As we begin our homily series, “The Love of Christ Urges us On”, we do so with great confidence and a

great joy. Our confidence and our joy comes from one of the desires of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus: His desire to set the world on fire with the fire of His love. The whole purpose of our homily series is a turning towards Jesus together and asking Him: Lord, please show us how to bring this fire of love from Church to our homes, schools, work and neighborhoods so that the flame of Your Love might permeate every aspect of our lives! Our main resource text for this series on “Strong Reliance on Daily Prayer” is the Catechism of the Catholic Church. For our first homily, we sat quietly in the lap of Holy Mother Church as she spoke to us about prayer. The first paragraphs we looked at were paragraphs 2558 through 2565.


The first thing Mother Church spoke to us about is the right order to the life of faith. We find this beautifully laid out in paragraph 2558. The first step in the life of faith is to believe: to believe that your Father loves you so much that He has given you His Son! Once you believe in His love for you, coming to Church on Sunday becomes a celebration of that love. As we celebrate more deeply the love of the Father, we strive to live our lives for Him. One of the ways we live our life for Him is through a vital and personal relationship with Him and that relationship is known as prayer. We believe, we celebrate, we live, and we pray: that is the right order of faith!


As we continued to listen to our Mother speak, she spoke of the gift and the wonder of prayer. As we turn to the Lord in prayer, we discover His strong thirst for our love. Our Lord loves to hear our voice. He loves when we share our lives with Him. If your children came home from school and didn’t say a word to you; if at dinner, they remained silent; if they went to bed without saying “Good night, mommy; good night, daddy,” then you

would be hurt and worried about your children. The same is true of our Lord: when we don’t turn to Him and speak with Him every day and throughout every day of our lives, He worries about us and is hurt when His love isn’t met with love.


Prayer comes from the heart. If our heart is far from the Lord, then we will not experience the fullness of the life of prayer and even risk praying in vain. Mother Church is teaching us that our heart and its spiritual health is a priority for a healthy life of prayer. Through prayer, we experience our Good and Loving Father reaching out to us and inviting us into His presence. Prayer is a bridge that allows our Lord to draw near to us so that we may live our lives in His presence.


As a child, no one ever taught me how to pray. At that time, we didn’t even pray grace before meals. Yes, we

went to church every Sunday, but no one ever said to me: Michael, our Lord loves to hear your voice! Speak with Him! Share your life with Him. Once I got to Middle School, a catechist tried to teach us how to pray. I was

afraid. Okay, what if I speak to God, but what if He doesn’t reply. I was so afraid of silence that I didn’t try to

pray. Once I got to a Catholic High School, I became more aware of prayers and about prayer in general, but still, no one taught me how to pray. It was during my freshman year at the University of Michigan that I first

discovered the wonder and gift of prayer. I’ve shared with you how my hearing a young college student speak boldly about Jesus, as Lord and Savior of our Lives, as One who loves us deeply and desires to be in communion with us, that I was led to kneel on the floor of my dorm room in West Quad and with tears of joy welcome Jesus into my life. Once I believed in His love for me and encountered Him, going to Mass become a joy, I saw it as a celebration of His love and presence. This experience then led to me wanting to live my life for Him, and one of the greatest consolations was the gift of prayer, knowing I could speak with Him and He could speak with me. Do you see how my experience confirms what Holy Mother Church just taught us about the right order? First, I believed in His love, then I celebrated His love at Holy Mass, then I desired to live my life for Him and I learned that prayer was a precious way to do that! At first, it was very difficult. If you asked me to spend fifteen minutes in Church in silence I would have said, “you’re nuts!” It took someone to guide me and coach me for me to learn how to be faithful and go deeper with prayer. It was recommended that I begin by setting a timer on my phone for fifteen minutes and to turn my phone over. I would sit quietly in Church until the timer went off. That was a good start. For those of you who have had a similar experience, as we move forward, we will be helping you to take that next step towards discovering the wonder of prayer.


Remember, we have embarked on this journey because we want to learn how to allow the flame of Christ’s love to permeate every aspect of our lives. Prayer becomes a spiritual insulation of our homes and lives. A life of prayer will protect the fire of God’s love from being extinguished in our hearts and homes. As we move forward, I want to give you the blueprint for our plans to insulate our homes. The plan is going to involve structure and spontaneity. I won’t say much now, but just want to introduce the themes. A vibrant prayer life is going to have its own structure and spontaneity.


When I led our Catechist retreat, I invited them to share some of the things that are a part of their prayer life that bring them joy and peace. Here are the fruits of their sharing. Circle one of the following recommendations and commit to faithfully embracing it!

  • Turn off radio in the car and use drive time as prayer time
  • Each day, as you notice something beautiful in creation, pause and say, “Thank you!” to Jesus
  • Place a reminder at your work place: “If you’re having a bad day, pray!”
  • When you are waiting in line at the bank, grocery store, etc.: pray your rosary or simply pray as you wait
  • Acquire a monthly subscription to “The Word Among US” or “Magnificat”: they offer scripture readings, prayers, and food for thought for each day of the week
  • Put a prayer rock on your pillow, or a rosary or crucifix. Don’t put your head on that pillow until you have concluded your day with prayer
  • Acquire a praise and worship CD to turn drive time into prayer and praise time
  • When you hear a siren, stop for a moment to pray for those who might be hurt and the first responders
  • Memorize a verse from the psalms or some other book in Scripture and pray with it throughout the day

Have a blessed week, pray for each other.

Fr. Michael