October 29, 2009

From My Confessor

Some strong and encouraging words on prayer from my confessor today:

Notice how you form your confession, because it displays exactly the insight you need to keep in mind: You begin your confession with the irregularities and missings of the mark you have committed in your prayer life. Lack of vigilance and failure in right effort in this area is the source of all of the other sins and voluntary faults you have confessed today.

Our morning meditation is vitally important. It is our daily contact with the Mystery Itself. Without it we will not have the strength we need to face the work and difficulties of the day. On the positive side, it is from our morning meditation that we have the contact with God that enables us to notice, name, and celebrate the grace that is working in the lives of the people we serve. Without that, we are sacramental bureaucrats at best, and this is a recipe for our own misery and the discouragement of the faithful.

The same goes for the Office. It is called the Hours because its prayers--along with our Mass and meditation--are supposed to frame our days, to structure everything else around our habitual contact with God. In the busy life of ministry it is all too easy to begin to recite our breviary as an extra obligation appended to all the things we 'have to do' in the course of a day. It becomes one more chore. When this happens we will find that our devotion fades and we start to rationalize our prayer away. We begin to say that the daytime hour or night prayer don't bind under serious sin or grave obligation, so we begin to forget about them. But this kind of desensitization to the obligations of our state is very dangerous and you must strive to avoid the beginnings of its patterns in your thoughts. We all know the scandal and tragedy of priests who seem to have built up an internal insensitivity to the obligations of the clerical state.

So be about your prayer!

Penance: the old ten and ten.

Father's counsel reminded me of one of my favorite quotes from John of the Cross:

Por ninguna ocupación dejar la oración mental, que es sustento del alma. (Grados de Perfección, 5)

"Don't give up your mental prayer for any other activity, for it is the sustenance of the soul."


Elizabeth Mahlou said...

I can relate to that final quote. I am sometimes sorry that I have to stop and go to work! :(

Thanks for the comment on confession. As a relatively new convert, I am still learning about that and what I should bring to the priest. Your commentary, while short, was quite elucidative.

As for the "old ten and ten," sorry, I am too new to know what the old is. :)

I enjoy your blog very much and have it linked for my blog readers on my blogroll. I hope they learn from it as much as I do.

Brother Charles said...

"The old n and n" refers to n Our Fathers and n Hail Marys.

"The old n, n, and n" refers to n Our Fathers, n Hail Marys and N Glory Bes.