The Prayer Sprinter – Good News for February 23

23 02 2010

Matthew 6:7-15

Jesus said to his disciples, “In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

“This is how you are 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; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

“If you forgive men their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.”

The Daily Path: Growing up Catholic and attending parochial school left me with some lasting perspectives. Broadway comedies have made a fortune recounting similar perspectives from a period when the system created “good little Catholics” by the thousands. The system had a lot of flaws and those days still bring a chuckle, or ten. They also provide common ground for conversation with many who left the Church but now, later in life, find themselves back on the spiritual journey. In these conversations I often find the question being asked most often is: “What were they thinking?”

I’ll share some of my memories of GUC (growing up Catholic) over time. Perhaps these reflections will provide travelers with food for thought as they pause here at the on-line rest stop. One of my GUC experiences related to prayer…

The good sisters would provide us with ample opportunities to memorize all the formal prayers that were part of being Catholic. We would repeat these words time and again during many hours engaged in “solemn prayer” activities. During my training in the art of prayer, I became highly proficient at sprint praying, a skill I found very useful for enduring the rigors of being a kid in a very Catholic sphere.

When I’d go to confession (to have the truly heinous sins of an eight-year old forgiven) the priest would tell me to say five “Our Fathers” and five “Hail Mary’s” for my penance. Once that gun sounded I was off to the finish line saying the words as fast as humanly possible. I was a world class pray-er in this regard. I never really stopped pumping my arms and legs long enough to listen to the sounds coming out of my mouth or understand what was blasting down the linear excelerator of my mind. Praying the “Our Father” became the binaural beat of a mantra taking me around the track to Olympic gold! Get it done, climb the podium, and get on with living.

A great number of Olympiads have come and gone since my days as a prayer sprinter. I’ve evolved into more of a long distance runner. Now I try to embrace every word slowly and carefully. I want to “hear” the words in my heart. Once they are inside, I want their meaning to linger. Sometimes I change the words of formal prayers, like the Lord’s Prayer, that were committed to my young sprinter memory decades ago. In doing so I feel the conversation moving out of my head and into my heart where I know God will hear.

Good News for the End of 2008

31 12 2008

John 2:18-29

Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that the antichrist was coming, so now many antichrists have appeared. Thus we know this is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not really of our number; if they had been, they would have remained with us. Their desertion shows that none of them was of our number. But you have the anointing that comes from the Holy One, and you all have knowledge. I write to you not because you do not know the truth but because you do, and because every lie is alien to the truth.

Who is the liar? Whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Whoever denies the Father and the Son, this is the antichrist. No one who denies the Son has the Father, but whoever confesses the Son has the Father as well. Let what you heard in the beginning remain in you. If what you heard from the beginning remains in you, then you will remain in the Son and the Father. And this is the promise that he made to us: eternal life.

I write you these things about those who would deceive you. As for you, the anointing that you received from him remains in you, so that you do not need anyone to teach you. But this anointing teaches you about everything and is true and not false; just as it taught you, remain in him.

And now children, remain in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not be put to shame by him at the coming. if you consider that he is righteous, you also know that everyone who acts in righteousness is begotten by him.

The Daily Path: As the final minutes of 2008 tick down, I reflect back on all that has happened this year.

On Easter Sunday I felt God’s voice calling me home and was inspired to once again practice my Catholic faith. Since that day I can honestly say that I have experienced the greatest joy even though the year has brought previously unkown hardships. God’s love and mercy have been evident everywhere. We’ve been blessed by another child due in March. Family and friends have rallied around with unimaginable generosity to help us weather the storm. Most importantly, God is holding his arms open to embrace my wife and children. There will be three baptisms in February and hopefully three more to follow. 

As I close out Good News To-Go! for this year, I pray that God will continue to touch each of you as He has “from the beginning” and that you will “remain in him”  by opening your mind and heart to His love. The little boy who wore a green parochial school sweater for so many years finally came home in 2008. Will you join me? Just give God a chance. What do you have to lose? 

My friends, may the peace and love of Christ be with you in 2009.