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Why pray?

The story is told about a beggar who kept going back to a rich man to ask for money. The rich man always refused because of his principle that money should be earned. One day they agreed that he would give the beggar money if the latter painted his porch at the back of his house. When the beggar was done, the rich man handed him some money. But before leaving, the beggar said: “Sir, there is something I think you should know. It’s not a Porsche you’ve got there but a BMW.”

In today’s Gospel (Lk 18:1-8), Jesus tells His disciples about the necessity of praying always, and to be persistent and not become weary of prayer. Jesus teaches us all today to pray, to pray much, and to pray on. Let us listen to the Lord today who tells us to pray always, without becoming weary.

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“Ora et Labora.” Let us follow St. Benedict’s rule as we go through life. Admittedly, our tendency is to focus more on the labora (work) and forget or belittle the ora (pray). Sooner or later, we will come to realize that prayer matters, and that prayer is not useless. May we have little or no regrets that we prayed too little, too late.

And so it is that some people travel a long way in their journey toward worldly success, but are still far from the heart of God because they do not pray, they refuse to pray, or they have no time to pray. Let us make room for God in our lives. Let us give space for God in our hearts. It is pride that makes us think that life is all about us, and all about our work and achievements. Man, be not proud.

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I am writing this column at the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima on the 99th anniversary of Mama Mary’s appearance to the children Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco. One pilgrim shared with me how touched he was at seeing thousands of people from all over the world pray for hours and hours, braving the rain and the cold. At first, he said, he could not understand, and he even scoffed at the futility, the “stupidity,” of it all. During the evening procession, astounded by the ocean of lighted candles as far as the eye could see at the Marian Sanctuary, he broke down in tears, knelt down and asked for forgiveness for his pride, finally accepting his own “stupidity.”

Has it ever occurred to you that you received a blessing, or you pulled through a trial or a sickness, or you found peace and enlightenment, because you prayed, or because people were praying for you? More and more, I believe in the power of prayer that is said, as well as prayer that is shared.

Let us thank the Lord for people who have taught us to pray, and who have imbued in us the value of prayer. They prepared us to become strong and persevering in our journey. Many of them are gone now, but their effect on us remain. Maraming salamat po for the gift of prayer.

Let us give the gift of prayer to those who come after us. If we do not make an effort to do so, the next generation will be lost and absorbed in comfortable but shallow pursuits, and lives without direction, purpose, or cause.

St. Teresa of Calcutta once aptly said: “If we pray, we will believe; if we believe, we will love; if we love, we will serve.”

Sharing also with you this beautiful prayer of St. Teresa of Avila: “Let nothing disturb you, nothing frighten you. All things are passing; God alone is unchanging. Patience obtains everything; who possesses God wants nothing; God alone suffices.”

Think about this: “There are two kinds of being alone—solitude and loneliness. There are people who choose to spend their lives in solitude and have peace, and there are some people who are surrounded by so many people and activities, but still experience loneliness. May the cross be with us in our solitude and in our loneliness.”

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A moment with the Lord:

Lord, teach me to pray, to pray more, and to pray on. Amen.

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TAGS: alone, Loneliness, ora et labora, Prayer, solitude, St. Benedict, work
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