Matthew 6:5-6 on prayer is used as reflection in the season of Lent.
While it cannot be denied that Catholics pray communally at Mass, devotions, novenas, at prayer meetings such as this one and Christian meditation but, how many of us truly cultivate daily personal prayer as a way of Christian life. In our present way of life, personal prayer is becoming more and more difficult to cultivate due to busy lifestyles, less and less frequency when family members pray together. We may pray when we have special needs. Some believe that “action/doing” is more important than praying (read Matthew 25:35-40). Prayer being structured may prove challenging as life is rhythm and spontaneous. When prayer becomes an accessory rather than principal, it will not be given importance.
Why is it important to pray. Scripture tells us the apostles and disciples of Jesus learned the importance of prayer whether it is done on their knees, while walking, in silence or with tears. It also tells us that Jesus prayed and taught them how to.
When we cultivate a personal prayer life, we live a life of grace. The “Didache” which means “Teaching” written around 90AD describes the 2 aspects of prayer; vertical prayer (prayer focused on God) and horizontal prayer (help given to others). Cultivating and practising these two aspects should be part and parcel of Christian life. They offer balance and harmony. Read about St Theresa of Avila, a doctor of the Church, a Carmelite nun, who after 29years of a ritualistic prayer life was awakened spiritually after having a vision of a bust of Jesus speaking to her. She wrote many books including distractions at prayer and how these can lead to sins and how to avoid.
No one can say that prayer life is easy especially when we live in an “instantaneous” and “DIY” culture which demands quick answers. When we do not find quick answers to our prayers, we try to look for the answers elsewhere. Today, it is often the main reason why a person leaves the church is he/she has given up on personal prayer.
3 things on cultivation of personal prayer life
Prayer is not only a Lenten theme but a Christian one. Prayer is essential if we want to live with God and community.
A quote by Jean-Baptiste Chautard in 1935 - Physical work is hard, Study is harder and Prayer is the hardest.
(Report and Photos by Kenna Lau)
(28 Feb, 9 Mar, 16 Mar, 23 Mar, 30 Mar)
In conjunction with 50th Anniversary of Our Mother of Perpetual Help Parish, Ipoh (1972-2022) and as a kick-start of our ministry's activities after 2 years of hiatus due to Pandemic MCOs, a Charismatic Mass followed by Healing Service was held on Monday 28th February 2022. This is part of the Lenten Journey Programme organised by OMPH-CCR.
Despite the rain, about 150people participated in this Mass and healing service. It started at 7pm with praise and worship followed by Mass at 7.30pm. Mass was celebrated by our parish priest, Rev Fr Patrick Massang. In his homily, he reminded the congregation to give up all that were tying them down (Gospel 1 Peter 1:3-9) and to trust with faith in God's will in His healing according to His time and to allow Jesus to be close in administering His peace. There is no physical or social distancing with Jesus.
After the Eucharist, a healing service of anointing with oil of sickness (following health protocols) was administered on those who came. Fr Philip Lai, our assistant parish priest, came to assist in the healing service. Covid 19 prevention guidelines do not permit the laying of hands and individual praying over in close proximity.
We now look forward to entering the Lenten Journey retreat conducted by Rev Fr Joseph Stephen on Wednesdays at 7pm:
9th March - HOLINESS;
16th March - FASTING;
23rd March - PRAYER;
30th March - ALMSGIVING.
For more on Sybil Kathigasu, view "Why is Sybil Kathigasu's legacy in tatters?".
A) Charismatic Mass & Healing Service, 28 February
(Above Report and Photographs from Kenna Lau)
Address: Church: 1 Jalan Serindik; Redemptorists Community: 19-21 Jalan la Salle; 31400 Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia; Tel: (60) 05 5458220; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; FaceBook: https://m.facebook.com/OMPHipoh/
D) Talk on "Prayer" by Fr. Joseph Stephen, C.Ss.R., 23 March
E) Talk on "Almsgiving" by Fr. Joseph Stephen, C.Ss.R., 30 March
Above article by Kenna Lau was extracted from "Herald Malaysia English e-Paper', Pg 4.
C) Talk on "Fasting" by Fr. Joseph Stephen, C.Ss.R., 16 March
Fasting is one of the three practices of Lent. Fasting is not about losing weight or something similarly superficial. Fr. Joseph Stephen spoke on how fasting must lead us to holiness and for the fast to have spiritual meaning. Matthew 6:16-18 tells us what is fasting.
Fasting was not a Christian practice but a Jewish tradition. Jesus being a Jew embraced this culture. Here are some reasons why Jews fast:-
1. Mourning - Jews fasted for their troubles, for their community, for relief during natural disasters. Similarly, we Christians can fast for parish renewal, nation going through a difficult time, a family situation. The Book of Judges describes how the Jews fasted and mourned while in exile and God brought them back to their own land and here they embraced other gods, and God sent them to exile again. Again they mourned with fasting and God brought them out of exile. The cycle goes on.
2. Repentance - Jews also fasted because of the need to repent (change). We, too are constantly struggling with repentance in the following as described in the Confessions of St Augustine:
i) The ability to love oneself - the need of repentance to accept ourselves for whom we are so that we can have peace. Anger and unhappiness stems from the inability to love oneself.
ii) To love God - can be challenging as we have a tendency to distant ourselves from God. Repentance is needed.
iii) To love our neighbour - may be the most challenging and yet we are called by Christ to do so. Constant repentance is needed to do this.
3. Atonement - Jews fasted for their sins, for their struggles in life, when needing to make important decisions, e.g., Marriage partner, study course for their children, career move, etc.
Before we go into a fast, let us ask ourselves, why do we want to fast. We are to fast with an understanding, for a certain intention (could be for oneself, for family or friend, for community, for nation, a cause). Only then, can we grow in holiness. Fasting is a desire for God to help us with our intentions such as cleansing of sin, breaking of a bad habit, overcoming shortcomings, discernment; growing in spirituality.
How to fast? (i) Start slowly (ii) Tell someone (not the world) that you are fasting so that the person will support and respect your fast (iii) Make a prayer commitment when you begin your fast.
Though the Church introduces fasting through the 40 days of Lent, we can do fasting as a regular practice so that it can become part and parcel of our lives. Fasting with intention together with prayer and reflection will enable us to grow in holiness.
(Report and Photos by Kenna Lau)
B) Talk on "Holiness" by Fr. Joseph Stephen, C.Ss.R., 9 March