My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,
Many times I have been asked about the importance of prayer in our lives as Catholics. Obviously, prayer is essential for us because it is our means of speaking to God, developing our relationship with God, and most importantly of discerning His will for us in our lives. Very simply, prayer is a dialogue with God who is our friend. Omnipotent as He is, He still wishes that we, His creatures, communicate with Him in our thoughts and especially affection for God who is our Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier.
The most common type of prayer for us is verbal prayer where we speak to God in formula that has come down to us from Jesus Himself in the Lord’s Prayer; from Scripture and the history of the Church in the Hail Mary; and from Scripture the Glory Be to the Father. All of these verbal prayers, plus the many prayers that have been written for us, help us to focus our attention to verbalize what is in our hearts.
We use verbal prayer, for example, in the Liturgy, which is the most common prayer, as well as the recitation of the Rosary and other devotions. These are the ways we normally speak to God and they are the ways in which we communicate our love for God.
There are other types of prayer that demand much more of our attention. For example, meditation as prayer allows us to focus our complete mental energy and thoughts about God. Many use a form of meditation called Lectio Divina which instructs us to read a passage of Scripture, place ourselves within the scene and then to use our imagination to pray the message of that Gospel passage.
There are many other books that assist us in meditation besides the Scriptures. The aim of meditation is to place ourselves in the presence of God and to avoid the many distractions that are our cares and worries, and to concentrate as best as we can in developing our relationship with God. The great saints who taught the ways of meditation, such as St. Teresa of Avila, remind us that there is not an automatic result of our desire for prayer. Rather, prayer takes effort and we gain strength step-by-step.
Many times we engage in prayer or petition asking God for something that we believe to be good. But we must always pray recognizing that God knows what is good for us and He will grant us what we need. The answers to our prayers do not always come as we expect. But we must remember that the most important prayer that we ever make is contained in the petition of the Our Father when we say, “Thy will be done.”
The acceptance of the will of God in our lives is one of the results of our prayer. Our prayer is not meant to change God, but rather it is meant to change us to accept what God knows is good for us, although it is hidden from our eyes. We may never know the answer to a particular prayer until we encounter God who is all loving and who is our Creator.
This week, Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, has asked the Church Universal to join in a global campaign in support of migrants and refugees which was launched on Sept. 27, sponsored internationally by Caritas Internationalis and in the U.S. by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholic Charities USA and Catholic Relief Services.
The Share the Journey campaign aims to engage the Church and others who are about migrants and refugees, around the world and in the United States. You can learn more about the campaign at https://justiceforimmigrants.org/caritas-share-the-journey-campaign/.
Through education and advocacy, the Campaign seeks to affect both personal feelings and opinions as well as public policy. It is a call to prayer, to reflection, and to action. Pope Francis launched the campaign by performing a symbolic gesture of reaching out to migrants and refugees and inviting others to do the same.
The Campaign asks our brothers and sisters throughout the U.S. to show their compassion and to Share the Journey with the millions of people across the globe who are fleeing poverty, oppression, war and disaster. Just as Jesus journeyed to share the Gospel of love and sacrificed for others, Catholics in the U.S. are being called to share the physical and emotional journey with migrants and refugees by extending the hand of dignity, love and support.
We ask that all Catholics begin a journey toward knowing and understanding those among us that need our help since we are all God’s children. An invitation to a week of prayer in support of migrants and refugees, the Sept. 27 launch of the U.S. campaign, Share the Journey, will be followed in the U.S. by a Week of Prayer and Action (Oct. 7-13) when parishes, schools, universities and other institutions and individuals across the country will join in prayer, education and sharing of information about migrants and refugees to support them locally and around the world.
We accompany the migrants and refugees on their journey by ourselves putting out into the deep recesses of prayer, which again aims at changing not the will of God, but the will of His creatures, especially towards migrants and refugees. Our Holy Father has composed a special prayer for this global migration campaign. Join me as I pray this prayer each day asking the Lord that the aims of the Holy Father’s intentions will be granted.
Adonai, Lord and Master,
Many are the journeys your people have taken:
Abraham’s journey led from fear to understanding;
Moses’ journey led from bondage to liberty;
The disciples’ journey led from death to new life.
Even today, your people journey –
Immigrants and refugees, pilgrims and nomads,
searching for hope,
searching for opportunity,
searching for peace,
searching for you.
Lord, I know that I too am called to journey.
Yet too many times, I have heard your call,
And my feet have remained unmoved.
Continue to call me
Beyond my comfort and into encounter.
And when I meet a companion on the road,
May we find you in each other’s embrace.
Let us share the journey.