Vol.6 No.2 DoM E Message
Spiritual Gift of the Week
Lord, give us the courage and strength to fulfill your purposes,
just as you gave courage and strength to the Virgin Mary, your mother.
Spiritual Instruction of the Week
Jesus asks us to be prudent in the ways we manage the people,
places and things that define and enrich our lives.
Pray, seek his wise counsel and listen to his voice.
Dear Beautiful Daughters of Mary,
Prayer is important. Commitment to prayer is essential if we are to deepen in our relationship with God. On Tuesday, Lynn Clapper offered her perspective on prayer—please read and reflect upon her words. Thank you Lynn for your beautifully presented insights into developing the holy habit of prayer:
Several weeks ago, two of our granddaughters spent the night with us. Elizabeth is nearly three years old, and her sister, Madeleine, is in the second grade. I was bending down to help Elizabeth put on her sandals when she patted my head with her little hand. “G, she said, your hair is different.” I told her that my color-treated hair felt coarse as compared with silky blonde locks. Her second grade sister then chimed in and said “No, G. You know that part of your hair closest to your head that’s a different color? That’s what she is talking about.” I laughed, but the lesson was not lost on me. Despite my best efforts to stay in front of my gray hair, in the end I was only fooling myself.
I share this story with you because until 16 months ago, this attempt to convince myself of the effectiveness of my hair color perfectly described the state of my prayer life. I tried to tell myself that I was a busy girl, and my fast and furious conversations with God were my personal form of prayer. My prayer style fit my personality. God understood. But, deep down, I knew it was not enough, and I found myself yearning for more. More of what, I was not sure, but in Daughters of Mary some time ago I heard one member speak about wanting more time with God only confirmed what I knew to be true. The time I spent with the Lord was not quite the time the Lord wanted to spend with me.
Finally submitting to the Holy Spirit’s constant prodding to do something, anything, to make a change in my life, I approached Deborah regarding the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, and she suggested that I make the Retreat in Everyday Life, as directed by the 19th Annotation of St Ignatius. Not having any idea at all of what I was in for, I agreed, and for the next 34 weeks I spent an hour each day with the Lord. There are not enough words to describe the ways that God deepened my relationship with him through this retreat, but the format for daily prayer that Ignatius asked me to adopt is something that I would like share with you this morning.
There are seven essential components.
1. Commitment. In the Spiritual Exercises, Ignatius correctly assumes that if you are making a retreat, you want a deeper relationship with the Lord. You are already committed. For us, in everyday life, the important first step is to commit to carving time out of our busy lives for prayer. Easier said than done. However, do not think that you cannot do this. As a part of this new commitment to the Lord, your first grace can be to ask simply for the time to spend in prayer. Then, watch how he opens up your day.
2. Time and Place. As you begin, it is helpful to pray at the same time, and in the same place, each day. First thing in the morning is a time that even Jesus chose to pray…begin your day in conversation with the Lord…but the time is really of your choosing. Find a place that is private, free of distraction, and comfortable. This is a special time during which you do not want interruptions. Your cell phone cannot come with you.
3. Open your prayer time. This time with the Lord is a set time each day. It has a beginning and an ending. As you approach your designated place, offer an ‘Our Father.’ I use this moment to ask for the grace for that day, and for the Holy Spirit to be present to me in this time. In addition, Ignatius suggests a simple prayer of submission. ”I ask for the grace that all my actions, intentions, and operations, be ordered purely for the praise and service of the Divine Majesty.” While it sounds almost medieval, you will be amazed at how this little prayer can change you.
4. Compose yourself. As you sit down, spend just a minute readying yourself for this time with the Lord. If you have your journal with you, take a moment to start your page for the day…date, grace for the day. Take a deep breath. Reflect on your grace for the day. So many times in the accounts of Jesus’ ministry, he asks his followers “What do you want?” or “What can I do for you?” Your answer to this question each day is your grace. Open yourself to the Lord. Tell him what is on your mind.
