Friday, February 19, 2016

The Power of Prayer

SECOND SUNDAY OF LENT (C)
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The Transfiguration of the Lord
We were blessed this past week to be visited by two sisters from the Dominicans of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist.  Sister Joseph Andrew, their vocations director, had many good things to say, but the thing she stressed most emphatically was the importance of prayer.

A student asked the question, "What if we choose the wrong vocation?"  To which Sister replied, "That's only possible if you are not praying about it.  If you really pray about your vocation, it's impossible to choose wrong."

Then Sister told of her own discernment process.  She spoke about how from a young age she had a desire to find out what God wanted her to do with her life, and then to do it!  So she prayed about it every day.  How often and how fervently have you prayed that God might show you your purpose in life?

Prayer is one of the three activities that the Church especially highlights during the season of Lent (along with fasting and almsgiving).  This is not because prayer is a particularly "Lenten" thing to do but because it is so fundamentally necessary to our lives as Christians.

As Jesus shows us in this Sunday's gospel, we discover who we truly are only through prayer.  It was while Jesus was praying that "His face changed in appearance and His clothing became dazzlingly white" (Lk 9:29). While praying, Moses and Elijah appear with Jesus and "spoke of His exodus that He was going to accomplish in Jerusalem" (Lk 9:31) -- in other words, His passion, death and resurrection.  It is in prayer that Jesus shows His true face.  It is in prayer that Jesus' mission is revealed.

So it is with us.  It is only in prayer that we will discover the person God intends for us to be, and we will then know our mission in life.  This is because it is by prayer that we come to know God and learn to recognize the image of God in us.

But we should not expect to find a neon sign pointing our brightly the direction that we are to go.  God is not that obvious.  Discovering our vocation (and thereby discovering ourselves) is a process that requires trust in God's divine providence.  In our first reading, Abram was promised by God that his descendants would be given the land of Israel (Gn 15:17-18).  But Abram (later Abraham) had to wait decades before that promise was fulfilled.  Meanwhile he trusted in God.

That trust can be one of the most difficult aspects of our relationship with God to achieve -- but it can be achieved through prayer.  Prayer is the way that we grow in our relationship with God.  It is very hard to trust someone that you do not have a good relationship with.  By persisting in prayer, and seeking to do God's will, you will come to know Him intimately.

One other thing that Sister Joseph Andrew mentioned was how those who discover and live out their vocation are free of fear.  She recalled one of her favorite saints, St. John Paul the Great, saying, "Be not afraid!"  Jesus said those same words, as did the angel Gabriel to Mary.  Our psalm says, "The Lord is my life’s refuge;of whom should I be afraid?" (Ps 27:1).  When you have come to trust deeply in God's providence for you -- when you can truly say that He is your life's refuge -- then you will have no reason to fear anyone or anything.  You will know only His peace.

Persist in prayer.  Make it a habit.  Make it something you cannot get through your day without.  Ask God to show you your vocation in life and then pursue it fearlessly.  This is how you discover your true self.  This is how you become a saint.


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