Faith and prayer

“God gives faith equally to everyone, and he invites all of us to develop this faith” (the Word among us, August 2008, p. 16).  Faith is both “an attitude of heart” that grows through prayer and “an inner conviction that comes from the Holy Spirit” (pp. 15 & 17).

ND12609Warm welcome

On our way back home Saturday morning, Steven drove us to Kerrville.  Never having been there, our first impression turned into wondering if we could make it our home.

We looked for a Catholic church, easily found Notre Dame, and stopped for a visit.  How perfect to find open doors leading to a simplistically elegant spaciousness warmly lit through stained-glass windows in the open-truss ceiling.

Within moments, a woman arrived, smiling at us as she knelt to pray.  In no time, she joined us in quiet meditation before the Blessed Sacrament.  “Where two or more are gathered” came to mind (Matthew 18:20) .

Dear God, were we meant to pray together?

Trusting soul

As we stood by the choir section, a very humble, elderly Hispanic man came up to me.  Without speaking he insistently, almost urgently, handed me a church envelope.

Puzzled, I wanted to say “but we’re not from here” or “we’re not staying for Mass.”  But, realizing it was his weekly offering, I thanked him and looked around for a receptacle in which to deposit the padded envelope.

Seeing no metal receptacle by the statues or the candles I turned back to the man who, by then, was deep in prayer: eyes tightly closed, kneeling next to me on the floor.  He didn’t hear me thank him two more times.

My heart went out to him.  His attire made me wonder if, even as an elder, he still worked the fields or minded livestock.  Had he stopped by church at that time knowing his work would keep him from attending Mass that weekend?

Dear God, did you call us here for this man?

Building community

In the meantime, the woman before the Blessed Sacrament had left and a woman with a small child had entered.  Standing before Our Lady of Guadalupe she was wholly immersed in prayer.

She can help us!

I turned back to the man, but he’d already left.  Turning back to my only hope, I found that the woman had left as well.

Even if the rectory was open I had no idea how to get there, and we’d seen no one else on the church grounds.  We exited through the side door we’d first entered and walked around to the front.  Those doors were unlocked and— more relieved than surprised— I was beyond glad to see the woman with her child as we entered.

“Good morning!” I said warmly before asking about the donations receptacle.

The woman wanted to help me, but she struggled with her English.  Then, on hearing me speak Spanish, her face lit up— until she realized that I wanted to entrust her with placing Augustín’s envelope in the collection basket at Mass.

Gloria was my only hope.  I had to help her understand why I couldn’t hold onto it.

Faith and prayer

Conversing as long-lost friends Gloria told us that Notre Dame is the only Catholic church in town, “one among many, many of the other churches.”  She’s part of the Cursillo movement and wants us to attend Mass together when we return.

Then Gloria told us about her family.  The three oldest daughters attend school and love to learn.  The youngest, Rosibel, will attend Head Start after she turns four in November.  Gloria wants to look for work once her little one’s in school, since the family lives on her husband’s meager social security benefits.  Education is key to their daughters’ success and well-being, so she does her part to provide for them.

When I told Gloria about our visits to the various churches and about the church website, she asked that I provide the link.  The family can’t afford the internet, but the girls can stay in touch through the computer at the public library.  In turn, Gloria gave me her telephone number.

Despite her family’s economic struggles Gloria walks in faith the way her mother taught her in Coahuila.  She believes that God’s love, goodness, and mercy have guided and protected the family the past nineteen years in Kerrville.

Dear God, was Gloria’s need to share so great that you made our meeting possible  through Agustin’s church offering?  Or was this one of your lessons in faith and prayer?

Connectedness

Although Gloria’s initial response was to refuse Agustín’s envelope, she finally relented— not because she’d be at nine-thirty Mass the next morning, but because I trusted her, she told me.

Coming away from our experience at Notre Dame I felt an unexpected but enduring connectedness to the four parishioners that Saturday morning, so I kept my promise to Gloria.  On getting home, I placed their names in the two little baskets— one for petitions, the other for thanksgiving and praise— before the Holy Infant of Prague here at home and have kept them close ever since.

“Remember that faith is a gift and a disposition, not a set of rules and tasks that one must accomplish” (the Word among us, p. 18).  When we make the time to discover God’s “treasures in secret places,” we unwittingly practice our faith (Isaiah 45:3).

December 10, 2014

“Faith is the art of holding on to things in spite of your changing moods and circumstances” (C. S. Lewis).

June 3, 2015

“But when you take the leap to look at the world through the eyes of faith, you start seeing God’s fingerprints everywhere, creating connections so subtle, so delicate, they might pass unseen” (Cari Donaldson in Pope Awesome & other stories).

August 28, 2015

Faith is the first light, the heralding light, the foundation placed in us of what in its final perfection will be the beatific vision of God.  It is the beginning of the eternal ways in us, the commencement of our union with God (William Ullathorne in Patience and Humility).

October 29, 2015

When faith grows weak, all virtues are weakened.  When faith is lost, all virtues are lost (St. Alphonsus Liguori).

November 6, 2015

“Prayer is nothing else than being on terms of friendship with God” (St. Teresa of Ávila).

January 15, 2016

Holiness is not something for some privileged few.  God calls everyone.  From everyone he waits for love: from everyone, wherever they may be; from everyone, whatever may be their state in life, profession, or occupation
(St. Josemaría Escrivá).

