My Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
Pope Francis recently said that prayer is talking to Jesus as you would talk to a friend. He said that prayer engages the heart and the emotions. It is through prayer that we deepen our friendship with God. Through prayer, we are able to abandon our worldly desires and align our will with His holy will, so that we know true happiness.
Sometimes we want to complicate the idea of prayer, and we may become entrenched in what we think prayer should be, rather than understanding that prayer is the breath of life through, with and in God. During the Liturgy of the Hours, we begin our day praising God and offering our day to God to sanctify our time. We end our day with thanksgiving for His sanctification and commend our spirit to God during our night rest. We taste the food of consecrated bread and wine that we become Christ in the world. We greet each other as Christ and listen to their words or discover their wounds and we enfold them in His generous mercy. We speak to each other with His spirit of Peace, of forgiveness. Every moment of every day is our prayer, our offering to God, if we let it be.
We would have to change our idea about how we live in order for prayer to become our very breath. We would come to understand our very being as wonderfully made of God and that we cannot divide God; that He is wholly present through each one of us. Of course, we may have many tasks to accomplish but all of these would have an overlay of God so that seamlessly they are an offering to God. When we are able to live as prayer, we become joyful.
Pope Francis says, “Discerning what is happening within us is not easy, for appearances are deceptive, but familiarity with God can melt doubts and fears in a gentle way, making our lives increasingly receptive to His ‘gentle light,’ according to the beautiful expression of St. John Henry Newman.”
October is known as Respect Life Month. We pay particular attention to respect life because all life is given by God for God. He calls us to be His friend. He is the prayer and the summation of all prayer. He remains at the door of our heart. Pope Francis offers, “He remains close at hand, at heart’s reach because He is always faithful.”
The adults we serve at Bishop Grady Villas help us to understand the breath of prayer. Bishop Grady Villas is a residential community for adults with developmental disabilities. It is a ministry of the Diocese of Orlando organization, Magnify. Kevin Johnson, executive director of Magnify proclaims, “We believe in the dignity of all individuals especially those who have not had the opportunity to share their gifts. I think purity of heart is not something you experience until you’ve been to a place like ours. Caitlin, one of the people we serve, sums that up pretty well as she offers, “I’m best friends with Bishop Noonan and he’s the best thing in the whole world.”
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we prayed as Caitlin does and see everyone as the “best thing in the whole world.” May our prayerful living show no favorites because our very breath is the heart of God’s love for all people.
October 21, 2022