“Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
“Seriously? Pray always?”
That is not an uncommon reaction to St. Paul’s admonition to pray always without ceasing. Does he know what we’re up against, the demands on our time and energy, the pace of our modern world, not to mention the fragility and inconsistency of our human nature? He can’t possibly mean always, as in, all the time and everywhere. Impossible!
Whenever the word “impossible” creeps into our vocabulary, we want to look again. Remember that line from scripture, “With God, all things are possible?” Very often the precise things we say are impossible are the things God wants to do in our lives by His power alone. And I suspect that if each of us looks closely we will discover this is the case in the task considered here.
For a moment, let’s look at another impossibility, “I am with you always.” Right now, as I type, I am sitting alone in a room in the convent. Just me and the computer and the other miscellaneous, inanimate objects in the room. Nobody else here. No one, that is, that I can see with my eyes or hear with my ears or touch with my hands. Ah, but the eyes of faith tell me something far different. And I can listen with my heart to a voice that speaks in silence. And my soul is being held and sustained by the creative touch of my God. Seriously? You can bet your life on it, because He gave His life for this very reason.
So let’s put these two impossibilities together. These days after Easter are a powerful time for us to rekindle our awareness of the presence of Jesus with us day in and day out. In the readings at Mass we hear about Him walking with His disciples on the road to Emmaus, fixing breakfast for His apostles on the seashore, and stretching out His hand to a follower lost in doubt. So what’s to stop Him from joining us on our commute to work? Or at the kitchen table with our cup of coffee? Or at the end of a day when prayer seems choked by doubt, regret and fear? Just being open to His presence is prayer: watching for signs of His love, listening for His words, and waiting for His healing touch. Because He is with us always, we can indeed pray always. Seriously.
By Sister Mary Louise, O.C.D.
Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles
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