"And we urge you, beloved, to admonish the idlers, encourage the faint-hearted, help the weak, be patient with all of them. See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." -- 1 Thessalonians 5:14-18
PRAY WITHOUT CEASING. So this is what it means. Last Saturday's session at LRSS was especially illuminating. Wow!
Yes, I know that in real life and in his letters to the faithful (e.g. Acts 9:32, 41; 2 Corinthians 1:1; Ephesians 1:1; Philippians 1:1; Jude 1:3), St Paul had frequently addressed his audience as "saints" (or "holy ones", in the NAB version). Yes, I know that we are to give thanks always. Yes, I know about Philippians 4:8. But I've always associated "praying unceasingly" with constant prayer, verbal (e.g. "Lord, have mercy on me a sinner.") or non-verbal (e.g. a turning of our hearts towards God). But the perpetual (or persistent) act of will to love -- "do good", "give thanks"... "think about whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, gracious, worthy of praise... in others" -- as "unceasing prayer" because we are all "holy ones" (kinda like "innocent until proven guilty, even so...")? This is new.
"Brothers and sisters: Do we need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you or from you? You are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by all, shown to be a letter of Christ ministered by us, written not in ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets that are hearts of flesh." -- 2 Corinthians 3:1-3
Fr C. GAVE an excellent sermon at St Ignatius last Sunday, in a special ritual preparing some 40 catechumens for the rite of election next Saturday. Wow! Candidates preparing for baptism (and not just the baptised) are "letters of the Spirit of the living God, written not on tablets of stone but on tablets that are hearts of flesh"! So they are.
Yes, we are all called to be holy, "holey" as we actually are. Not new, but enough to make one draw a deep breath. "May I be found worthy." Christ is the bridegroom of "the Church", which is made up of its members. Not new again, but how we need to be reminded of these over and over again. It's once more an exhortation to turn and turn again towards God, not just in pious thoughts but in living witnesses which begin with "unceasing prayer" -- charitable thoughts towards all always, putting others before self -- "a loving response to a loving God, not out of a fear of hell or a desire to gain heaven".
There are times of which i am glad that i had followed the promptings of the Spirit. There are also times where i had ignored His soft voice, of which i am sorry. May i be more attentive and obedient to your wise promptings, our loving Lord. Afterall, you have given your life for us while we are still sinners. Take this heart of stone and replace it with a heart of flesh!