"I look at Him, and He looks at me." These words are traditionally attributed to a quiet man from years ago who was usually found in a church. When the Curé of Ars, Father John Vianney, noticed how much time his parishioner was spending in front of our Lord, this affectionate explanation was given. After all, what better way could there be to describe such a beautiful gaze between man and his God?
Quoting St. John Damascene, the Catechism defines prayer as the "raising of one's mind and heart to God, or the requesting of good things from God" (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2559).
We do it at night, we do it on Sundays, and we do it before meals. But how can we best learn how to pray well – in other words, the way God teaches us to pray? The answer lies in the Catechism and in Sacred Scripture. As the former so eloquently explains, humility "is the foundation of prayer." "Whether we realize it or not, prayer is the encounter of God's thirst with ours" (CCC 2559-2560). And in the words of Christ Himself, When "you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you" (Matthew 6:6).
So to pray with purity of heart, we must recognize our needs and our littleness before God. As Catholics, we have the benefit of many wonderful vocal prayers, such as the rosary, a special favorite of our Blessed Mother's. In this prayer, the consistent rhythm of the Hail Mary helps us to meditate upon the many events in the Savior's life. Of course, we should also pray interiorly as well, which can be done at any time, regardless of the circumstances. In fact, no matter how busy we ever become, even a simple "My Jesus, I love you!" is of great value when said with love.
Prayer isn't easy. On the contrary, it's often a battle. Distraction, discouragement and weak faith may disquiet us and attempt to frustrate our attempts to talk with God, especially during times of great pain or loss. Even so, God will always be there for us, whether we run to Him with joyful hearts or fall into His open arms with extreme sadness. Prayer, in the end, is how we grow closer to God each day – combined with charity, love and hard work.
If you have trouble praying or feel unemotional sometimes, don't worry! Love is not a feeling. It's a decision to will the good of another, as St. Thomas Aquinas discovered. May we all strive to pray with more love and hope every day, trusting in the infinite mercy of Jesus and His Blessed Mother!
Joseph Bruck is a parishioner of St. Patrick Cathedral in Charlotte.
Father Shawn O'Neal: In this debate, remember Church teaching on human rightsAs a means to develop a comprehensive plan to reform our nation's current immigration system, a group of senators has introduced legislation formally called the "Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013."...
Father Matthew Buettner: Radical ChristianityRecently, the Boston Marathon came to an abrupt end when two bombs exploded near the finish line. Three young people died in the explosion, including an 8-year-old boy who received his first Holy Communion just 11 months ago. Along with these...
The Poor Clares: Joy and sacrificeSt. Paul was a man passionate with zeal and consumed by love for God and desire for the salvation of souls. His actions and words were geared toward one purpose: the claiming of souls from the dominion of the devil, and the deceit used by him...
Brian Williams:The honest 411 on Vatican III recently had the opportunity to take a class about the Second Vatican Council offered through a diocesan adult education program. While much was covered within a relatively short span of four classes, one subject occupied much of our time...
William L. Esser IV: Love and 'gay marriage'It's always best to get your disclaimer on the table early, so here is mine: I'm a lawyer, I love my Catholic faith, and I love my country. So it should come as no surprise that I have been following the recent "gay marriage" cases before the...
Peggy Bowes: Be the stranger"I have always depended on the kindness of strangers." — Blanche DeBois, "A Streetcar Named Desire" I was quietly praying the rosary, holding a "Pray to Stop Abortion" sign outside Planned Parenthood in Winston-Salem, when a delivery truck...
Deacon James Toner: On Christian RealismWe Catholics often find ourselves trying to chart a wise and balanced course between justice and mercy, between solemnity and a touch of appropriate humor, between the classical and the contemporary. So it is with the law of love and the fact...
LETTERS FROM OUR READERS
Warrior saints are found throughout historyRegarding the April 26 letter criticizing St. Nicholas of Flue, I am disgusted that an American would insinuate that a soldier who distinguishes himself or herself in combat is not following...
Who would be worthy?In a letter in the April 26 Catholic News Herald, St. Nicholas of Flue was referred to as someone who "did not follow those teachings" of Christ because he defended the faith with his sword and...
St. Peregrine is a model to followI greatly admire the saints. The stories of youthful saints speak powerfully to me and never fail to captivate me; since I am 15, I can relate particularly to them. When I read the article about...
FROM THE PASTORS
Read and listen to homilies posted regularly by pastors at parishes within the Diocese of Charlotte:
- Fr. Frank Cancro at Queen of the Apostles
- Fr. Patrick Earl at St. Peter in Charlotte
- Fr. John Eckert at St. John the Baptist in Tryon
- Fr. Timothy Reid at St. Ann in Charlotte
- Fr. Benjamin Roberts at Our Lady of Lourdes in Monroe
- Fr. Patrick Winslow at St. Thomas Aquinas in Charlotte
- Watch full Masses live and on demand, listen to homilies and reflections from Sacred Heart Church in Salisbury
- Listen to homilies from St. William Catholic Church in Murphy