How To Achieve Constant Prayer

Did you know that every part of our life is meant to be powered by prayer…everything!

Is that even possible?

Since “with God all things are possible” (Mt 19:26) , the answer is a resounding “Yes!”

How?

Well it starts with what we call “finite prayer.”

A finite prayer is one that has a beginning and an end. It’s active prayer. Examples would the rosary, a litany, or any spontaneous prayer.

But while it has starting and a stopping points, finite, active prayer is meant to lead us to something deeper – habitual, or constant, prayer.

Constant prayer is the name of the game, the golden goose of the spiritual life.

Quoting the ancient monk Evagrius Ponticus, the Catechism states “we have not been commanded to work, to keep watch and to fast constantly, but it has been laid down that we are to pray without ceasing” (2742, italics mine).

Of course, we’re all familiar with St. Paul’s admonition to “pray constantly” in 1 Thessalonians 5:17. As a kid I remember thinking, “Seriously, Paul? Not only are people going to think I’m nuts as I walk around muttering to myself, but multi-tasking is not natural to my gender.”

But before we knock Paul off of his high horse (again), let’s take a moment to see what we he means.

Constant prayer is not an act of prayer, so to speak. Otherwise we’d never be able to focus on our duties in life. It might even be dangerous! (Forget about texting, I’ve nearly wrecked my car on several occasions while attempting the rosary on the freeway.)

So what is Paul talking about?

He’s referring to a permanent attitude, one rooted in trustful surrender and merging of our will to God’s. It’s an inner peace that accepts whatever happens as God’s good will for our life.

Now don’t think he means we just sit back and do nothing. Rather, he means we have to develop an attitude of cheerful compliance founded on the knowledge that what God wants us to experience in life is best.

How do we attain this peaceful, permanent attitude of constant prayer? Again, primarily through finite prayer.

You see, constant prayer is fed by acts of finite prayer which operate on the “surface” of the soul.

Think of constant prayer as glowing embers down in your soul. They’re always hot, but not enflamed, so to speak.

Finite prayers are like little gusts of wind that come down, blowing across these embers, igniting a fire of love in our hearts that bursts into flame.

Finite prayers feed the flame so that we develop a life of constant prayer.

Of course, the reverse is also true.

Constant prayer feeds and fuels our acts of finite prayer so they become more focused and fruitful. And when we can establish a state of constant prayer, submitting ourselves gladly to God’s will, everything we do becomes an act of prayer.

God bless!

Matthew

P.S. I’m leading a pilgrimage to the Holy Land with Jim Caviezel, star of The Passion of the Christ!

We’ll also be joined by Fr. Don Calloway and John Michael Talbot! It’s going to be epic!

CLICK HERE for details!

 

 

P.P.S. If you’d rather go to Italy, I’m heading there on pilgrimage, too!

Join me in March 2019 for a time of deep spiritual renewal and amazing adventure in Rome, Assisi, Orvieto, LaVerna, and much, much more! CLICK HERE for details!

081: Kings, Prophets, & Popes

A Scriptural Response to the Church Crisis

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What should we do?

That’s the question that keeps coming up in my conversations and email exchanges.

What is the appropriate response of faithful Catholics to this ongoing crisis?

While some are leaving and others are all-out attacking, most of us are caught somewhere in the middle.

We’ve always thought of ourselves as faithful Catholics. We’ve always honored our priests and bishops. We’ve always been a bit awed by the papacy.

So we’re torn.

We want this all to be fixed, but don’t know what tools are really at our disposal. We’re not totally sure what attitude and posture should we take.

That’s what I want to address in this episode. And I’m going to do it with Sacred Scripture.

I think it gives us some pretty clear direction. So in this podcast we’ll discuss:

  • The Scriptural origins of the Catholic priesthood
  • Why it can never be “us” vs “them”
  • The role of the Holy Spirit in choosing a pope
  • Extremely important takeaways from the story of King Saul and David
  • The powerful tool used by the prophet Daniel
  • The end result we should all be praying for

Based on what’s going on, this is an important episode that will provide some rich food for thought as you discern and pray about your personal response to the crisis.

God bless you and keep the Faith always!

Matthew

 

P.S. HUGE ANNOUNCEMENT!

I’m leading a pilgrimage to the Holy Land with Jim Caviezel, star of The Passion of the Christ!

We’ll also be joined by Fr. Don Calloway and John Michael Talbot!

CLICK HERE for details!

 

P.P.S. Pilgrimage to Catholic Italy!

Join me in March 2019 for a time of deep spiritual renewal and amazing adventure in Rome, Assisi, Orvieto, LaVerna, and much, much more!

