Struggling to Pray

By Fr. Joseph Rinaldo, SdC

A good friend, who also is a good father, husband and benefactor, came to visit for the usual Christmas wishes. He asked me what I was reading. I told him I was trying to read the letters of St. Paul, taking up the theme of prayer in his letters. He was in a talking mood and continued saying that he loved the Jubilee Year of Mercy for its themes of fasting and almsgiving. However, he added that he had difficulties with prayer. “The Hail Marys and Our Fathers have become meaningless. Mass, including the homily, is boring. I keep hearing that we need to pray more, but I fail to pray.”
We all are struggling to pray until we learn what prayer really is. We need to reflect on the essential role of the Holy Spirit for those who wish to communicate with God.
Prayer is not a fruit of human effort, but a gift, the fruit of the living, vivifying presence of the Father of Jesus Christ in us. We, the believers, have the human desire for prayer. We want to pray, but God is far off, we do not have the words, the language, to speak with God, nor even the thought to do so. We can only open ourselves, place our time at God’s disposal; wait for Him to help us to enter into true dialogue. St. Paul says: this very lack of words, this absence of words, yet this desire to enter into contact with God, is prayer that the Holy Spirit not only understands, but brings and interprets before God. This very weakness of ours, through the Holy Spirit, becomes true prayer, true contact with God. The Holy Spirit is the interpreter who makes us, and God, understand what it is we wish to say. Prayer brings us to understand that we are weak, poor creatures. And the more we advance in listening and in dialogue with God, the more we also perceive the measure of our limitations, not only in the face of the concrete situations of everyday life, but also in our relationship with the Lord.
It is the Holy Spirit who helps our inability, who enlightens our minds and warms our hearts, guiding us as we turn to God. Prayer is above all the work of the Holy Spirit in our humanity. He takes our weakness and transforms us from men bound to material realities into spiritual men, when we allow the Spirit of Christ, and not the spirit of the world, to work in us as the interior principle of all our actions.

From the blog of Fr. Ed Broom, OMV (http://bit.ly/2iF2gxP)

Prayer animated by the Spirit enables us to abandon and to overcome every form of fear and slavery, and so to experience the true freedom of the children of God.
We then come to understand that, through prayer, we are not delivered from trials or sufferings, but we are able to live them in union with Christ, with His sufferings, and participating also in His glory. Prayer, sustained by the Spirit of Christ who speaks in our interior depths, never remains closed in upon itself, it is never only prayer for me; rather, it opens out to a sharing in the suffering of our time, of others. It becomes intercession for others, and thus freedom for me; a channel of hope for all creation and the expression of that love of God, which has been poured into our hearts through the Spirit who has been given to us. And this is a sign of true prayer, that it does not end in ourselves, but opens out to others and so liberates me, and so helps in the redemption of the world.
Dear confreres, we have a treasure in our faith and in our heart: the power of prayer. We need to enter in communion with the Holy Spirit and He will teach us how to love Jesus the Redeemer and the Holy Spirit the Sanctifier. I wish all of you a Happy New Year, a year when, accompanied by the Spirit we can discover what an incredible treasure the power of the Spirit is in our souls, our Order and all believers.

Third Provincial Chapter of the DPP

Bangalore – The Third Provincial Chapter of the Divine Providence Province was not only a time of meetings, work groups and discussions, it was a time for confreres to grow in a ‘bond of charity’ and with a sense of belonging and direction for the future of the Province. The meetings, scheduled for January 12-17th, were opened, in the evening of January 12th, by Fr. Soosai Rathinam, Provincial Superior, invoking the Holy Spirit and His Seven Gifts and the singing of the Veni Creator Spiritus and the second year novices of the Daughters of St. Mary of Providence (DSMP) performed a native dance. His opening address, in which he welcomed the assembly in five languages, reminded everyone of the many blessings for us in the beginning of this New Year of 2015, including the Provincial chapter itself and the Year for Consecrated Life. He welcomed Fr. Gustavo De Bonis, the chapter assembly, the DSMP’s, who hosted the event, and the 4th Year Theologians who were assisting during the chapter. After this opening of the Chapter, the officers were elected as moderators, secretaries and tellers. The real work of the chapter was ready to begin.
For the following five days, the assembly members heard and discussed the Provincial’s report, the financial reports and engaged in group work. The real focus was important day-to-day issues affecting the province and the confreres: Vocation Promotion/Formation, Community Life, Mission as well as the theme of the chapter in the aspects of the Bond of Charity, Sense of Belonging and Fraternal Correction. Through the group work, their subsequent reports and assembly discussions some concrete motions and proposals were drafted on the topics.
Another task of the assembly was to go over the draft statutes of the province and to make any necessary changes to duties or guidelines. Once this full document was reviewed and updated, the changes were adopted by the assembly. The fruit of the group work was given over to a small team to develop a draft of motions and proposals for the chapter and these were reviewed and edited by the assembly. The final day of the Chapter was a day for any final edits and voting on the motions and proposals and the assembly adopted thirty-five (35) motions and proposals that have been submitted to the General Council. During closing remarks, Fr. Soosai expressed his gratitude for all the work that had been accomplished and for the ‘renewal of prayer and the bond of charity’ and then the Provincial Superior celebrated a closing Eucharistic Liturgy.
Though a great portion of the Provincial Chapter meant a lot of hard work and thought, the confreres were also blessed with moments of beauty, song, dance, prayer and fraternal solidarity and left with the feeling that the blessings Fr. Rathinam spoke of were added to through the fruits of the celebration of this Third Divine Providence Provincial Chapter.

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