An Hour a Day

Continuing the focus upon the essential nature of a stout prayer life, I recall a friary time.  We spent a week at a seminary in Minnesota.  Father David Mary worked with the seminarians in workshops, while we brothers were offered a week of Moral Theology lessons from a priest serving as head counselor and professor of the undergraduate sophomore class.  Our final Sunday, Father David Mary performed mass, providing an entertainingly inspiring homily for the young men starting their second year of undergraduate studies.  A main point father firmly established was that the young men at this early stage in their career must initiate a vigorous prayer life, a spiritual foundation.  He stressed an hour a day dedicated to personal prayer was essential.  The hour took precedence, never being justifiably missed.  It was a must.  The young men had to develop a rich interior life based upon daily one-on-one time with the Lord.  Before the Eucharist preferably, the aspiring priest must put aside lessons, reading, and concentrate upon Divine intimacy.  The Divine Office did not count.  The young men must ignite their own individual prayer life.  Once out in the world as a full-fledged priest, understanding Bishop Sheen’s insight that a priest is not his own, the young men would need that hour to strengthen themselves.  Later as a working priest, the hour of personal prayer must maintain imperative importance.  It would become their refuge, their solace and security, their place of comfort.  Without it they would be soldiers marching into battle naked and unarmed.  Under the strain of priestly life, it would be too late to develop the necessary prayer life if matters had not been tended to during seminary days.  The stress, responsibilities, and demands of the priestly life could only be countered by a strong prayer life.  As contemplatives living in the world, we must take example, comprehending that without a rigorous prayer life we are defenseless.  Without a prayer life we are not contemplatives.  Not a single day can be missed.  We are not part-time soldiers.  We are more than daily recipients of the Eucharist, or intelligent and articulate readers of books–knowledgeable collectors of religious information, more than a quoter of saints.  Full-time and fully engaged, we endure toward Christ, surrendering to faith, hope and charity through an uncompromising prayer life.. All this in order to serve God better, and thus our fellow man, including those trudging through the harsh strain of purgatory.


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