“The prayer of him that humbleth himself, shall pierce the clouds: and till it come nigh he will not be comforted: and he will not depart until the Most High behold (Ecclesiasticus 35: 21).”
Prayer is the ultimate gift. Its swiftness surpasses the speed of light as it moves from the heart of the suppliant to the Heart of the Divine. No human construct can compare with this acute form of communication. Human longings are transformed by the Spirit into a reality that is intelligible to God alone. Scripture assures us:
“In the same way, the Holy Spirit too comes to the aid of our weakness, for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings. And the One Who searches hearts knows what is the intention of the Spirit, because He intercedes for the holy one’s according to God’s Will (Romans 8: 26-29).”
Prayer is the voluntary movement of the human soul in response to Divine Love. It is sublime and efficacious.
St. Therese of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face once stated:
“For me, prayer is a surge of the heart, it is a simple look toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy (Manuscrits and Autobiographies, C25r).”
When one offers to pray for another, it is a tremendous gift; when one offers his or her very life in the service of contemplative prayer, the gift is incomparable.
Today, on the Feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Mother in the Temple of Jerusalem, it is fitting that we should celebrate the vocations of those cloistered and monastic men and women who dedicate their lives in prayerful service to the members of the Body of Christ. Pro Orantibus Day was instituted by Blessed Pope John Paul II in 1997 as an ecclesial event to be annually observed worldwide on November 21. Pro Orantibusliterally translates to: “For those who pray.” In essence, we are offered an opportunity to offer a measure of prayer for those who spend their lives praying for us.
Today, the entire Church pauses for a moment of gratitude for those hidden religious whose prayers truly are vital to the health and well-being of the Body of Christ. These men and women live the exhortation to “pray without ceasing.”
Origen once stated:
“He ‘prays without ceasing’” who unites prayer to works and good works to prayer. Only in this way can we consider as realizable the principle of praying without ceasing (Origen, De orat. 12: PG 11, 452C, Catechism of the Catholic Church, p. 658).”
As we honor Our Blessed Mother today, contemplating her purity, sacrifice and prayer, it is appropriate that we should also honor the contemplative religious whose daily labor of love sustains the work of the Universal Church. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that “Mary is the perfect Orans (pray-er), a figure of the Church (p. 644, 2679).” Let us reciprocate the gift of prayer, both by thanking God for the contemplative religious who pray for us, and by invoking Our Lady’s intercession. Let us ask Her to protect their vocations by holding them tenderly to Her Immaculate Heart, and to send new laborers to the vineyard of Her Divine Son.
Please join me in prayer for our monastic and cloistered contemplative Religious, including their seculars, tertiaries and oblates. Together let us thank God for all who pray.
Happy Pro-Orantibus Day 2012!
Ad Jesum per Mariam,