The Breath of Life

I’m in Peru with Dr. Tony Lazzara. His clinic has been caring for poor children for more than 25 years. Some 50 seriously ill kids live in his home until they are well enough to be returned to their families. Dr. Tony is a Secular Franciscan whose life and ministry is rooted in prayer.

For St. Francis of Assisi, prayer was the breath of life. Prayer was the simplest most direct way for the saint to acknowledge his dependency on God for everything. Prayer enabled St. Francis to become more aware of God’s presence, a presence which was at once far beyond him and deep within him. Prayer is communion with God. Prayer was the saint’s safest haven, and he devoted himself to long periods of intense prayer, sometimes lasting throughout the night. He sought out solitary places where he could enter into communion with God. For Francis, silence was the language of God; and he knew the importance of being still and resting in God. Fully half his converted life was spent in contemplation and prayer. Prayer was part of the fabric of his life, and everything he did began with and grew out of prayer. Francis spent hours on his knees before the crucifix; adoration was the oxygen of his spiritual life. And he breathed deeply the pure divine glory of Life itself. Francis sacrificed everything in order to enter deeply into a life of prayer. For Francis, prayer was Reality, and it became the center of his life. He peppered his life with periods of solitude.

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