Over the course of this year I want to do some
adult religious education and spiritual formation through this vehicle. The
topic I have chosen is to share with you the riches of the Catholic
tradition on prayer. Since the Catholic Church is a world wide body that
stretches back for 2000 years, our history has much to teach us about living in
stressful times. Throughout all of that long history there have been members
of the Church who have prayed and survived through all the struggles that can
come upon people. For the first 300 years the
When the Roman Empire began to weaken and collapse, the Church stepped in to provide services the state had previously taken care of: safety, health care, education, and so on. Thus it has been throughout two millennia. Through one traumatic era to another, our fellow believers carefully passed on the faith we have received down to our very day. This faith of ours has been passed down through persecutions, revolutions, wars, famines, genocides, the dark ages, the Renaissance, the Reformation, the Enlightenment and the entrance of the age of doubt and despair and terror.
Then came the 20th century when the Catholic Church experienced the martyrdom of more of her people than all the martyrs of the previous centuries of the Church put together.
How has this Church of ours survived? It even survived Napoleon who told his aide that it was his plan to destroy the Church. (Napoleon even imprisoned the pope for a few years.) That aide was a bishop who told him that if the Church had survived 1800 years (at that time) with the clergy's doing all they could to destroy the Church, but unsuccessfully, then Napoleon would not destroy it either!
How has the Church survived? Because the Lord told Peter, and through him told us, that the gates of hell would not prevail against this Church; and that Peter was to hold the keys to the
So we have the Lord's promise. But we also have 2000 years' history of every generation's learning how to pray to Christ our Lord and God. When people become a people of prayer, specifically Christian prayer, then the world is transformed.
In this space in the coming months I want to confirm you in your prayer, encourage you to be more faithful to it, and to give you some very solid suggestions on how to improve your prayer life. All of us are very busy people, but all of us can become mystics even as we go about our daily lives. Indeed some of you already are mystics.
Whether or not we become mystics, all of us are called to be
in an intense personal relationship with the Lord Jesus. This is what makes us
His disciples. One cannot be a true disciple of Christ if one does not pray.
We can do everything we can think of to convey information and the teachings of the Church. But they only make sense if we also learn how to pray, how to be in a loving, trusting relationship
with the Lord. I hope and pray that these occasional writings are helpful to you in leading your families to the True and Final Object of our lives: union with God in Christ Jesus.