Sunday, July 28, 2013

Prayer: Expressing an Inner Desire to Receive Help

Readings for the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time:

17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

By Deacon Lawrence N. Kaas
July 28, 2013

I would like to share with you today what I would consider three points of interest, all in one way or another dealing with prayer.

The first bit of interest is that of the Holy Father in Brazil. He did not go there only just to schmooze with the kids, although it is obvious that this is very important for him, he nevertheless comes to Brazil in order to pray not only with the young people but with all the people of the region.

So this last Wednesday we find him at a shrine to our Lady called our Lady of Aparecida, for there he wanted to pray. It was important for Francis to add this day and this visit as a time of prayer to our Lady. Who by the way he calls, Mom.

This statue of the Virgin Mary is about 40 cm tall and is black. Partly I suppose because it was found in the river of Paraiba in three pieces. Tradition says that this statue, being black, means it wants to be close to the oppressed and the fact that it was found in pieces symbolizes the broken lives of slaves.

Francis knows full well the power of prayer even spending time in prayer with Pope Benedict, emeritus before going to Brazil. The most important part of Francis's mission is to pray the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass not only for the youth but for the world at large. Much more of this story is available to you on Internet and I would encourage you to look it up and read it so that you too may share the vision of Pope Francis.

Secondly I want to share with you a little bit of the trip that father Statz and I took now just a little over a week ago; and that was to the Shrine of our Lady of Guadalupe, La Cross, Wisconsin, at a workshop sponsored, by Queen of the Americas Guild. This retreat workshop concerned art and architecture that you all may, well know, father and I are both highly interested. The title of the workshop worshiping God through art and architecture is expressed in the words of St. Juan Diego, "I want very much they build my sacred little house here."

This shrine to our Lady is a recently built shrine that expresses what can be done for the love of Jesus through Mary. You walk up a trail of little more than a half-mile long to one of the most beautiful churches built in our time. The trail reminds you that you are on a journey and that journey is to give praise and honor to our Lady under the title of our Lady of Guadalupe. Walking into that church leaves one's jaw hanging down. Then to see the artwork along each long axis of the church likewise is so stunning that words cannot describe and furthermore maybe the lack of words is prayer itself. And wouldn't you know the first very large painting on the left-hand wall as you come into the church is the most beautiful painting of Divine Mercy and St. Faustina. I stood there in awe, really not even able to pray: not only because of its beauty but what it represents in the life of the Church in our world today. Sometimes words are not adequate in prayer so finally we must allow our heart to speak.

And we find that we are to celebrate Mass with Cardinal Burke and father is to concelebrate. Father wants me to come with him to be Deacon of the Mass and I don't want to. Why is a good question. Maybe I just didn't feel adequate enough. But nevertheless that finally is what happens so twice I am the Deacon of the Mass for Cardinal Burke, a very kind and gentle man, called the patron of this shrine of our Lady of Guadalupe. I really didn't get into trouble, however Bishop Madera informed me that I was not incensing correctly. You don't incense down here he said but up here, and I said, okay, I can do that, so the next time you see me incense it will be done correctly by the directions of Bishop Madera. Another point of interest for you might be that maybe you should think twice about complaining when father uses incense because the Cardinal knows how to use incense. He not only had a little spoon to fill the sensor, but a scope, and I mean he scooped it in. Advice to me was maybe you have to hold your breath a little bit once in awhile. I say this looking at you, maybe you need to bring a gas mask or a fluffy handkerchief, than having to hold your breath. All for the praise and glory of God in prayer. For incense rising is a symbol of our prayers rising to heaven.

One other brief point, was a very old Monsignor. who looked to be 110 going on a 120. I looked at him and he so much looked like father Harden, who I knew as our retreat master that I said to him you look very much like father Harden, he said, he's my brother. Small world.

Many homilies could be preached on the words of the our father, as found in the Gospel for today, but I want to draw your attention to the opening words, Our Father, because in these two simple words, is what a little Jewish boy would express as he calls out Abba. With much love, petition and fear of loss. To find and hold onto the father is an answer to all of our prayers. Father, I love you I worship you and give you all Honor and Glory. In finding You the desires of an earthly life are fulfilled, in the heavenly life we will find Eternal Life, to Know You to Love You to Serve You is life itself.

A closing thought: there are many bold claims made for prayer. Some bumper stickers even read: "prayer changes things." Of course, then you and I might ask, what does prayer change? I think we will find that more often than not we will find that things do not change so much around us, as changes are made with in us. Prayer certainly gives us a new perspective on things. Prayer gives us a new power over circumstances. Prayer changes more things than we will ever know!

Each time that we pray, whether we pray, Our Father, Hail Mary, Jesus I trust in you, we express an inner desire to receive the help we need to live a Good Holy life and that we may spend Eternity with You in Heaven.

So you all be good, be Holy, preached the Gospel always, and if necessary use words!

'Thank you' to Deacon Kaas, for letting me post his reflection here.

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