Being Present

Without prayer, God dies in our hearts. “This day is yours, Lord,” I say each day upon rising. Yet, before I even finish my first cup of coffee, the day has become mine.

Contemplation requires tranquility and patience. The art of contemplating divine truths grows out of the art of remaining still. To be a contemplative is to be receptive to the divine Word. Prayer is being present.

God never shouts to be heard over our noise. Only silence gives God a chance to speak. The soul that waits on God, patiently and unhurriedly, will eventually be filled with the realization he or she is infinitely loved.

An Undivided Heart

“Do not give your heart to that which does not satisfy your heart.” -St. Abba Poemem

When it comes to following Christ without reservation, I know exactly what to do. What I lack is the courage to do it. By recognizing my weakness I become strong. I need to stand before God in a stance of constant conversion. Humility is the heart of Christianity, and the gateway to prayer. The acknowledgment of our own weakness is the first step toward an acknowledgment of Christ’s strength. God reveals my sinfulness to me, not to make me feel guilty but to offer me forgiveness and freedom from the bondage of sin. God is humble. God lives in our poverty and weakness. God alone calms and satisfies all our desire. Passion is an expression of love or hunger. Only the pure of heart see God in everything. A pure heart is an undivided heart. I need to remind myself daily to walk humbly behind Christ. My anguish, my fear, my temptations can become a path to God if I acknowledge my littleness, my weakness and transform them into a trust that God alone can bring light into my darkness if I abandon myself completely and take refuge in God’s love.

Loving Service

It is in stillness that we find our emptiness, the emptiness that can only be filled by welcoming God into our hearts. In the state of emptiness, you are better able to encounter the fullness of God. In stillness we learn that no one is self-sufficient. We need others and the Other. Only when I am vulnerable is it possible for me to be broken and restored to the image of God.

Jesus came to liberate not oppress. Can I do anything other than what He did? Am I a sacrament of salvation for my neighbor? Christ’s message can be reduced to this: make every stranger, no matter how poor or dirty, no matter how weak or unlovable, your neighbor. Tough message. Even tougher is the fact that Christ does not want you to defeat your enemies; he asks you to pray for them.

Grace is God’s way of talking to us. We can best experience grace and therefore hear God more clearly when we stop living for ourselves and instead give ourselves in loving service to others.

A Million Faces

To run from the experience of poverty is to run from God. I need to become more and more intimate with the poor and crucified Christ. We all have the same vocation: to be Christ. And each of us must become our own individual versions of Christ. Christ has a million faces, including yours.

Love does not just happen, like some magical trick. Love must be discovered and developed. We need to look for God (in the mundane details of daily life) and listen to God (in the silence of our hearts), and respond to God (in concrete actions).

A Gift of Love

The end of isolation is found in prayer. Through prayer, we become aware that God is present. Through prayer we become at home with the living presence with whom we can share everything. And in the presence of God we become aware of our complete dependence on the Creator. Prayer fosters within us a spirit of humility and the realization we cannot truly live without God.

Prayer is a gift of Love, and a means of living our whole life as a communion with the Lord, who through the Incarnation came to share in our human condition. As we encounter God in the depths of ourselves, we are no longer astonished by the darkness of God’s mystery, but we merely accept it, living by faith. We no longer belong to ourselves but to Love, the giver of the gift. When we enter fully in the presence we experience spontaneous joy…even during trials, hardships and suffering. Even when we are weak, empty and hurting, we know the Lord is present. Trusting in this presence we are compelled to accept everything as coming from God.

Eyes Wide Open

The love of God leads us somewhere – we just do not know where. We have no choice but to follow God into the unknown. Give your heart eyes, alert eyes, eyes wide open to the presence of God. The unhealthy habits of our hearts hinder our ability to embrace God. The biggest obstacle to prayer is the way we pray, trying to verbalize everything. Effective prayer goes beyond words and images; it requires a complete awareness of the present moment.

Mindfulness of God

Prayer stimulates a mindfulness of God, which in turn stimulates acts of love and mercy. Love is service. It is the emptying of self. It is losing in order to find. Acknowledging my own weakness increases my ability to be more merciful towards others. The Christian life can be reduced to this: live the beatitudes.

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