|444 Conscious of our duties, can we let a whole day go past without remembering we have a soul?
In our daily meditation, we have always to put things right so as not to depart from the way.
445 If you abandon prayer you may at first live on spiritual reserves... and after that, by cheating.
446 Practise meditation for a fixed period and at a fixed time.
—Otherwise we would be putting our own convenience first; that would be a lack of mortification. And prayer without mortification is not at all effective.
447 You lack interior life: that is because you do not consider in your prayer other people’s concerns and proselytism; because you do not make an effort to see things clearly, to make definite resolutions and fulfil them; because you do not have a supernatural outlook in your study, in your work, in your conversations, and your dealings with others...
—Are you living in the presence of God? For that is a consequence and a manifestation of your prayer.
448 You haven’t been praying? Why, because you haven’t had time?
—But you do have time. Furthermore, what sort of works will you be able to do if you have not meditated on them in the presence of the Lord, so as to put them in order? Without that conversation with God, how can you finish your daily work with perfection? —Look, it is as if you claimed you had no time to study because you were too busy giving lessons... Without study you cannot teach well.
Prayer has to come before everything. If you understand this and do not put it into practice, don’t tell me that you have no time: it’s simply that you do not want to pray!
449 Prayer, more prayer! —It may seem odd to say that now when you are taking examinations and working harder... But you need prayer, and not only the habitual prayer as an exercise of devotion; you also need to pray during odd moments, to pray between times, instead of allowing your mind to wander on silly things.
It does not matter if, in spite of your effort, you do not manage to concentrate and be recollected. That meditation may be of greater value than the one you made, with all ease, in the oratory.
450 Here is an effective custom for achieving presence of God: your first audience every day should be with Jesus Christ.
451 Prayer is not the prerogative of monks; it is a Christian undertaking of men and women of the world who know themselves to be children of God.
452 Certainly, you have to follow your way: a man of action... with a contemplative vocation.
453 A Catholic, without prayer? It is the same as a soldier without arms.
454 Thank the Lord for the enormous gift he has granted you by making you understand that “only one thing is necessary.” And, along with that thanksgiving, may no day go past without your offering a prayer of petition for those who don’t know him yet or have not understood him.
455 When they were fishing for you, you would ask yourself where they got that strength and fire which burned everything in sight. —Now as you pray you realise that this is the source that wells up within the true children of God.
456 You belittle meditation... Might you not be afraid, and so seek anonymity since you dare not speak with Christ face to face?
—You must see that there are many ways of belittling meditation, even though you might say you are practising it.
457 Prayer is a time for holy intimacies and firm resolutions.
458 How much sense there was in the plea of a soul who said: Lord, don’t abandon me; can’t you see that there is “another person” who is tugging at my feet?
459 Will the Lord return and enkindle my soul? Your head assures you that He will come and so, deep down, does a faint sense of longing which is perhaps hope. On the other hand, your heart and will (too much of the former and too little of the latter) cast a paralysing and deadly melancholy over everything, like a sneer of bitter mockery.
Listen to the promise of the Holy Spirit: “Within a very short time, He who has to come will come and will not delay. In the meantime, the just man lives by faith.”
460 True prayer which absorbs the whole individual benefits not so much from the solitude of the desert as from interior recollection.
461 We prayed that evening right out in the country as night was falling. We must have looked rather peculiar to anyone who saw us and did not know what we were up to: sitting on the ground in silence, which was interrupted only by the reading of some points for meditation.
That prayer under the open sky, hammering away for everyone there with us, for the Church, for souls, was fruitful and pleasing to Heaven. Any place is fitting for that meeting with God.
462 I am glad that in your prayer you tend to go far: you contemplate lands different from the one in which you find yourself; before your eyes pass people of other races; you hear different tongues... It is like an echo of that commandment of Jesus, Euntes docete omnes gentes — go, teach all nations.
To go ever further, you must enkindle that fire among those around you. Your dreams and ambitions will become reality: sooner, more and better!
