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29th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year C

Saint Teresa of Calcutta (aka Mother Teresa) once said that ‘Prayer is the oil that keeps the lamp of faith burning brightly’. So, prayer is essential for fuelling our faith. This is because prayer opens us up to the transforming, life giving presence of God in a more deliberate and focused way, giving us insight as well as strength.

Yet prayer can be so difficult! First off, finding the time to even start it; there are so many other things to do. And then there are the distractions when we have managed to find a bit of time for prayer; both internal and external ones!

There’s a story about St Bernard when he was riding his horse up into the Alps to give a retreat, and as he passed a farmer along the road, he heard a loud grunt. He stopped to look down at the him, and the farmer remarked, “I envy you, with nothing to do but pray while I have to kill myself working in this rocky soil.” Bernard said, “Well, praying can be even harder work than digging that rocky soil.” “I don’t think so!” the man said. “With that beautiful horse and the gorgeous saddle, what do you know of hardship?”

“Yes, I suppose it is a beautiful horse…it hadn’t really caught my attention to be honest with you” replied Bernard. “I’ll tell you what, if you can say the Lord’s Prayer from beginning to end without taking your mind off it, I’ll give you this horse.” “That’s so generous of you,” the man said; and he began praying, “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name...do I get the saddle too?”

Prayer can sometimes feel like we’re swimming against the tide, and that’s when we tend to give up. No wonder the scriptures are urging perseverance this weekend, especially with Jesus’ words of encouragement in the gospel to “pray continually and never lose heart.” Persistent prayer, as advocated by today’s gospel, could easily be misunderstood as a means of trying to control God, which is not the case. Prayer is an act of love whereby we hand over our lives (and all the drama that goes with it) to God. Therefore, judge your prayer not so much by the absence of struggle, but by the presence of your love’s resolve to seek God with all your heart, mind and soul.

Have a prayerful week!

Fr Brett

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