December 9, 2018 - Pastor Message01/18/2019
THE YEAR OF PRAYER PART 1: WHAT IS PRAYER?
“Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you. Do not quench the Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 5:1619).
“Prayer is the raising of one’s mind and heart to God” (St. John Damascene).
In order to help draw our attention in a special way to the vital importance of prayer in our lives, the pastoral team of St. Boniface has decided to designate the new liturgical year as a Year of Prayer at our parish. Periodically, in this column, in Sunday homilies, and in other ways throughout the year, we will reflect together on different aspects of prayer. We begin this Advent season with a reflection on the meaning of prayer.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes prayer as a gift, a covenant, and a communion. First, as a gift, prayer arises from within us in response to God’s action in our life. It is our “response of faith to the free promise of salvation and also a response of love to the thirst of the only Son of God” (2561), who took flesh and was born into the world to seek and to save us when we had become lost in the darkness of sin.
As a covenant, whether expressed in words or in silence, whether in gestures or in stillness, genuine prayer arises from the deepest recesses of our hearts, the “place of encounter” where we, God’s children made in his own image and likeness, live in relation with him (2563). It is here that God’s saving covenant with us takes shape as his Spirit embraces our spirit and lifts us up, directing us wholly to the Father in and through the Son (2564).
God’s covenant with us is thus a communion of persons: God with us and we with God. Prayer, therefore, is the deliberate practice of being in the presence of the God who is in communion with us, and our prayer life is simply the habit of being in his presence always, raising our hearts and minds to him in all circumstances of our daily life. This can take as many different forms as there are different people and different experiences, several of which we will explore together in the coming year. But for now, during this Advent season, let us begin by simply spending some time reflecting on the meaning of prayer, responding to God’s gift of the new covenant of salvation by deepening our communion with the Father, in the Son, through the Holy Spirit.
Fr. Marc Stockton