Monday, April 4, 2011

Pope: The whole of our salvation rests on prayer

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 30, 2011 ( Benedict XVI is reminding the faithful of the need for prayer, citing the teaching of an 18th century doctor of the Church who particularly encouraged visits to the Blessed Sacrament.The Pope dedicated his reflection at today's general audience to St. Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787).

The saint was gifted with an exceptional intellect -- completing studies in canon and civil law by age 16 -- but also "a way of acting marked by gentle and meek goodness, which was born from his intense relationship with God, who is infinite Goodness."  [wow!  kids nowadays would have a closer relationship with their gadgets rather than Him!]

The Holy Father recalled how Alphonsus "insisted a lot on the need for prayer" as a condition for doing God's will and achieving holiness.

He cited the priest, who wrote, "God does not deny to anyone the grace of prayer, with which one obtains the help to overcome every concupiscence and every temptation. And I say, and repeat and will always repeat, for my entire life, that the whole of our salvation rests on prayer." [Remember the Gospel passage about the persistent widow and the judge in Luke?  That is how we sound and look like when we pray the Rosary and as Cardinal Sin once said "Storm Heaven with our prayers."  Persistence pays folks.  You do not get what you want just by saying that you paid your tithes and you belong to the One True Church from the Far East!  Oh...]

"Outstanding among the forms of prayer fervently recommended by St. Alphonsus is the visit to the Most Blessed Sacrament or, as we would say today, adoration -- brief or prolonged, personal or in community -- of the Eucharist," the Pope added. "'Certainly,' wrote Alphonsus, 'among all the devotions this one of adoration of the sacramental Jesus is the first after the sacraments, the dearest to God and the most useful to us. O, what a beautiful delight to be before an altar with faith and to present to him our needs, as a friend does to another friend with whom one has full confidence!'"

Benedict XVI recounted how Alphonsus had a very successful ministry among the poor of Naples, some of whom "often were dedicated to vices and carried out criminal activity."

He explained, "With patience he taught them to pray, encouraging them to improve their way of living. Alphonsus obtained great results: In the poorest quarters of the city, there were increasing groups of persons who gathered in the evening in private homes and shops, to pray and meditate on the Word of God, under the guidance of some catechists formed by Alphonsus and other priests, who regularly visited these groups of faithful. [...] [These meetings] were a real and proper source of moral education, of social healing, of reciprocal help among the poor: thefts, duels and prostitution virtually disappeared." [This is the right way to do prayer meetings!  With priests around who taught the Word of God.  Not the kind we see in BECs, BCCs, GKKs, Kapitbahayan...and all that jazz...where any Tom, Dick and Jane stands up and 'shares' his reflection on the Readings and sounds like he is doing a theological treatise.  Dangerous, folks!  That is how some Catholics I knew, drew away from the Faith and became Evangelicals.]

The Pontiff proposed that such meetings could be "a model of missionary action in which we can be inspired today as well, for a 'new evangelization,' particularly among the poorest." [I know some missionaries whose form of "evangelization" is to go on house visits and talk about...the latest episode of their favorite telenovela aka soap opera or have a toast with the boys.  Yup.  Evangelization does not involve the Gospel.  It is "just being with the poor".  Just being.  No Gospel.  Yup.  No joke.]

The Bishop of Rome concluded by emphasizing how Alphonsus taught that holiness is meant for everyone: "The religious as religious, the lay person as lay person, the priest as priest, the married as married, the merchant as merchant, the soldier as soldier, and so on."  [Like how St. Francis de Sales and St. Josemaria Escriva taught it!]

The Pope affirmed his gratitude to God, who "raises saints and doctors in different times and places who, speaking the same language, invite us to grow in faith and to live with love and joy our being Christians in the simple actions of every day, to walk on the path of holiness, on the path to God and to true joy."


One liturgist, who teaches liturgy at MST, told me once that the need to have the tabernacle put to the side, and any place else, like a separate chapel, other than the center of the sanctuary or on the Main Altar, is for the people not to be confused and the priest not to be turning his back of the Lord Who is in the Tabernacle.


And...he continued, (yup, he was not yet done.) to foster more devotion to the Eucharist so that the focus of the people during Mass is the sacred action being done on the Altar and that the people would not focus their attention on the Tabernacle.


Quite frankly, judging by how this priest/liturgist lives his life...and how I do not even see him visit the Adoration Chapel or spend more time in the private chapel in the Rectory....uhm...



Here are some beautiful quotes about the Eucharist from Blessed Teresa of Calcutta:

“It was not until 1973, when we began our daily Holy Hour that our community started to grow and blossom... In our congregation, we used to have adoration once a week for one hour, and then in 1973, we decided to have adoration one hour every day.  We have much work to do.  Our homes for the sick and dying destitute are full everywhere.  And from the time we started having adoration every day, our love for Jesus became more intimate, our love for each other more understanding, our love for the poor more compassionate, and we have double the number of vocations.  God has blessed us with many wonderful vocations. The time we spend in having our daily audience with God is the most precious part of the whole day.”

“When you look at the crucifix, you understand how much Jesus loved you. When you look at the Sacred Host you understand how much Jesus loves you now. This is why you should ask your parish priest to have Perpetual Adoration in your parish. I beg the Blessed Mother to touch the hearts of all parish priests that they may have Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration in their parishes, and that it may spread throughout the entire world.

“The time you spend with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is the best time you will spend on earth. Each moment that you spend with Jesus will deepen your union with Him and make your soul everlastingly more glorious and beautiful in Heaven, and will help bring about everlasting peace on earth."

Now those are nice thoughts to end the post.

1 comment:

  1. A Catholic prayer meeting should be always rooted in the liturgy. In the Anglican Use our prayer meeting centers on the Divine Office, after which we have our sharing over coffee and more traditional, sherry!

    We Catholics are a liturgical people!