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SERVE THE LORD WITH GLADNESS | Praying always is a necessity

Readings and examples from saints show us that some ‘coincidences’ are really God’s providential direction for us

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

There are some amazing “coincidences” in the readings this week. I don’t think they’re coincidences at all, but part of God’s providential direction for us. Let me focus on three of them.

First: We’ve been reading sequentially through the Gospel of Luke since the beginning of September. This week, on the day we celebrate the feast of St. Rose Philippine Duchesne (Nov. 18), we “just happen” to read: “Jesus told His disciples a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary” (Luke 18:1). Isn’t it interesting that the “woman who prays always” is the name the Native Americans gave to St. Rose Philippine!

I think God wants us to ponder this point: How can we “pray always” today?

The Jesus prayer — Jesus, Son of the living God, have mercy on me, a sinner — is a simple prayer that can be repeated over and over. The spiritual masters say that it can be synchronized with the beating of our heart so that, as long as our hearts are beating we are, on some level, praying. This is like the admonition of St. Gregory of Nazianzus: “We must remember God more often than we draw breath.” We never grow weary of breathing. Our prayer can become more like that!

St. Augustine provides a different point of entry. He speaks of how our desire can become a place of prayer: “For the desire of your heart is itself your prayer. And if the desire is constant, so is your prayer.” We constantly desire things. Maybe we can more constantly desire God!

Second: We celebrate the feast of St. Albert the Great this week (Nov. 15). He’s the patron saint of scientists. This week we also “just happen” to read excerpts from the Book of Wisdom about how pondering the visible world can lead us to know the invisible creator: “For from the greatness and the beauty of created things their original author, by analogy, is seen.” This is followed by the words of Psalm 19: “The heavens proclaim the glory of God.”

I think God wants us to ponder this point: How can we come to a better appreciation of the relationship between faith and science today?

Word on Fire ministries recently released a series of short films called “Wonder: The Harmony of Faith and Science.” If you want to learn more about how faith and science can go together, I encourage you to watch them. Or you might look up the Society of Catholic Scientists. This large (and growing!) group explores many ways that faith and science work together.

Third and last, Psalm 82 this week says: “Rise up, O God, bring judgment to the earth.” But then, as we ponder God’s judgment, other readings this week “just happen” to confront us with a series of contraries. 1) “For Wisdom is a kindly spirit, yet she acquits not the blasphemer of his guilty lips.” 2) “If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.” 3) “For the lowly may be pardoned out of mercy but the mighty shall be mightily put to the test.”

I think God wants us to ponder this point: How do we think of His judgment? For many people, their image of God’s judgment is all punishment or all mercy. These readings, however, challenge us to come up with a deeper, more nuanced image.

Let’s thank God for these providential “coincidences,” and ponder the questions they raise for us.

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