CLICK HERE for details!

 

Grab your FREE copy of my quick guide to deeper prayer 8 Ways To Jumpstart Your Prayer Life! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Dangers of War

The Lord dropped a spiritual bomb on me the other morning in adoration. And now I want to drop it on you.

Like a lot of you, I continue to struggle with anger in the midst of all the garbage going on in the Church. Daily revelations of new coverups, not to mention the confusing silence of Pope Francis in the face of serious allegations, continue to fuel my interior angst and fury. In fact, the more I think about it, the madder I get.

I would love to unleash Jesus with a serious whip, like when he cleansed the Temple (Matthew 21).

And while that’s not an entirely misguided desire in these often disgusting circumstances, there is a danger of which we must be aware.

While righteous anger is certainly justified, there comes a point in time in the midst of these kinds of situations when we have to take a step back interiorly. We have to dial back our passions and not let our resentments and rage overcome us.

We must engage the virtue of meekness.

“Meekness?” you ask. “Really?”

Yes! I’m well aware that these days “meekness” is a synonym for “weak.” The reality couldn’t be further from the truth. While Jesus was certainly meek, does anyone consider him a weakling?

Not if you’re sane.

Not only did he go all “Indiana Jones” in the Temple, but his entire life was ordered to voluntary suffering for our sake. If you think the guy who patiently endured incredible torture and an agonizing death on the Cross was some kind of namby-pamby, “he’s always so nice” kind of guy, you’re not reading the Gospel. Even his enemies must have respected what they viewed as incredible strength.

It was actually meekness.

On the Cross, in the midst of cruel agonies, he didn’t rage against those who put him there. He didn’t condemn them to hell. Instead, he prayed for them: ““Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do,” while they were gambling for his clothes.

Christ was meek.

And I’m not saying that he was simply “being silent and praying” like we’ve been told to do in these current circumstances. That’s not the essence of meekness. Christ wasn’t letting his executioners (or anybody else) off the hook.

It was totally the opposite.

He knew there would be dire consequences for their sin. He knew their eternity was at stake. That’s why his meekness was so necessary. It allowed him to see past the situation and the people causing him harm so as to pray for them, so as to save them.

And that’s what Christ is asking of us.

You see, the virtue of meekness helps us to master ourselves. In particular, it helps us to control our impulses to anger. It helps us to be calm in even the most infuriating circumstances. And this is imperative.

Why?

Because if you can’t think straight due to anger, you can’t see things in their true light. You can’t judge correctly about what’s going on and what to do. So meekness helps us see through our rampaging emotions and make wise decisions about how to act.

But it’s even deeper than that.

The only way we’re going to make it through this crisis is via a Church-wide move toward holiness. And by holiness, I mean sainthood.

Treading water isn’t enough. We need to get extremely serious about our spiritual lives. If that doesn’t happen, put a fork in the Church as we know it.

And part of that move toward sainthood means mastering our emotions. Because how can a person who is ruled by agitation and fury, pray? How can a person trembling with resentment enter into intimate conversation and communion with God?

They can’t. As 1 Kings 19:11 says, “the Lord is not in the earthquake.”

Meekness doesn’t crush righteous anger. It controls it. It quells it to the point where it doesn’t affect our intimacy with God. And if we’re not intimate with the Lord, there’s no way we’ll grow in sanctity. There’s no way we’ll lead others into the truth. There’s no way we’ll help heal our Church.

“Let us be very meek toward everyone,” says St. Francis de Sales, “and take care that our heart does not escape from our hands…Perfect equanimity, meekness and unalterable graciousness are virtues more rare than perfect chastity and are most desirable.”

In prayer, the Lord reminded me that while it’s okay to be furious with evil, if I want to be holy, I can’t be ruled by anger.

Yes, I have to fight for justice and truth in the midst of this demonic crisis. We all do. (In fact, I think the war is just beginning.)

But the best way to do it, is by cultivating meekness. So along with St. Francis de Sales, let’s all pray, “Trusting in You, O Lord, I will begin again, and keep the path of humility and meekness.”

God bless you.

Matthew

P.S. If you haven’t listened to it yet, you might want to check out Episode 80 of the Art of Catholic titled, On the Crisis in the Catholic Church: A Message of Hope.

P.P.S. Pilgrimage to Italy! Join me in March 2019 for a time of deep spiritual renewal and amazing adventure in Rome, Assisi, Orvieto, LaVerna, and much, much more!

Check it out here!

Grab your FREE copy of my quick guide to deeper prayer 8 Ways To Jumpstart Your Prayer Life!