praying plus living

When I was a kid I learned that I am supposed to pray without ceasing. Naturally, I scratched my head and wondered how I could and still have a life.

Now I am a Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration, which permits me to do just that–to pray always and still have a life, a really great life!

I can’t easily explain how it is that I pray always, but I’ll try.  It’s really a mystery, though, and it totally rocks.

My community is always in prayer.  For over 133 years, 24/7, two adorers have been praying before the Blessed Sacrament.  Our adoration chapel in La Crosse, Wisconsin is one of the holiest places on earth.  There’s so much power there.


 

Yet, I’m not there, technically. I mean, my body isn’t.  I am off  “on mission” teaching high school in a foreign land (Chicago’s south side).  The work I do gives me life and energy; it is a true blessing to get to know God at work in the hearts of youth.  Miracles are ordinary and I am so used to the devotion of my students that I forget to be inspired by their faith.

At times, the work I do wipes me out.  I become envious of those who are able to truly work eight-hour work days and have time to do the things in life that shouldn’t seem like extras:  growing and cooking one’s own food, making art and crafts, reading novels, writing letters.

Fortunately, I keep finding time for the “extra” of prayer.  The  rule of this life that I have committed myself to insists that I never get so busy that the spirit of prayer is extinguished.  It’s a mystery to me how that works, in the mess of all the labor and to-do lists.  I pause several times a day to just lift my heart in praise. I go to daily mass and read the ancient psalms out of the divine office.  And, I unite with my community in the adoration chapel in La Crosse.  Whether I am conscious of it or not, I am connected and this blesses me.

Last Saturday I went home and prayed with my sisters and, again, the power of the prayer blew me away. It was a different type of prayer this time, it was a huge commitment party. Sister Sarah, who also blogs here, professed her final vows. Congratulations Sarah!! 

Gathered together to celebrate Sister Sarah: Mary of the Angels Chapel, Sept. 24, 2011

I think every eye was dropping tears during the mass. I am pretty sure every heart was moved, inspired, and in awe.  God is so good, and it is so exciting when people say yes to the goodness with their entire lives!

And, I believe that many people were healed.  It’s a mystery to me, but it is a mystery that I shall cling to.  One of the great powers of prayer is that it heals and gives life.  On Saturday I went to mass with a back ache, yet during the commitment celebration I realized my back felt completely better.  It’s a simple thing, but I am so, so grateful!

Turns out, having a life and praying without ceasing is not too tough after all.  The powerful prayer heals me and blesses me, and leaves me in awe. It’s a mystery how it works but it’s a mystery that I’ll hold.   As I hold the mystery I remain aware: I am really glad to be part of it all.

4 thoughts on “praying plus living

  1. “It’s a mystery to me how that works, in the mess of all the labor and to-do lists. I pause several times a day to just lift my heart in praise. I go to daily mass and read the ancient psalms out of the divine office. And, I unite with my community in the adoration chapel in La Crosse. Whether I am conscious of it or not, I am connected and this blesses me.”

    AMEN!

    These words resonate deeply with a hunger, and knowledge, that I was reflecting on this morning: Unity in prayer.

    In my life as teacher, non-profit director, writer, researcher and now as a new mom and wife, I have craved structure; a daily routine that was anchored in prayer and made way for praise and contemplation before God. The proximity of the Visitation Sisters to my classroom in north Minneapolis created a pathway for prayer, and simultaneously, a kind of habit of joining them in the liturgy of the hours. Across the Mississippi River from the sisters, I am reminded today that I can still join them and do join them in lifting my heart; it’s just from my current post (right now: in a coffee shop next to the Macalester campus.)

    Thanks for your words, Sr. Julia. And blessings upon Sr. Sarah and the rest of your dear community! You pray unceasingly for Love, and because way we are all bound by the Divine, your prayers are for the world.

    Your friend in Minnesota,
    Melissa

  2. Yes!
    I think Henri Nouwen said once (something like) there are two essentials things that happen in community: celebration and forgiveness. We celebrate the God in one another and we forgive each other for not being God.
    Celebrations just ooze love and remind me of the face of God!
    And thanks for the great pic! I hadn’t seen that yet!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s