Oblate Program at Belmont Abbey, NC

Five Ways to Pray Always: Part 1, Introduction

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bible_webIt is the custom of the Monastery to select a book to be read during Lent and discuss it as a community. Since this would be difficult for the Oblates to accomplish, perhaps we can read an article together during Lent? For each of the five weeks of Lent we will publish one part of an article that was published in St. Anthony's Messenger in 1996 call "Five Ways to Pray Always." It was written by Fr. Brian Pierce, OP and should be read slowly. So let's take this one paragraph at a time.

A new paragraph will be published each week on  Sunday. After Lent it will be kept here on the web site for further reflection and reference. They are being published to the web in this manner for two reasons. The first is so you concentrate on one facet of prayer each week, to take it in and then move on to the next section. The second is that not everyone wants to read the whole article at once and, past history shows, they are more inclined to read the article in more "bite-size" sections. For legal purposes the credits will be placed at the bottom of each section.

Introduction

Years ago, when I was a novice, one of my Dominican brothers suggested one day that we pack a picnic lunch and spend our free day enjoying the autumn colors in the mountains of North Carolina. It sounded like a great idea, and an hour later we were in the car heading north from our home in Columbia, South Carolina, enjoying the sense of "fall freedom."

We drove frantically for several hours, stopped at a national forest, got out and ate our lunch, and sped home in time for evening prayer! I was so dizzy during prayer that I could hardly focus on the psalms. In fact, now that I look back, I ask myself if perhaps we didn't miss the real prayer--the chance to praise God for the wonders of creation-in order to fulfill an obligation. I think I know the answer.

How do we pray in a world that seems to be moving in fast-forward? How do we grow in the contemplative dimension of our Christian life in a culture in which the only public service that hasn't installed a drive-through window--at least not yet--is the Church?

We've become accustomed to a quick fix for losing weight and a quick method for learning French. The oil in our car is changed in 10 minutes and our photos are developed while we wait. And yet we open the Bible and read that the Kingdom of God is like a woman who kneads the yeast into the dough and waits for it to rise, or like the farmer who sows the seed and patiently awaits the harvest.

The 40 days of Lent used to seem like a natural part of our Catholic life in the past, but now 40 days might seem like a bit much. Some may think: Why not cut it back to 20 days? God just doesn't seem to fit into our fast-food world today.

No matter how we cut it, though, Israel's 40 years in the desert and Jesus' 40 days of struggling to be faithful to the Father's call cannot be cut in half for good behavior. The number 40 for the Hebrews was a way of saying "many." In other words, the spiritual life isn't a weekend affair; it's a lifelong commitment. The living water of faith cannot be boiled in a microwave. Following Jesus means pacing ourselves to the rhythm of a lifetime of contemplative discipleship.

[click here to read the next section]

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brian_pierceop_webBrian J. Pierce, O.P., is a Dominican priest and member of a community of Dominican preachers in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. The community works in the training of lay Delegates of the Word and university students, as well as in the care of persons with AIDS.

"Reprinted from' Five Ways to Pray', St. Anthony Messenger, copyright 2008. Used by permission of St. Anthony Messenger Press, 28 W. Liberty St., Cincinnati, OH 45202; 800-488-0488. All rights reserved."

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2 Responses »

  1. This will prove to be an interesting and reflective exercise.
    Perfect and timely for the season.

  2. Thank you for this lovely series "Five Ways to Pray Always."