463 Your prayer will sometimes be discursive; maybe less often, full of fervour; and, perhaps often, dry, dry, dry. But what matters is that you, with God’s help, are not disheartened.
Consider the sentry on duty. He does not know if the King or the Head of State is in the palace: he is not told what he might be doing, and generally the public figure does not know who is on guard.
It is not at all like that with our God. He lives where you live, He cares for you and knows your inmost thoughts. Do not abandon the guard-duty of your prayer!
464 Look at the set of senseless reasons the enemy gives you for abandoning your prayer. “I have no time” — when you are continually wasting it. “This is not for me.” “My heart is dry... ”
Prayer is not a question of what you say or feel, but of love. And you love when you try hard to say something to the Lord, even though you might not actually say anything.
465 “Just one minute of intense prayer is enough.” Someone who never prayed used to say that.
—Would someone in love think it enough to contemplate intensely the person they love for just a minute?
466 This ideal of warring — and winning — Christ’s battles will only become a reality through prayer and sacrifice, through Faith and Love. Well, then… pray and believe, and suffer, and Love!
467 Mortification is the drawbridge that enables us to enter the castle of prayer.
468 Do not be discouraged. However unworthy the person is, however imperfect the prayer turns out to be, if it is offered with humility and perseverance, God always hears it.
469 Lord, I do not deserve to be heard, because I am wicked, a penitent soul prayed: But he added: Yet... listen to me quoniam bonus — because You are good.
470 Our Lord sent out his disciples to preach, and when they came back he gathered them together and invited them to go with him to a desert place where they could rest... What marvellous things Jesus would ask them and tell them! Well, the Gospel is always relevant to the present day.
471 I understand perfectly when you write to me about your apostolate: “I am going to pray for three hours, studying Physics. It will be a bombardment so that another position, which is on the other side of the library table, falls — you have met him already when he came round here.”
I remember how happy you were when you heard me say that prayer and work can easily go together.
472 The Communion of Saints: that young engineer understood it well when he told me: “Father, on such a day, at such a time, you were praying for me.”
This is and will always be the first and most fundamental help that we can provide for souls: prayer.
473 Acquire the habit of saying vocal prayers in the morning, while you are dressing, like little children. You will have greater presence of God later during the day.
474 The Rosary is most effective for those who use their intelligence and their study as a weapon. Because that apparently monotonous way of beseeching Our Lady as children do their Mother, can destroy every seed of vainglory and pride.
475 “Immaculate Virgin, I know well that I am only a miserable wretch, and all I do is increase each day the number of my sins... ” You told me the other day that was how you spoke to Our Mother.
And I was confident in advising you with assurance to say the Holy Rosary. Blessed be that monotony of Hail Marys which purifies the monotony of your sins!
476 A sad way of not praying the Rosary is to leave it for the end of the day.
If you say it when going to bed, it will be done at best badly and with no meditation on the mysteries. It will be difficult then to avoid routine, which is what drowns true piety, the only piety worth the name.
477 The Rosary is said not with the lips alone, muttering Hail Marys one after the other. That is the way over-pious old men and women rattle them off. —For a Christian, vocal prayer must spring from the heart, so that while the Rosary is said, the mind can enter into contemplation of each one of the mysteries.
478 You always leave the Rosary for later, and you end up not saying it at all because you are sleepy. —If there is no other time, say it in the street without letting anybody notice it. It will, moreover, help you to have presence of God.
479 “Pray for me,” I said as I always do. And he answered in amazement: “But is something the matter?”
I had to explain that something is the matter or happens to us all the time; and I added that when prayer is lacking, “more and more weighty things are the matter.”
480 Renew your acts of contrition during the day. You must realise that Jesus is being offended constantly, and unfortunately, these offences are not being atoned for at the same rate.
That is why I have so often said: “Acts of contrition, the more the better!” Echo my words with your life and your advice.
481 How lovable is the scene of the Annunciation. How often we have meditated on this! Mary is recollected in prayer. She is using all her senses and her faculties to speak to God. It is in prayer that she comes to know the divine Will. And with prayer she makes it the life of her life. Do not forget the example of the Virgin Mary.
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