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Reflection:  Building on a Solid Foundation

A Solid Foundation
by Fred Schaeffer, ofs

 
God gives us His Gift of prayer because He loves us so very much. Prayer is communication with God, we can't adore Him enough, so prayer is the means to adore Him. Adoring Him in the Blessed Sacrament is also prayer, for the act of adoration is a silent conversation between the person and God. We do not know what takes place in each person's heart... we do not know what is his or her precise relationship with God. And we should not assume we know this.
 
I've often, in my reflections and essays, spoken about the need for a solid interior life. What is an interior life?  Well, it is simply the private relationship between God and a person. The value of the interior life is a great inner joy, and this sacred joy is a keystone of Franciscan Spirituality. St. Francis had no interest in the world with all its passing pleasures and lived totally "in touch" with Christ.

 

In order to pursue such an inner life of prayer, it is necessary to build a good foundation, otherwise the effort will soon collapse. A solid foundation can be exemplified as follows:

 

•A soul in the state of Grace.
•Frequent attendance and participation at Holy Mass with reception of Holy Communion.
•Daily prayer, at meals, and for Franciscans, the Liturgy of the Hours
•Making time for God in other ways, "breath prayers" as one is engaged in work that cannot be interrupted by more formal prayer.
•An ongoing conversation with Jesus.
•A true devotion to the Blessed Mother
•Asking the Saints and Blesseds to intercede for us.
•Monthly reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation†

 
This is not an inclusive list but it gives one an idea what a solid foundation might be. A person wishes to be close to God will find whatever is needed to firm up that foundation, through the love and inspiration of the Holy Spirit. If one is far away from a church and daily Mass attendance isn't possible, also for reasons of employment where the hours just are not conducive to going to church, that is understandable. Daily Mass is not required by the Church and thus it is optional. But attending Mass daily builds a strong foundation toward maintaining that inner life of prayer.
 
What's all this about detachment? As mentioned above, "St. Francis had no interest in the world with all its passing pleasures" - that's detachment. But it's more than that. Detachment is the realization that God is all in all, and compared to God, we're very little. And, thus, whatever we do, we should not pride ourselves on its outcome, because we did, indeed do, very little. God did it all! That attitude on our part is detachment. Detachment from riches is necessary to enter the Kingdom of heaven. When we pass away, we cannot take our riches with us. Likewise, to be open to
Prayer and build this solid foundation for a healthy prayer life, attachment to riches and other idols, isn't going to help at all.
 
If we stay close to God, practice what we preach, make that relationship with Our Lord stronger, and on that foundation build a more solid relationship with Him, and then when we pray, our prayer can bring world peace. Prayer motivates hearts - God's healing brings peace to one person, then two, then three, then a dozen, one hundred, etc. We become a cast of thousands for Jesus Christ as we, as Franciscans, go out there and be Christ to others.
 
Every house must have a solid foundation. A house built on a cliff, on pilings near the edge of a marsh, or along hillsides often do not have a dependable foundation, as we've seen during recent weather phenomena. Our relationship with God, with Jesus and with the help of the Holy Spirit, should also have a solid foundation, otherwise it will fall apart. To those who have a budding spiritual relationship, keep at it. Pray! Pray a lot, talk to Jesus about what you are doing, how much you love Him and give Him time to answer you. You will hear His voice through your soul, in your prayer life and through others. Over time, your inner life with Jesus will grow, and also, you'll find yourself asking his Mother, Mary for intercession for whatever intention that comes to mind. Intentions that aren't beneficial to you, or to others, generally don't get answered. Thank God for that! But when you pray for someone's welfare, for healing, for love...
those intentions are beneficial to the other person, so they may be healed or comforted.
 
Even though people insist that we are to immerse the person we are praying for in prayer, that really isn't necessary. Mention the person's intention to the Lord, maybe reflect on that intention during the day, then at Holy Mass ask God to heal all whom you've been asked to pray for. It is not necessary mention to God every detail. He knows all that. He knows everything about us, where it hurts and where it doesn't. Also, people send emails quoting verse after verse from Scripture, and somewhere in the middle of all that is buried a name, the name of the person to be prayed for...
 
I don't read all that - I simply pray that whoever needs prayer be healed mentally, physically and spiritually.
 
This is personal opinion - it just came to me recently - when we pray for healing of others, God often heals them spiritually, that is, He breaks up the hate people have for someone who may have done them wrong. God builds bridges (He's good at foundations, too), between the inner life of the soul and the ailing body. People do get healed but sometimes not the way we want. When we are asked to pray for someone with a life-threatening condition, large tumors, cancers, etc., sometimes a healing comes when the patient passes on - the healing is the transition to that life we're all hoping for, time eternal with Jesus Christ our Lord, in Heaven.
 
I pray for all who read these articles and who visit this website, even though I do not know anything about you. It doesn't matter what I know, what matters is that you know God, and He knows you.
 
May you always live in His shadow and never away from Him. Amen.
 
September 19, 2008
 
† About the Sacrament of Reconciliation - at this time when so many people somehow confuse the differences between good and evil, this Sacrament is so important. Secular Franciscans, please see Article 13 of the OFS General Constitutions, that states we are expected to go to confession frequently. That's good advise for everyone, but especially for those who desire to pursue a close relationship with God.
 
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