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– a reflection by Rev. Michael S. Murray, OSFS

In a perfect world, we would always be mindful of the presence of the God who created us, who redeemed us and who inspires us. In a perfect world, we would always recognize – and always manage to seize – the countless opportunities God presents to us to do what is right, to do what is good, to do what is creative, to do what is for-giving, and to do what is loving. In a perfect world, we would always be energetic and enthusiastic about living each day, each hour, and each moment as a gift from God. In a perfect world, nothing would ever distract from the things in life that really matter.

Our world, of course, is anything but perfect. We, for that matter, are anything but perfect.

Sometimes we forget the presence of God. Sometimes we miss the chances God gives us to do what is right, and good, and loving. Sometimes we take the gift of life – and each moment of it – for granted. Sometimes we are con-sumed by trivial, even petty, concerns. Sometimes, we just don’t have the energy. Some days, we seem to lose heart.

Prayer reminds us of God’s enduring presence. Prayer helps us to see the countless occasions we have each day to grow in virtue and to turn away from sin. Prayer enables us to gratefully embrace the gift of each new day as it comes. Prayer is what keeps us connected to God; prayer is what keeps us connected to the divine in our-selves; prayer is what keeps us connected to the divine in one another.

Prayer is less about something we do and more about an attitude – and vision – that we develop and deepen.

Francis De Sales described prayer thus: “The essence of prayer is not to be found in always being on our knees but in keeping our wills clearly united to God’s will in all events.” In another place, he observed: “Prayer is the holy water that makes the plants of our good desires grow green and flourish; it cleanses our souls of their imperfections; it quenches the thirst of passion in our hearts.”
Prayer gives us the humility to acknowledge where we’ve been; prayer gives us the gentleness to accept where we are; prayer gives us the courage to consider where we need to go.

In the midst of our very busy, frequently demanding, sometimes frustrating and occasionally overwhelming lives, prayer helps us to stay connected with the people and things in life that really matter. When we “…give our hearts to God a thousand times a day”, we know how to be truly happy, healthy and holy.

Prayer gives us the presence of mind…to be people of heart.

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