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Monday, February 12, 2007

Pray without ceasing . . . and may the peace of Christ rejoice in your hearts

I was looking for something entirely different, and in any case was supposed to be looking for work, when I came across this. It's in translationese. The "good grief, people, stop being so beardy" reaction probably reflects what most people feel on reading "we're so Catholic" texts; thus we have a lesson on prayer, and on the importance of ceding everything but the essential in order not to make the essential unacceptable. How useful. I quote now the bit that at the moment I like best.
Just as a natural virtue that is aspired to can only be achieved by the conducive means, so also this holy work requires some nearly indispensable rudiments: a degree of quiet; freedom from cares; avoidance of learning about and spreading the "news" of things going on, the "giving and taking" as the Fathers put it; self discipline in all things; and an overall silence which stems from these things. Moreover, I don't think this persistence and habit will be unattainable for devout people who take an interest in this holy activity. The good habit of a regular prayer time, morning and evening, always about the same time, would be a good beginning.
With surety we have emphasized perseverance as the most indispensable element in prayer. Rightly it is stressed by St. Paul, "Continue steadfastly in prayer."(Col. 4:2) In contrast to the rest of the virtues, prayer requires effort throughout our entire lifetime, and for this reason I repeat to those who are making the attempt not to feel encumbered, nor to consider the need for endurance as a failure in this sober-minded work.