Nov 23, 2013

God's prayer houses

I enjoy spending quiet time alone with the Lord. But that doesn't mean I do not have problem in my prayer life. It is just like a battle. When I'm occupied with work and deadlines and hardly have any more time to waste (in prayer), my heart would pine for Him. But after I'm done with the deadlines and have plenty of time to spare, I find myself so lazy that sometimes I would have to really force myself to say the Office. The spirit is willing, the flesh is not! And that, to me, is a real challenge - a battle.

Just as I've been thinking of a strategy to win this battle, the Gospel reading at Mass struck me yesterday. Or rather, this particular verse took all my attention away from the rest of the reading: "My house will be a house of prayer" (Lk 19:46).

More thoughts came during the homily.

According to St Teresa of Avila, the Trinitarian God resides in the centre of our soul (read The Interior Castle authored by her). Her point is supported by St Paul: "Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God (1 Cor 6:19-20)?" There are a few other references from the Bible which spoke about God dwelling in us (e.g. Jn 14:15-17, 23). 

Also, when we receive Him in the Eucharist, He becomes present in us. St Therese of Child Jesus on the Eucharist: "It is not to remain in a golden ciborium that He comes down each day from Heaven, but to find another Heaven, the Heaven of our soul in which He takes delight." St Mary Magdalene de Pazzi said something similar, "... if we would only comprehend the fact that while the Eucharistic Species remain within us, Jesus is there and working in us inseparably with the Father and the Holy Spirit and therefore the whole Holy Trinity is there..."

So if God lives in us, then we are His 'houses'!

Going back to the verse (Lk 19:46) "My house will be a house of prayer" — if we are His 'house', then we His children are expected to live a lifestyle of prayer. As He dwells in us, we become His 'house of prayer'.

We usually have the perception that the Carmelite Monastery is the Church's "prayer house" because the nuns dedicated their lives entirely to prayer. More often than not, we forgot that every one of us are called to prayer. Not that our prayers would bring about some huge significant changes to the world and to those whom we are praying for. But through prayer, God draws us to Himself and to experience Him in the most intimate way. St Teresa of Avila wrote that, to experience God, prayer and meditation is the key to enter this castle where He dwells. How 'effective' our prayers are and whether or not He would grant our requests, we just have to leave that to Him with total trust and faith while we continue to persevere in our prayers.

Perseverance. Perhaps, that's the strategy I should adopt.

"Have we not sometimes let all sorts of 'robbers' into our hearts who would steal away our lives of prayer and devotion to God?" (Permanent Deacon Dr Sherman Kuek, OFS @shermankuek, Twitter)

Now, what was the priest saying during the homily??
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