Persisting in Prayer

I think I’ve mentioned that I’m really, really happy to be back at our local parish, which is rock solid all around:  preaching, liturgy, music, the parish school, and so on.  OK, maybe they erred by letting me teach religious ed (given that I’m woefully unqualified), but getting it right on most counts is fantastic.  Even our permanent deacon, when he gives a the occasional homily (maybe once a month across all the masses, so if you usually attend a particular time you will probably go a couple of months without hearing him give a homily) is spot on, like today.

The focus of the homily was on prayer, and he used the readings as a springboard to talk about why persistence in prayer is so important, as well as some of the different types of prayer.  So, first, without belaboring the point, he used the first reading (Exodus 17:18-3, the story of Joshua successfully fighting the Amalekites while Moses kept his arms raised) as an illustration of the Catechism’s definition of prayer as the lifting of one’s heart to God (sorry, a paraphrase of a paraphrase).  He tied that to the Gospel’s parable of the widow and the unjust judge (Luke 18:1-8), and how she was persistent and got her answer.  He then went on to draw out the idea of prayer being answered “speedily” as really meaning “suddenly,” as in, out of the blue and seemingly to arrive quickly, even if we’ve had to storm heaven and persist in prayer for years and years.  Ultimately, of course, God answers in time, and according to his will.  Prayer makes us ready for the sudden response, whenever it comes.

He finished up by outlining a few different types of prayer (formal, informal, singing, lectio divina, etc.), and underscored that the most important thing is just to pray, regardless of the particular method we choose.

All in all, a solid homily.  Several people thanked him after mass, as did I.  I think we all subscribe to the school of thought of positive reinforcement for good homilies.  If nothing else, it lets the homilist know that his work is appreciated.