“Maybe we are facing as new and different kind of epoch in the Church’s history where Christianity will again be characterized more by the mustard seed, where it will exist in small, seemingly insignificant groups that nonetheless live an intense struggle against evil and bring good into the world —- that let God in.” ~Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, (now Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI), Salt of the Earth, Ignatius Press, 1997
“The after life in the biblical vision is being invited to the table of God. And that means that now you are no longer servants of God, you are friends. The covenant is manifested because we eat together. L’Arche is about sharing the food; it means companionship, company, it means accompanying people. The vision of friendship is eating together. There is a very deep link between food and love; our culture has lost sight of that.” ~Jean Vanier, founder of L’Arche
“It is invaluable to converse with Christ, and leaning against Jesus’ breast like his beloved disciple, we can feel the infinite love of his Heart. We learn to know more deeply the One who gave Himself totally, in the different mysteries of his divine and human life, so that we may become disciples and in turn enter into this great act of giving, for the glory of God and the salvation of the world. Through adoration, the Christian mysteriously contributes to the radical transformation of the world and to the sowing of the Gospel. Anyone who prays to the Savior draws the whole world with him and raises it to God. Those who stand before the Lord are therefore fulfilling an eminent service. They are presenting to Christ all those who do not know him or are far from him; they keep watch in his presence on their behalf.” ~St. Pope John Paul II. From his 1996 letter to the Bishop of Liege, written on the occasion of the 750th anniversary of the first celebration of the Feast of Corpus Christi.
“To evangelize…..in a world in transformation there is need of a renewed and transformed Church by contemplation and personal contact with Christ, by the power of the Spirit. The Spirit of Christ is the source of renewal, which makes us find new ways, new creative methods, different forms of expression for the evangelization of the present-day world. He it is who gives the strength to undertake the missionary endeavor and the joy of the proclamation, so that the light of Christ will illumine all those who do not yet know him or have rejected him. Required for this is the courage to “reach all the fringes that are in need of the light of the Gospel” (Evangelii gaudium, 21). Neither our weaknesses, nor our sins, nor the many impediments that are placed in our path can hold us back from witnessing and proclaiming the Gospel. It is the experience of the encounter with the Lord Jesus which drives us and gives us the joy of proclaiming Him to all peoples.” ~Pope Francis. Adress to the Pontifical Mission Society, May 09, 2014
“There are many priests, seminarians and consecrated persons here today; be close to them and support them! And if, in the depths of your hearts, you feel the same call to the priesthood or consecrated life, do not be afraid to follow Christ on the royal road of the Cross!” ~St. John Paul II, Closing Homily, WYD 2012
“Try to exclude the possibility of suffering which the order of nature and the existence of free-wills involve, and you find that you have excluded life itself.” ~C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain
Directee: You’re the best spiritual director I’ve had yet.
Me: Oh? How many spiritual directors have you had?
Directee: You’re the first.
“Martyrdom is the translation of a Greek word that also means witness. . . and so we can say that for a Christian the path follows in the footsteps of this witness, Christ’s footsteps, to bear witness to Him and, many times, this witness ends up in laying down one’s life. You cannot understand a Christian without witness. We are not a ‘religion’ of ideas, of pure theology, beautiful things, of commandments. No, we are a people who follow Jesus Christ and bear witness – who want to bear witness to Jesus Christ – and sometimes this witness leads to laying down our lives”. ~Pope Francis, Morning Homily, May 06, 2014
Note from the Chair:
Dr. Kevin Vost is a good friend and was among the greatest sources of encouragement when my first book “Faith at Work: Finding Purpose Beyond the Paycheck” was released. In today’s guest post, Kevin shares his gift of encouragement with us all. I don’t know about you, but finding my mind wandering during prayer is nothing new. After reading today’s post, I hope you’ll join me in persevering.
Thank you for visiting, and enjoy! While you’re here, please consider leaving a prayer request for Br. Rex, and making a contribution to our Home for a Hermit campaign.
I get distracted when I pray. Does God stop listening?
No, He doesn’t. One of St. Thomas Aquinas’ questions in his masterful Summa Theologica is “Whether Attention is a Necessary Condition of Prayer?” His answer may be a bit of a surprise (and perhaps a relief):
“Purposely to allow one’s mind to wander in prayer is sinful, and hinders the prayer from having fruit….But to wander in mind unintentionally does not deprive the prayer of fruit.” (ST, II-II, Q. 83, a. 13).
Thomas lists three main effects of prayer:
1) merit that comes from all acts inspired by the love of God,
2) impetration (the production of petitions or requests to God), and
3) the spiritual refreshment of the mind of the one who prays.
For the first two effects, simply the initial intention to pray is sufficient, even if attention is lost, although one must have the initial intention. For the last, the immediate effect of spiritual refreshment of the mind comes only while paying attention.
Further, Thomas describes three kinds of attention we can bring to vocal prayer:
1) attention to the words so we say them right,
2) attention to the meaning of the words, and
3) attention to the end or goal of the prayer—that is, God.
Here, only the third is essential. Thomas notes that even the slow-witted who can’t remember or understand the words of certain prayers are still able, within their limits, to raise their thoughts to God. Further, even among the learned and holy, “this attention, whereby the mind is fixed on God, is sometimes so strong that the mind forgets all other things…” (ST, II-II, Q. 83, a. 13).
So, to put it in a Thomistic nutshell, no one is more aware than God of the limitations of our human nature, fleeting attention and all. God appreciates the fact that we try to pray, even when our wandering minds go astray!
Dr. Kevin Vost is the author of several Catholic books, including, The One-Minute Aquinas, (Sophia Institute Press, 2014), from which this post was adapted. Dr. Vost drinks great drafts of coffee while meditating mirthfully on Thomistic tomes in the company of his wife, two sons, and two dogs, in Springfield, Illinois. Kevin can be found online at www.drvost.com.
“And a devotion to the Eucharist that is ardent, constant and that carries over into works also has the effect of nourishing and fostering the inner perfection of his soul and assuring him, as he carries out his apostolic duties, of an abundance of the supernatural powers that the strongest workers for Christ must have.” ~John XXIII. Paenitentiam Agere, 48. 1962