31st August - Faith
We are blessed with so many gifts from God, and one especially is our Faith.

It is based on the solid foundation of a lavish God who cares for all his creatures, especially those made in his image. Added to this is the death and resurrection of His Son.

The examples and the memories of our Good God and Loving Saviour touching our lives are also always there for us to recall and strengthen us - especially in dark times.

That is why I love this prayer I came across recently. It is more than a prayer, it can serve as a meditation for a longer period.

24th August 2015 - Mary MacKillop
On the 8th of August we celebrated the Feast of our only Australian Saint, St Mary of the Cross MacKillop. She wrote many letters which contained so much wisdom and depth of Faith. I would like to quote the following:

“When storms rage, when persecutions or dangers threaten, I quietly creep into (the Sacred Heart’s) dark abyss; and securely sheltered there, my soul is in peace, though my body is tossed upon the stormy waves of a cold and selfish world”.  Mary MacKillop, Feast of the Sacred Heart, Letters to Sisters (1907)

What a wonderful way to express how she experienced the compassionate God in Jesus!

Mary also came to know and understand the generous love of Jesus who sought out the sick, the outcast, and the poor. She knew how he welcomed the lost, those who had no one to care for them and how he ate with sinners.

This compassion of Jesus for others called forth compassion within Mary MacKillop. She became open to people of all faiths and backgrounds and lived her life in the service of others, particularly young people in country towns needing education and outcast women and homeless men. Mary and her Sisters, in human ways, expressed to others the compassionate love of Jesus.

A good question for me to think and pray about is ‘How do I respond to God’s compassionate love?’

17th August 2015 - Finding God
Having reflected a little on the importance of a desire for prayer and a desire for God, I thought I would offer you a rich and beautiful quote of Fr Pedro Arrupe SJ. He was the Father General of the Jesuits and died in 1991. From all reports he was a very wise and holy man. I believe if anything could convince us about continuing to search for and find God, it would be this quote.

Nothing is more practical than finding God,
that is, than falling in love in a quite absolute and final way.
What you are in love with,
what seizes your imagination,
will affect everything.
It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning,
What you will do with your evenings,
how you will spend your weekends,
what you will read,
who you know,
what breaks your heart,
and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.
Fall in love, stay in love,
And it will decide everything.

10th August 2015 - Desire for God
As a desire for prayer is very important, so is a desire for God. They are very closely aligned.

A desire for God leads us more deeply into God. On the 22nd of July we celebrated the Feast of St Mary Magdalen. She is a great inspiration for us to desire and seek God.

The scene outside Jesus’ tomb on Easter morning portrays this strong desire of Mary. (Jn 20:1-2, 11-18)

The Apostles had left the tomb but Mary stayed wanting to find Jesus.

Her grief at not being able to find or see him expresses her deep desire for Jesus.To the one she thought was the gardener she said, “Sir, if you have him taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and remove him.” Again a powerful desire for Jesus comes through.

When Jesus called her by name she recognised him. The great joy and delight she experienced and the way she clung to him again shows her strong desire for and loves of Jesus.

Pope Gregory the Great has this to say about Mary Magdalen, “She had already sought and found nothing. But she persevered, and therefore found the object of her love. While she was seeking, her longing grew stronger and stronger until at highest pitch it was allayed in the embrace of Him whom she was seeking. Holy desires grow with delay; if they fade through delay they are no desires at all.”

3rd August 2015 - Desire for prayer
How often I hear from people words like “I can’t pray well - I used to when I was young, but not now - I am more easily distracted now etc….”

In answer to my question, “Do you think of God?” I normally get the answer, “Quite often during the day!”

In fact many people make short sharp prayers throughout the day. They lift their mind and heart to God often. The old name for these short prayers was ‘aspirations’.

This leads me to a better question to ask people. “Do you desire to pray?” I am sure we would answer a hearty ‘YES’ to this.

Well the great spiritual writers of all time assure us that the ‘desire to pray’ is God’s special gift, a prayer in itself. I will quote just two.

St Augustine: “Your desire is your prayer; if your desire is constant, your prayer is constant”.

St John Chrysostom: “You should not think of prayer as being a matter of words. It is a desire, and incredible devotion, not of human origin, but the gift of God’s Grace”.

So apart from a strong desire to pray being in itself prayer, it will lead to a growth in our relationship with God and Jesus and therfore to a deeper prayer life.