5. Pray. Now, herein lies the real challenge. We are not talking about a Rosary, or a string of set prayers, or your offering to the Lord a list of things in your life that could use his help. We are not even talking about your apology to the Lord for the wrong you have done. That type of prayer is for the Examen, at another time in the day. You have come to this time seeking a deeper relationship. You have already told the Lord what you want him to do in the grace you asked of him. Now, you must listen. You must be still. Still. Let him talk. You must listen. You want to know him better. The only way to do that is to listen for his voice.
6. Close your prayer time. You will have already decided on a duration for this prayer time, and when that time is up, close your prayer with conversation and prayer. This is when you actually converse with the Lord about what he has revealed to you. Say the words out loud. Then, close with more formal prayers that will signify a formal ending to this time. The Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be are perfect for your closing. I also like to include the Take, Lord, and Receive prayer before these last three, as an offering of myself going into the day.
7. Reflect. Sometime later, maybe in just a few minutes while your prayer is still fresh, or later in the day if you enjoy reflecting throughout the day on your prayer time, write down a few thoughts in your journal about time with the Lord. How did you feel? What did he show you? There is no rule here. Your journal reflections are your diary of your relationship with the Lord. In addition, please consider asking someone to act as your prayer partner, or director. In the retreat, the retreatant meets each week with a spiritual director to share any confusions, or questions that may arise during prayer. As you adjust to this new time with the Lord, you may want to talk with someone who is close to you, but is spiritually sophisticated enough to offer you guidance. As Elise Labbe-Coldsmith mentioned several weeks ago, just voicing an issue out loud often makes a problem seem so much smaller.
There you have it. Seven steps. I know you have apprehensions in your minds….and so, let me get just ahead of you. Do not buy into the lie that you do not have time in your busy day for prayer. There is nothing the enemy wants LESS than for you to devote special time to God. It is the enemy’s most successful tactic. God wants nothing MORE than for you to devote time to him, and if you tell him that you want more of him, he will be there. If necessary, your grace can be simply to find the time to spend with him. As you begin, commit to just 15 minutes in your day for prayer, if your schedule is especially tight. Watch and see if soon that does not begin to stretch into a bit longer.
The enemy’s other tactic is to convince you that God is not with you during your prayer, or that he does not hear you. At first, you may feel frustrated as you adjust to the seven steps. Let me encourage you to stay with your prayer time, and not let your frustration overwhelm you to the point that you are not listening for the Lord, and are unable to hear his voice. If you have asked the Lord to be present to you, he will be present. He is present. Even if it seems that he is silent, he is present. Before long, the seven steps will come naturally to you, and your prayer time with the Lord will become so important that you cannot imagine doing without.
I share this with you not because prayer is easy for me. I assure you, it is not. Time is always a challenge. But, in all sincerity, if I can do this, anyone can. While I no longer spend an hour a day in prayer, I do often yearn for the retreat and the days when I did. My prayer time is shorter now, but the Lord is just as present to me…perhaps, even more so. If you, too, are yearning for more of the Lord, I encourage you to give the seven steps a try. Then, wait, and be truly amazed at how Jesus can change your life.
Thank You Fr. Anthony for a beautiful day of prayer!
We meet one day a year for a Day of prayer—our purpose is to pray, reflect and renew! God never fails us on this day. We are grateful to Fr. Anthony Wieck, S.J. for joining us again this. year. His presentations on the Gospel of Mark were thoughtful, well planned, and inspiring. Most importantly however we left spiritually refreshed. “Best Day of Prayer ever”—-is one most often spoken review of the Day. “His words were spoken just for me”—is another expression of praise voiced by several women. Fr. Anthony’s charism for giving retreats continues to be a blessing for all of us. Thank you Fr. Anthony for your many gifts. Thank you for sharing yourself with us. Thank you for guiding our understanding of the Gospel. Most importantly, thank you for reminding us to turn to Mary and ask for her guidance, as we pray and open our hearts to the mercy of God. May God continue to bless you. Pray for us and know that we pray for you.
Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us.
Veni, Spirito Santo, la misericordia di Dio ci salva—
Come Holy Spirit, it is by God’s mercy that we are saved,