Catholic Prayers for the New Evangelization

"Catholic Prayers for the New Evangelization"

Check out the revised edition of this exciting and unique prayer book, filled with prayers that are sure to nourish the soul as we undertake the New Evangelization.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Homily Gaudete Sunday 14 December 2008

About half-way through my seminary studies,
I had the opportunity to spend a week of retreat at Saint Michael’s Abbey
an abbey of Norbertine fathers and brothers in Orange County, CA.

While I was there, I experienced the schedule of the Norbertine canons,
including going to bed at 9:00 pm and rising at 5:00 am for prayer.

Given that I am not naturally a morning person, it was surely penitential!

At the same time it was a beautiful experience
of entering – briefly – into the hidden life of religious priests and brothers
where prayer is a constant routine which gives meaning to their lives.

At every hour of every day…somewhere in the world…priests, brothers and nuns
are praying the prayer of the Church called the “Liturgy of the Hours.”
Religious men and women pray according to an established schedule –
in the morning, the daytime, the evening, and at night –
in order to sanctify the hours of the day by their offering of prayer
and so that there arises before the throne of God
a continual sacrifice of praise, pleasing to the Lord.

Even here in Canton, Ohio, we are blessed to have Sancta Clara Monastery,
where the Poor Clare Sisters spend their days offering prayers
for the intentions of the Church,
for our community, and for people throughout the world.
Diocesan priests pray the same prayers,
but not at such strict times and not so early in the morning!

I once saw a prayer book that contained a one-dimensional map of the globe,
complete with the time zones,
and a listing of selected cities where Mass is celebrated at each hour.

It was a reminder of the beauty and constancy of the Eucharist:
at every hour of every day, somewhere there is a priest celebrating Mass.
that Jesus is always present to His people as they gather at the holy altar.

According to the third Eucharistic Prayer:
“Father…From generation to generation, you gather a people to yourself,
so that from the rising of the sun to its setting
a perfect offering may be made to the glory of your name.”

The Church indeed follows faithfully the exhortation of Saint Paul
to “pray without ceasing.”

We rejoice heartily in the abundance of graces that flow from the Church’s prayer
and in all things we give thanks, for this is the will of God.

The Liturgy of the Hours is not only for clergy and religious,
but is truly available to all people in the Church.
I hope you will join us Sunday evening at 4:00 as we pray Vespers together.

Saint Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians is filled with hope and encouragement
for the new, young church community at Thessalonica.

Paul is reminding the recent converts of the abundance of gifts
they have received from the hand of the Lord, as the members of His body.
He is exhorting them to appreciate what they have,
to give thanks in everything, to pray without ceasing,
and to live to the fullest extent their new life as baptized Christians.

Christian discipleship involves looking forward
to the fulfillment of God’s plan of salvation…the coming of the Lord in glory…
and living in constant readiness for his appearance.

Celebrating Advent…indeed the whole reality of being Christian…
is not an idle waiting
but an experience of living in hope of the coming of the Lord
and doing our part to make Christ's kingdom come alive in our world…
here and now…in every aspect of our human existence.

Christian believers are people of hope, and, as Pope Benedict has written,
people of hope live differently!

Absolutely essential to fulfilling the Christian life
is the call to pray without ceasing.
If we are to participate in the Church’s mission
to bring Jesus into every heart and every human endeavor,
then we, too, must sanctify the hours of every day with our prayers.
Prayer is most fundamentally a conversation with God,
wherein we share with Him our thoughts and cares,
and, more importantly, listen intently to His voice.

We need this constant conversation with God,
that we might come to know His will, experience the strength of His grace,
and be led by Him on our journey of faith.

Liturgy is the public prayer of the Church,
celebrated by the whole community,
according to established norms and traditions.

Prayer also takes the form of devotions:
the Rosary, Chaplet of Divine Mercy, Novenas, Stations of the Cross…

Reading sacred scripture or the writings of the saints
is also an experience of praying, for God’s Word is revealed in sacred texts.

Prayer does not have to include written or spoken words,
and often the most beautiful prayer
is the quiet moments we spend with the Lord…
before the Tabernacle or in a special place at home.

However you pray, what is most important
is setting aside substantial time each day for the Lord
to praise God every morning and thank Him every night.

If you were to give your family no other gift this Christmas
than to lead them in daily prayers
your gift would surpass our human capacity to measure.

In prayer we hear God’s voice, calling us to follow after Him with rejoicing.
And so we heed the exhortation of the Apostle Paul:
Pray without ceasing!
In all things give thanks!

This Advent and always…
allow the presence and love of God to penetrate the depths of your heart in prayer,
and draw you into intimate union with Him,
the One in whom alone our souls rejoice!

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