June 18, 2016

“Faith furnishes prayer with wings, without which it cannot soar to heaven” (St. John Climacus).

June 22, 2016

“The ordinary acts we practice every day at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest” (St. Thomas More).

July 25, 2016

“Faith … if it does not have works, is dead” (James 2:17).

November 4, 2016

“Such is the nature of faith that the greater are the obstacles it encounters, the more ardent it becomes” (St. Charles Borromeo).

January 2, 2017

The gift of faith, which comes to us from God, is a sublime grace.  But we are not intended to keep it to ourselves— in effect, to bury it in the ground.  The apostolic fishermen were ordained to be fishers of souls and not custodians of an aquarium (Fr. George W. Rutler in Hints of Heaven).

April 20, 2017

Faith is the door through which we enter the supernatural order.  It opens into heaven.  It tells us [that] we have not here a lasting city, but we seek one that is to come (Abbot Chapman).

June 6, 2017

“When you take the leap to look at the world through the eyes of faith, you start seeing God’s fingerprints everywhere, creating connections so subtle, so delicate, they might pass unseen” (Cari Donaldson in Pope Awesome & Other Stories).

June 12, 2017

Faith dovetails with hope and matures in charity.  The life of faith is truly redemptive if there is hope for a future glory and a true friendship with God, which is charity.  The work of Christian faith is charity, and the eternal expectation connected with it is hope (Fr. Maurice Emelu in Our Journey to God).

August 24, 2017

“For faith is the beginning and the end is love, and God is the two of them brought into unity” (St. Ignatius of Antioch).

August 31, 2017

Faith requires perseverance.  It often grows in stages.  Sometimes we fall.  Sometimes we walk away.  So often, we must crawl.  Whether we consciously admit to it or not, our faith— our life in Christ— has sustained us throughout the ups and downs of our lives.  It has sustained us in moments of new life and in death, at times of sickness, and at those times when we struggle to give meaning to painful situations (Peter J. Vaghi in Meeting God in the Upper Room: Three Moments to Change Your Life).

September 18, 2017

We must express joy and thanks to the Lord in our problems.  Joy and thankfulness transform our problems into opportunities for the Lord to work in our lives.  They turn our minds from our problems to him (Bert Ghezzi in Getting Free: How to Overcome Persistent Spiritual Problems).

January 31, 2018

“It is the very nature of faith to persevere, for faith is not rooted in emotion but in character, not in experience but in loyalty; in short, not in the changeable but in the constant elements of life” (Romano Guardini in The Art of Praying).

June 4, 2018

“When you take the leap to look at the world through the eyes of faith, you start seeing God’s fingerprints everywhere, creating connections so subtle, so delicate, they might pass unseen” (Cari Donaldson in Pope Awesome & Other Stories).

June 15, 2018

Faith is no refuge for the fainthearted, but something which enhances our lives.  It makes us aware of a magnificent calling, the vocation of love (Pope Francis in Lumen Fidei, 53).

July 18, 2018

Faith is much more than the sum total of everything we believe.  Faith describes the stance we take before the world and the way in which we engage the world.  Faith flows out of the belief that each one of us matters and that we exist to share God’s life.  In order to remain confident in this truth, we must allow Jesus to say this to us again and again and again.  We must give the Lord the opportunity to affirm this truth and to express this truth in the unique conditions and circumstances of our existence.  Prayer is the way we allow him to speak the words our hearts long to hear (Fr. Gary Caster in Prayer Everywhere: The Spiritual Life Made Simple).

August 16, 2018

It takes faith in God to bring about things that never could have been.  Faith helps us to connect the dots between the natural and the supernatural.  It is by faith that we understand God’s plan in our lives and in society and become ready to submit to it (Fr. Maurice Emelu in Our Journey to God).

January 21, 2019

Faith, however, is not only a blessed certainty; it is also a matter of practice and self-conquest.  You must therefore learn to speak to God as Father.  You must learn it from the attitude of Christ (Romano Guardini in The Lord’s Prayer).

“In many quarters Christian communities are once again embracing the ancient insight that the faith is a spiritual pathway, a life built on transformative practices of love rather than doctrinal belief” (Richard Rohr, OFM).

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Links of interest…  Beatific vision of God: heavenseeing face to face / what is…  Can we endure the light…  Catholic faith: A life-altering journey…  Creating a space for Jesus in the midst of duty & anxiety…  Deepen your friendship with God…  Don’t compartmentalize your faith (audio)…  Faith connected to everything / ensures contact with Godin the gospels / through love / what is…  Five ways to listen to God…  Getting out of God’s way & cooperating with his divine plan…  Hear God speaking to you…  Hope born of prayer & purification / proper place / that banishes fear…  How faith relates to hope & charity / our small actions can change the world…  Introduction to the devout life: ebook (St. Francis de Sales)…  Little book of holy gratitudelitany of Thanksgiving…  Listen for the Spirit in your prayer…  Miracle in the Whataburger parking lot…  Notre Dame Church (Mass times)…  Patron saint of missing socks, pray for us…  Stir the flame of faith…  What is Cursillo…  Visits to Jesus in the tabernacle: Hours and half-hours of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament: e-book…  the Word among us

WP posts…  Angels all around…  Angels keeping watch…  Mary’s miraculous medal…  Mary’s seven joys…  May flowers…  Notre Dame revisited…  Our Lady…  Picturing God…  Sorrowful redemption…  St. Agnes Church…  Sweet Jesus…  Two angels

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