From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
2566. Man is in search of God. In the act of creation, God calls every being from nothingness into existence. "Crowned with glory and honor," man is, after the angels, capable of acknowledging "how majestic is the name of the Lord in all the earth." Even after losing through his sin his likeness to God, man remains an image of his Creator, and retains the desire for the one who calls him into existence. All religions bear witness to men's essential search for God.
2567. God calls man first. Man may forget his Creator or hide far from his face; he may run after idols or accuse the deity of having abandoned him; yet the living and true God tirelessly calls each person to that mysterious encounter known as prayer. In prayer, the faithful God's initiative of love always comes first; our own first step is always a response. As God gradually reveals himself and reveals man to himself, prayer appears as a reciprocal call, a covenant drama. Through words and actions, this drama engages the heart. It unfolds throughout the whole history of salvation.
"God calls man first!" Thereby, God gives us His greatest gift, prayer! He teaches us how to talk to him! And we are eager to reply in prayer. We each communicate with God in our own way. It is not always the most common way, but it is the only way that works for us! Some people say little prayers out of a book, others pray aloud, some people sing to the Lord, knowing that singing is twice praying. Many people communicate with God, with Jesus, through the Virgin Mary, the mother of God, through the Holy Rosary, or, through Saints. Franciscans pray the Franciscan Crown of seven decades. Many people, non-Christians, pray the beads, turn to the East to pray. Various religions have often different methods of prayer. The man and woman plowing the field just stop for a minute, elevate their heads to the sky and thank our Lord for the abundance of His Bounty. Those who love God all pray - they all reciprocate God's infinite love in the best way they know how.
People who need God's help, pray a lot more. Do not worry whether prayers are answered, that's not important. You are praying because you love God and when we love someone, we gaze on Him lovingly, even within ourselves, and unwittingly see if others share our love for Him. We begin to pray for those who do not love Him, so that they also may benefit by their newfound friendship. All people are our brothers and sisters. That is because Jesus is our brother, too.
Jesus said, "Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again, (amen,) I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." (Mt. 18:18-20). Again, we have his promise that he is praying right along with us! God wants to help us. We need but ask.
People who need help immediately (e.g. homeless as a result of hurricanes or floodwaters) can ask God to hurry up. God listens. He sends friends, neighbors, good Samaritans, to give a helping hand. He sends doctors and nurses, too. Doing good to others, by means of giving, be it for a birthday, anniversary, party - bringing people some fruit, a house-warming gift, your companionship - these are all outcomes of prayer, of asking God for guidance and inspiration. Flying the helicopter to rescue those stranded on a rooftop is an answer to prayer, too. Thank the Lord, for His great gift.
The more God calls us to a conversation with him, the more we feel the inner desire to be with Him, to let our minds seek Him in prayer and in silent adoration. He brings us ever closer to himself, through the Will of the Father, through his brotherly love, and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit, advocate and guide, brings into us an understanding of these great gifts and of God's inestimable love for us.
So inspired, we begin or continue to seek Him out in prayer, in actions. Our demeanor changes, our face relaxes, we become kinder to others, more patient, more helpful. As I recognize these stages of spiritual development in myself over many years, I also recognize an ongoing desire to help other people. This help, requested or unsolicited, is the result of Our Lord pointing out the need to help other people. But being of limited means, this help is almost always in prayer. Praying for people costs very little. The effort it costs is often negligible, the time it takes is small, the love it takes is God's gift to us. Use it well. Do not let it sit unused. His love brings us to action, His love is always there. Love is like a flower. When it blooms it is at its peak.
When we pray for others, it is not necessary to spend hours and hours on our knees. Jesus told us very succinctly how to pray. When he took our shape and form, 2000 years ago, became a human person with the sole purpose to give us the love of the Father by redeeming our sins through His death and resurrection, He told us to pray: "Our Father, who art in Heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name, Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.
Jesus taught us that beautiful prayer personally. You will find it in Holy Scripture, in Matthew, 6:9-13; and verse 14 and 15 are also important: "If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions." What better prayer is there than the one given us by Jesus Christ himself? So, let us pray to Him often, to adore Him, to show us our love for Him.
May the Lord bless you and keep you!
Fred Schaeffer, OFS
April 15, 2018
Secular Franciscan Order
Ordo Franciscanus Sæcularis
Divine Mercy Fraternity
Vero Beach, FL
Term expires: 2/10/2022
Fred Schaeffer, OFS
Helen Caldarone, OFS
Mary "Jean" McGovern, OFS
Jack Reddy, OFS
Donna Haro, OFS
Joanne Giordano, OFS
Fred Schaeffer, OFS
Five Franciscan Martyrs