prayer and Jesus

Now, at this point, let’s discuss, “The Mystagogia of Prayer”. MYSTAGOGIA, it’s an awesome sounding word, very intimidating. Mystagogia is defined as a deepening of our understandings in the mysteries of our faith and their impact on our lives. Whether we are newly baptized, or have been baptized for a long time, this time after Easter is a great time for all of us to immerse ourselves in the investigation of what it means to be a Catholic Christian. The early Church understood that many of the recently baptized needed time for the mysteries and sacraments, which they received, to “sink in” and mature. The seed of their faith had to be nurtured and protected. Their awareness of these things had to grow. Our awareness, also, has to grow. So if we are discussing Mystagogia of Prayer, we are discussing a deepening of our understanding of prayer, and how it flows into our lives as Catholic Christians.

What is Prayer? Back in the mid 1940’s, prayer was defined as, “The lifting up of the mind and heart to God.” That definition is still viable in today’s world. We speak of people having a “meeting of the minds”, or a “heart to heart talk”. These are ways of describing two people on the “same wave length”, understanding each other, really “in sync” with one another. The definition of prayer, namely, lifting up of the mind and heart to God, is nothing other than our speaking openly and honestly with God, and listening in our hearts for His reply.

The Mass is the highest form of prayer in which we can participate. We dispose ourselves, or prepare ourselves by listening to words from the Bible. The sections chosen will have a unified theme. It is about that theme, the priest or deacon will speak to us in the homily. The homily is to both acquaint us with the readings and to help us understand how they can be applied to ourselves in our daily life. We then offer (the Offertory) our daily life, the actions of our day, along with Jesus, to our Heavenly Father. The Consecration of the Mass is our following Jesus’ command to “Do this in memory of Me”. We have attached our works to the bread and wine that is being offered. “This is My Body”, and “This is My Blood”, the sacrifice to God is made anew. At the Great Amen, focusing on what has been done, we say our “YES” that we understand and agree with the priest’s words of “..through Him, With Him and In Him, all glory and honor is yours, almighty Father…” We, our actions of the day, together with Jesus’ sacrifice are given to God. We know that it is only through, with and in Jesus our works can become meaningful to God. We then receive our Lord in communion and quietly, in the silence of our heart, we listen, to God’s reply.

We have defined what prayer is. Don’t get lost in technicalities. There are different ways to pray to God. Don’t adhere to rigid standards. All are a means to guide us, to assist us. If we dance and don’t listen to the music and only focus on where our feet should move to, we are not dancing we are walking like a robot. If we propose marriage to someone and keep looking at a cheat sheet to tell us what to say, we won’t be getting married anytime soon. We don’t need a guide book to show us how to speak our love to our parents, or our children, or our significant other. We speak from our heart. We let the emotions that well up inside us, the thoughts that occupy our mind and heart, we let these frame our words to reveal our inner selves.

So too, talking to our Father in Heaven, we must speak from our heart. Here though, we have a significant advantage. God already knows us, knows our thoughts, knows our problems, knows our fears and worries. He knows what we want to say; but He waits for our free will to come into play. We must voice our problems, admit their existence, express our love and willingness to follow His decrees. In short, trust in Him.

And so, we pray. We might use formally worded prayers, like the Apostles Creed, the Our Father, the Hail Mary, and the Act of Contrition. Or we might say the Rosary. A mantra type of prayer repeating Our Father’s and Hail Mary’s while meditating on the various mysteries and their impact on our lives. We might go to Mass during the week days. Remember, the Mass is the greatest prayer we can participate in. We can utilize all of these forms of prayer throughout the day.

Our entire day can and should be a prayer. We say in the Morning Offering, “I offer You my prayers, works, joys and sufferings”. That pretty much covers the entire day. Everything we do, how we treat people throughout the day, where we allow our thoughts to go, all the times we smile, all the times we give people the opportunity to smile, all the hurt feelings we get that day, all the times we alleviate someone’s hurt feelings. Everything, all of this, we offer to You, Oh God. Our day, then, becomes a prayer. How good of a prayer it is, is up to us.