“Pray always without becoming weary”: A homily for the 29th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year C)

380e2-prayerOur readings today tell us that we must not grow weary in our lives of prayer.

The devil likes to attack us when we are tired. We must be on guard, in prayer.

Case in point: Moses in our first reading has his hands extended. It is a symbol of prayer, to extend your hands. It is why we priests extend our hands, and why folks at Christian music concerts naturally lift up and wave their hands.  Whenever Moses became tired, his hands dropped and the enemy began to win. But when his hands were extended, when he was praying, “Israel had the better of the fight.”

We must not grow tired in our lives of prayer.

How many of us spend more time on social media than on our lives of faith, than in prayer?

I have a vivid memory. When I was in sixth grade, I was on my bunk bed. I promised God I would pray every night before going to bed. (Of course, the practice had been habituated into me by my parents for my whole childhood–a reminder that the most important thing a parent does is teach his or her child friendship with God, how to pray.) God has helped me be faithful to my sixth grade promise.

We must pray every day.

There are so many ways to pray. Msgr is talking about the rosary today. The second reading talks about scripture. Those are two big helps to pray.

But I want to reflect with you about the four categories of Christian prayer. They spell CAPT, like the abbreviation of captain.

C – Contrition. With contrition, we come face to face with our sins. In the presence of the Lord, we consider our sins. There is virtue in sitting with our sins, looking squarely at them for a while. Because I think an awful lot of the time we just sin and move on, without thinking another time about it until the next time we do the same sin. The more we think about the times we’ve messed up, about how we hurt God and others, the less likely we will be to do it again.

A – Adoration. We adore God. God is always doing miracles. We adore him. Creation, the sacraments, the people in our lives; God has outdone himself. We adore him for it all. The other day I was at school bus school, just because I have this ridiculous desire to drive a bus. (Plus it will come in handy…) But at the end of the class, a woman came up and mentioned simply seeing a priest in the class made her realize it’s time to come back to church. We adore God for hatching up such wonderful plots! Who knows? Maybe a soul ill be saved because of my desire to drive a bus. God is doing miracles everywhere. We adore him for it all.

P – Petition. With petition, we pray with all our hearts for people. Msgr and I both have big lists of people we pray for. Lots of names on these lists. We should pray for people, lift them up to God. One day we will see how much good our prayers did for others. It will be beautiful!  We pray also for the suffering folks. I’ve been praying a lot for Haiti lately. And during this respect life month for an end to abortion. We petition God for these things. He answers in his way, and on his clock.

T – Thanksgiving. We thank God for all his blessings, for all the graces we have in our world and lives. We are deeply, deeply blessed. God is so good to us. Someone once suggested that, if a person utters only one prayer in his life–‘thank you’–it might just be enough. There is power in gratitude. And gratitude will change the world.

So I want to encourage you to do something new in prayer. Each day we ought to do a little of all four of those categories–some contrition, adoration, petition, and thanksgiving. A good way to do a holy hour (people often wonder what to do in one), is to do 15 minutes of each. And maybe the petition part we pray a rosary for people. Maybe during the thanksgiving part we read a psalm. But let’s shake up our lives of prayer a bit, let’s find some way before we leave Mass today that we might do something new in prayer. Maybe you pray ten minutes a day. Make it fifteen. Maybe you come to Mass each Sunday. What about a daily Mass? Maybe you haven’t given God much time recently in prayer; fix that. What if you commit to a holy hour in our adoration chapel?

Let’s thank God for the rich tradition of Christian prayer we have at our disposal, and for the Holy Spirit who helps us to pray from within!