The Precedence of Prayer

LENTEN RETREAT
Day 29

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EVERYTHING we’ve discussed so far in this Lenten Retreat is equipping you and me to soar toward the heights of sanctity and union with God (and remember, with Him, all things are possible). And yet—and this is of utmost importance—without prayer, it would be like someone who has laid out a hot air balloon upon the ground and set up all their equipment. The pilot tries to climb into the gondola, which is the will of God. He is familiar with his flying manuals, which are the Scriptures and the Catechism. His basket is tethered to the balloon by the ropes of the Sacraments. And last, he has stretched out his balloon along the ground—that is, he has conceded a certain willingness, abandonment, and desire to fly toward Heaven…. But so long as the burner of prayer remains unlit, the balloon—which is his heart—will never expand, and his spiritual life will remain grounded.

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The Goal of Prayer

LENTEN RETREAT
Day 31

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I have to laugh, because I am the last person I would have ever imagined to be speaking about prayer. Growing up, I was hyper, constantly moving, always ready to play. I had a hard time sitting still at Mass. And books, to me, were a waste of good playtime. So, by the time I graduated from high school, I had probably read less than ten books in my whole life. And while I did read my Bible, the prospect of sitting down and praying for any length of time was challenging, to say the least.

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Praying Heavenward

LENTEN RETREAT
Day 32

Sunset Hot Air Balloon2

 

THE beginning of prayer is desire, desire to love God, who has loved us first. Desire is the “pilot light” which keeps the burner of prayer lit, always ready to mingle with the “propane” of the Holy Spirit. He is the one who then ignites, animates, and fills our hearts with grace, enabling us to begin the ascent, along the Way of Jesus, to union with the Father. (And by the way, when I say “union with God”, what I mean is a real and actual union of wills, desires, and love such that God lives totally and freely in you, and you in Him). And so, if you have stayed with me this long in this Lenten Retreat, I have no doubt that the pilot light of your heart is lit and ready to burst into flame!

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Soaring in the Spirit

LENTEN RETREAT
Day 33

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THOMAS Merton once said, “There are a thousand ways to the Way.” But there are some foundational principles when it comes to the structure of our prayer-time that can help us advance more quickly toward communion with God, especially in our weakness and struggles with distraction.

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The Second Burner

LENTEN RETREAT
Day 34

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NOW here is the thing, my dear brothers and sisters: the interior life, like a hot air balloon, has not one, but two burners. Our Lord was very clear about this when He said:

You shall love the Lord your God…[and]  You shall love your neighbor as yourself. (Mark 12:33)

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On Time and Distractions

LENTEN RETREAT
Day 35

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OF course, one of the great obstacles and seeming tensions between one’s interior life and the exterior demands of one’s vocation, is time. “I don’t have time to pray! I’m a mother! I don’t have time! I work all day! I’m a student! I travel! I run a company! I’m a priest with a big parish… I don’t have time!

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Untethering the Heart

LENTEN RETREAT
 Day 36

tethered3

 

THE “hot air balloon” represents one’s heart; the “gondola basket” is the will of God; the “propane” is the Holy Spirit; and the two “burners” of love of God and neighbour, when lit by the “pilot light” of our desire, fill our hearts with the Flame of Love, enabling us to soar toward union with God. Or so it would seem. What is it that is still holding me back…?

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