Tomas Mavric, 24th successor to St. Vincent, in his 2020 Lenten reflection asks us
“What’s the difference between prayers and praying?
Depending on the answer, on the one hand, prayer can become a burden to be carried out day after day. It can be a collection of texts, formulas, body positions, and rules that I am required to follow. In that case, prayer eventually becomes useless, something that does not speak to me personally or to the reality of my life.
In other words we try to change God and get frustrated when we think prayer is not changing God.
On the other hand, if prayer becomes indispensable for my life, something that cannot be detached from my person, from what I think, say, and do, then it takes on a transforming power.
In this view, prayer is like being in the presence of someone who loves us greatly. We spontaneously try to become like the beloved.
Five more thought starters
- When I approach everything I think, say, and do as part of a personal relationship with Jesus, all my thoughts, words, and actions become prayer.
- I am in front of Someone. I am with Someone. I am talking, listening, and sharing with Someone who is the “Love” of my life and whom I long to resemble.
- During the day, as well as at night, whether I am awake or asleep, I thus remain in constant contact with Jesus,
- Indeed, prayer transforms my hierarchy of values and my relationship to people, objects, places, and time.
- If their prayer life were not a deep relationship with the Love of their life. Jesus was their all and thus guided all their choices.
VIncent’s way of saying it
This means knowing Him and “entering into His spirit,” according to the advice Saint Vincent gave his confreres:
When the occasions arise, we may ask ourselves. ‘How did Our Lord judge such or such a thing? How did He act in such or such a circumstance? What did He say and do regarding certain matters?’ and thus we may adapt our whole way of acting in accord with His maxims and examples.
So then, let’s take this resolution, Messieurs, and walk confidently along this royal road on which Jesus Christ will be our leader and guide, remembering that He has said that heaven and earth will pass away (cf. Matthew 24:35), but His words will never pass away. Let’s bless Our Lord, brothers, strive to think and judge as He did, and do what He recommended by His words and examples.
Let’s enter into His Spirit to adopt His ways of acting; for doing good isn’t everything; it must be done well, in imitation of Our Lord, of whom it is said. Bene omnia fecit: He has done all things well (cf. Mark 7:37). No, it’s not enough to fast, to observe the Rules, to carry out the ministries of the Mission; but we must do this in the Spirit of Jesus Christ, that is, with perfection, for the purpose, and in the way He did them.
Fr. Mavric, speaks of prayer as an encounter he uses the image of a desert… a place to which I go physically or a state of mind not linked to a concrete place. There are many ways of going into the “desert” to deepen my intimate relationship with Jesus.
Fr. Mavric asks…
- Where can I find that desert?
- How often can I go to the desert?
- How long can I stay in the desert?