“The more the heart of man is expanded by the love of God and of his neighbor, and the more his meditations, his fervent prayers, his just aspirations, his humility, and his generosity have opened his soul to grace–the more elevated and greater is the grace that God the all-powerful will bestow upon him.” –From “Sermon in a Sentence: A Treasury of Quotations on the Spiritual Life; Vol. 5: St. Thomas Aquinas”, p 67. Selected and Arranged by John P. McClernon.
I know I am one of many who wishes and desires for more piety. Daily prayers, especially when we are burdened by so many other duties of our states of life, can seem to our tired eyes to be yet another chore to cross off the list. “Oh, I cannot fall into bed now, I’ve got to say my evening prayers.” “After our Rosary, oh my…I still have to eat supper and do 3 pages of homework, and it’s already 9:30…” I’m sure these and similar thoughts cross our minds on occasion, perhaps even more than occasionally. Now, during my spring break in college, I am enjoying a luxury that is quite rare–no work and no classes means I have all the time in the world to give to devotions and prayers, without a second thought as to how late it is or what work is left to be done. I look ahead with sadness to the next week, when I know all of my obligations will return and prayer time will be again severely limited.
But even when next week comes, my obligation to daily prayers does not disappear. True, each day this week I may get the opportunity to pray more decades of the Rosary or spend more time on meditation, but next week my obligation to pray at least 5 decades of the Rosary and reflect on a sentence-sermon remains. Should I only take pleasure in these obligations now, while I have the time to give to them freely? How should I go about these obligations when I have other duties standing behind me, calling my name?
I think one of the ‘tricks’ of true piety is in how we view our religion’s daily duties. If we view them through sleepy eyes with disdain, that is how we will treat them. We will see them as a chore, a punishment, an obstacle to what we really want to do–rest. But…what if we viewed our prayers as the thing we most desire? What if our prayers became our rest? If we look at them through the eyes of our Catholic sense, we know this is already true. Let us take the daily Rosary, for example. What must we do to approach it the right way? We must clear our mind of all but God–we must lay aside our troubles and cares, lay them at His feet and at the feet of Our Lady, and offer up praises, sweet-smelling roses, making little chaplets of them to crown the heads of Our Lady and her Divine Son. What else is this but the sweetest of rests! What a gracious God we have Who calls us from the strains of our daily labors for Him to this sweet repose, where we lay down our working tools and instead pick up the beads of the Rosary, all to offer praises and petitions and lose ourselves, for a little while, in the greatness of the Rosary’s holy mysteries! Added to that, we also have the promises Our Lady has made to those who are devoted to her Rosary, and the many indulgences attached to its recitation.
So, why do we ‘torture’ ourselves by seeing our daily prayers as something other than what God intended them to be? Let us think of them as the sweetest of rests, resting in God’s presence and the presence of Our Lady, making them very happy with our chaplets of praise and love for them. What better way could we spend our time? And with so little time that they ask of us, how can we not freely give it? The more we come to God with love like this, the more He will reward us with the graces we need to persevere in this love. True, consolations will not always come, and there will be days where we feel our prayers are dry and distracted. But as long as we are willing and desirous of this loving and pious attitude, Our Lord and Lady will not abandon us. And with time and patience and perseverance, our tired eyes will behold the beads of the Rosary and the texts of our daily prayers with tenderness and relief, knowing that that is where our true rest lies.