Thursday, October 17, 2013

"Pray always without becoming weary"

There are two sides to Sunday’s Readings(29C) for October 20, 2013, One theme is “Do not get tired when you are praying.” The other is, when you do, there will be support. Our Discussion Questions will guide your Online Sunday Bible Study sessions with your family, friends and church groups.

Ground Rules for Prayer

The classic way to stay in touch with God is prayer. Small wonder then that Luke writes so insistently about prayer when he shows us how to accompany Jesus on his journey to Jerusalem. And we amusingly recall the story of the priest who was watching a boxing match. The man next to him watched a boxer make the Sign of the Cross. He asked the priest, "Will that help him?" "Yes." replied the cleric, "if he can box." There's a lot we can learn about prayer from this story.

And we have much to learn about our personal praying habits. This Sunday, Jesus is asking, will not the indulgent Father, who has no need of bribes, give us all the tender loving care we need? Does this mean that all we have to do is send a fax and God will send our request by same day Federal Express? Negative, says Fr. James Gilhooley. Like everything else, prayer has certain ground-rules. He lists them down for us.

Fr. John Foley, S. J. says this is where what he refers to as the non-tiredness rule comes into play. Jesus tells us this Sunday to “Pray always without becoming weary.” Yet most of us have experienced drowsiness when we try to pray. And there, Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio points out, is the rub. We are often wrong about what to ask for, because we misidentify what will really make us happy. So before talking to Him, which is certainly dimension of prayer, we need to listen to Him, which is an even more important dimension of prayer.

Persist in Prayer

Have you ever wondered whether it is right to pester God with our trivial concerns? Have you been perplexed on how to pray amidst a very busy life? Dr. Marcellino d'Ambrosio answers both these questions. Then Fr. Demetrius R. Dumm, O.S.B. points to us that although the ideal prayer for Christians is praise and thanksgiving, there is also a place for prayers of petition, as this Sunday's gospel parable makes quite clear.

Jesus told this story to us disciples so that we might be encouraged. College student Steve Chanderbhan uses the 1990s blockbuster sports movie "Rudy" to illustrate his point. Rudy is like the widow. Each perseveres in goodness – Rudy by working hard on and off the field; the widow by insisting on justice. Each has good desires. And each gets those good desires granted. And none of us face longer odds than the widow, Fr. Orly Sapuay, M.S. reminds us. But because of her persistence and faith even the unjust judge gave her what was hers by right.

This story is meant to reassure us. Persist in prayer. A setback, Fr. Joseph Pellegrino tells us, can lead to a strengthening, a knowledge of a new situation that needs to be avoided. And then Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB isolates the surprising thing about prayer: its first effect is in us. Our own minds and hearts are shaped by prayer as we seek opportunities to translate that prayer into practice, the true test of its authenticity.

Now try and answer this week's burning question: What does "pray without ceasing" mean to you? Share your thoughts or see what others are saying.

Even When God Says No

One of the problems associated with today’s readings, Fr. Alex McAllister SDS points out, is that we take the Gospel story as a straight analogy of God's way of dealing with us . And we are left with the question: Why does God not answer our prayers straight away?

It is common for all of us to have to struggle as to the great mystery of God’s providence and will. If it is not our own struggle then we must often commiserate with others who are in distress. Msgr. Charles Pope offers a reflection on the many reasons why God delays His response or even says No to our prayers.

But then again, many prayers do get answered. Fr. Ron Rolheiser talks about presiding last week at a particularly joyous wedding. All weddings are special, but this one was particularly special. Why? The young woman getting married was wonderfully radiant and healthy, but she was a cancer survivor. And you've probably heard about the 33 miners dramatically rescued from the mine after more than two months trapped underground. Allow us to show you how the 18th miner out of the hole celebrated his new life. It is a story of true prayer in action.

The Perfect Prayer is Holy Mass

The holy Mass is the experience here and now of this most glorious battle of God over the most fearsome enemy of death. But in order that His victory may be in us and that we may find life unending in Him we must pray always this prayer of victory. Father Cusick says we must not lose the heart of sacrifice so that our sins may not tear us from His grasp. Thus, Fr. Phil Bloom tells us, persistence also applies to the Mass. If the Mass is the highest form of prayer, we must keep at it - weekly or even daily.

In a testimony to the power of prayer at holy Mass, Scott Hahn opens up about his conversion from extreme anti-Catholic Protestant to Catholicism. And it finally happened upon attending the Holy Mass and realizing what the Early Christians had to do with it. He adivises that like the Early Christians, we should learn to see again the Gospel as fresh and attractive.

The Church & the New Evangelization

To address this and the many other challenges we all face, three years ago this week the Vatican created a new office: The new Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization. In officially decreeing the New Evangelization Council, Benedict XVI at that time re-affirmed a timeless truth: "The Church has the duty to proclaim always and everywhere the Gospel of Jesus Christ."

So what does this pope and his predecessor mean by “new evangelization”? Eric Sammons says simply this: the Church needs to re-present the truths of our Faith to societies which were originally seeped in the Gospel but now have become adrift in secularism. The content of the Catholic Faith has not changed – and will never changed – but how we present it must change as society changes. Thus, the internet and the rising technologies that surrounds it must play major roles in the pastoral work of the Church.

Msgr. Charles Pope recalled how just over 20 years ago he observed and celebrated a lot of more marriages and baptisms. These days, he says, the decline in marriage is very evident. In some of the smaller parishes there hasn’t been a wedding for several years. Even in the larger ones, as few as four or five a year isn’t uncommon. He discusses this downturn and prescribes a way we in the Church can turn back the tide.

From Sacramento, CA, Bishop Jaime Soto writes about about the ill effects of contraception on our modern culture. In a wide-ranging commentary he observes that artificial contraception has become “the unquestioned default mode of marriage,” with disastrous results for society.

Our Wandering Youth

Catholic parents who have seriously attempted to ground their children in the Church are often flummoxed on that (almost) inevitable day when the kids announce: “I am now very smart and have doubts about all of that.” Having been fed upon the rich wine of faith and reason, scripture, tradition, and culture, our kids often enter adulthood with a stated preference for water. When that happens, Elizabeth Scalia assures us, it is not time to fret. Have faith in all you have taught them; if you know how to look for it, your kids will demonstrate for you in no uncertain terms which lessons were well-learned, and which were not.

Still regarding our young, you've heard reports of numerous teens who have committed suicide as a result of one form of peer bullying or another. We all think we’d recognize a bully if we saw one, but much of what we know about social aggression among kids is wrong. Here are 'The Nine Most Common Myths About Bullying.' If you have children, it can be an eye-opening article for you.

Another eventful week in our Catholic World. Have a great and blessed new week.

Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief

BURNING QUESTION: What does "pray without ceasing" mean?
FEATURED BLOG: "When God says "No"
PASTORAL HISPANA: La oracion es la clave de nuestra felicidad

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