toward the Top) for the over arching name of my brews.  

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