Saturday, February 02, 2008

Bishop Blair: "Lent 2008: ‘Lord, Teach Us to Pray’ "

Toledo Bishop Leonard P. Blair writes in the February 2008 issue of The Catholic Chronicle:
Lent 2008: ‘Lord, teach us to pray’

Written by Leonard P. Blair, Bishop of Toledo

... When in our own diocese and in our country we see the need for a rekindling of faith and practice among the Catholic people, nothing is more important than education in prayer. For Christmas I sent the priests of our diocese a book titled “The Fulfillment of All Desire” by Ralph Martin. Using the writings of some of the greatest saints, Mr. Martin develops various themes of the spiritual life, especially prayer.

The very title, “The Fulfillment of All Desire,” indicates where prayer leads us, as it gives us even now a taste, an inkling of what is to come. In his encyclical Spe Salvi Pope Benedict speaks of prayer as a school of hope founded on the reality of eternal life, that is, “life in the full sense, a plunging ever anew into the vastness of being, in which we are simply overwhelmed with joy.” (no. 12) Clearly, prayer is much more than simply “imploring help,” to use the words of John Paul.

During Lent it would be good to reflect on the change of heart that is needed if we are to have a more mature understanding of prayer. St. Augustine expressed it well when he said that prayer is not about informing God concerning our needs, or persuading God to grant them. God already knows our needs before we ask, and His loving providence governs everything. Rather, prayer is an opportunity for us to “exercise” our desires, raising our minds and hearts to God, so that our minds and hearts may be widened to receive what God is prepared to give, namely Himself...

“Lord, teach us to pray.” As a gift of grace hopefully we will learn that praying “as Jesus taught us” means more than just using His words. It also means measuring our desires and intentions by the standard of Jesus’ own. If we cannot imagine our prayer on the lips of Jesus, then God is calling us to a greater spiritual maturity. As we draw near to Lent 2008, may the “fulfillment of all desire” be the inspiration for our prayer and our preparation for the joy of Easter.

[Read the whole thing]

Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
Bishop Blair: "The World is Not Enough"

Bishop Blair: "Peace on Earth, in Communities, Homes"

Bishop Blair Urges Toledo-Area Catholics to Reject Domestic-Partner Registry

Bishop Blair: "Listening to Our Mother"

"How a Shepherd Speaks"

Bishop Blair: "A Dialogue of Truth and Love"

Bishop Blair: "Upholding the Bond of Love" (Part 3)

Bishop Blair: "Upholding the Bond of Love" (Part 2)

Bishop Blair: "Upholding the Bond of Love"

Bishop Blair: "The Gospel of Life Revisited"

Bishop Blair: "Building Your House on a Rock"

Meeting the Bishop - After Action Report

Bishop Blair Teaches: "And With Your Spirit"

Bishop Blair: "What God Joins Together"

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