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Saturday, July 21, 2018
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Catechesis

The Battle of Prayer

“The habitual difficulty in prayer is distraction. It can affect words and their meaning in vocal prayer; it can concern, more profoundly, him to whom we are praying, in vocal prayer (liturgical or personal), meditation, and contemplative prayer. To set about hunting down distractions would be to fall into their trap, when all that is necessary is to turn back to our heart: for a distraction reveals to us what we are attached to, and this humble awareness before the Lord should awaken our preferential love for him and lead us resolutely to offer him our heart to be purified. Therein lies the battle, the choice of which master to serve.” —CCC, no. 2729

waystoprayPrayer requires time, attention, and effort. We need to discipline ourselves for what spiritual writers call “spiritual combat.” They cite problems such as acedia (a form of sloth or laziness) that arises from a lax ascetical behavior, a laxity that needs to be corrected. The Tempter will try to pull us away from prayer. Distraction and dryness will discourage us.

The remedy is faith, fidelity to times for prayer, constant conversion of heart, and watchfulness. The Catechism’s section “The Battle of Prayer” (CCC, nos. 2725-2745) answers many questions that beginners are likely to ask. Its advice is practical and experiential. For example, the section addresses the issue of distraction, a major obstacle for most beginners. Distractions interfere with all forms of prayer. The temptation to fight them entraps one; all that is needed is to turn back to the presence of the Lord in our hearts. A distraction reveals our attachments, but a humble awareness of this can move us to offer Christ our hearts for the needed purification.

After doing the short reading, take time to reflect on these questions. Why do you pray? When do you pray? How do you pray? If you practice some form of meditation regularly, how would you describe it? What means have you taken to persevere in meditation? What are you doing to deepen your prayer life? What are you learning from spiritual reading to help you with your prayer?

10 Things to Remember for Lent

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1. Remember the formula. Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving are the three things we need to work on this season.

2. It’s time for prayer. Lent is essentially an act of prayer spread out over 40 days.

3. It’s a time to fast. With the fasts of Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, meatless Fridays, and our personal disciplines interspersed, Lent is the only time many Catholics these days actually fast.

4. It’s a time to work on discipline. Instead of giving something up, it can be doing some- thing positive.

5. It’s about dying to yourself. The more serious side of Lenten discipline is that it’s about more than self-control – it’s about finding aspects of yourself that are less than Christ-like and letting them die.

6. Don’t do too much. It’s tempting to make Lent some ambitious period of personal reinvention, but it’s best to keep it simple and focused.

7. Lent reminds us of our weakness. This can be painful, but recognizing how helpless we are makes us seek God’s help with renewed urgency and sincerity.

8. Be patient with yourself. God is calling us to be patient and to see ourselves as he does, with unconditional love.

9. Reach out in charity. Almsgiving is about more than throwing a few extra dollars in the collection plate; it’s about reaching out to others and helping them without question as a way of sharing the experience of God’s unconditional love.

10. Learn to love like Christ. Lent is a journey through the desert to the foot of the Cross on Good Friday, as we seek him out, ask his help, join in his suffering, and learn to love like him.

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