As we enter the Triduum, many of us are taking stock of the Lent we’ve had–and the resolutions to commit to prayer which we’ve likely made, broken, and re-committed to–and could be feeling more than a little discouraged. We know we are called to pray daily. We know it’s fruitful for us when we do it. But during unpredictable and tumultuous days, when so many urgent needs seem to demand our attention, it can be all too easy to let prayer time with God get squeezed out of our schedules.
Pope Francis always reminds us of the need to let go of our own agendas and prioritize God’s. One example is an Angelus address he gave in July 2021:
How many times this happens in the Church: we are busy, we run around, we think that everything depends on us and, in the end, we risk neglecting Jesus and we always make ourselves the centre. This is why He invites His disciples to rest a bit with Him on their own. It is not only physical rest, but also rest for the heart. For it is not enough to “unplug” ourselves, we need to truly rest. And how do we do this? To do so, we must return to the heart of things: to stop, to remain in silence, to pray so as not to go from the frenzy of work to the frenzy of times of relaxation. Jesus did not neglect the needs of the crowd, but each day, before anything else, he would withdraw in prayer, in silence, in intimacy with the Father. His tender invitation – rest a while – should accompany us. Let us beware, brothers and sisters, of efficiency, let us put a halt to the frantic running around dictated by our agendas. Let us learn how to take a break, to turn off the mobile phone, to contemplate nature, to regenerate ourselves in dialogue with God.
This isn’t easy to do–especially when many of us, even cradle Catholics, were never really taught how to pray, and have been led to approach prayer in many popular programs as an effort that primarily demands perseverance or strength in battle. Not getting the results we imagine we should? It’s because we aren’t asking hard enough, or are too distracted, or are–gasp–doing it wrong.
I know that for myself, I have sought renewal and rest in prayer, especially during very trying times. But that was difficult to find when my mind was crowded with complicated ideas about how we “should” pray (beyond Jesus’ guidance in giving us the words of the “Our Father”). If I was too distracted or thought I was not showing up enough, then I guiltily wondered, “Is God even listening?” It was only when I learned to trust that God always invites us to prayer and always listens and is present for us when we seek him with open hearts that I was able to be drawn into a routine of praying that was truly restful and renewing. It’s not perfect, but awareness of God’s abiding presence has brought peace and planted a desire to work personal prayer into my days in ways that programs, routines, and promises in the past never could.
That experience is why I’m excited to share this upcoming free event with you:
Join Sr. Kathryn Hermes, FSP, for a free mini-retreat called Abide in Me & I in You: A Retreat on the Presence of God. It’s hosted online on the SmartCatholics platform on Saturday, April 23, from 3-4pm EST. While the event is offered at no cost, proceeds from an optional $10 ticket will benefit relief efforts for Ukraine.
At this retreat, we’re going to learn about simple forms of prayer that push all our fears aside. Instead, we’ll focus on abiding in God in the lost practice of prayer where you allow Jesus to actually touch you, and abide in you. Find out how we can see the world differently when we are aware of the abiding presence of God–and how nothing can separate us from it! Come together with us to learn and ask questions, for about 30 minutes. You will also be able to chat and meet other members of the retreat one-on-one.
Then, you’ll be invited to continue with a nine-day retreat. Each day will share with you a different form of prayer that you can practice for 10-20 minutes each day. All of them help you do one thing: open up to the holy mystery of Our Lord. To abide in him, and him in you.
Register free here: https://smartcatholics.com/rsvp
The event is coordinated by SmartCatholics, the fastest-growing online community to support Pope Francis. It’s free of toxicity, trolls, and ads, and is building a culture of kindness and learning–including the Where Peter Is community, our new alternative to the comment box.
I truly believe that reframing our approach to prayer can help all of us discover prayer that is restful, calming, and gently calling us to abide quietly in the presence of God. Please consider joining us for this retreat during the Easter season.
Images: Courtesy SmartCatholics.com
Rachel Amiri is a contributor and past Production Editor for Where Peter Is. She has also appeared as the host of WPI Live. She is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame with degrees in Theology and Political Science, and was deeply shaped by the thought of Pope Benedict XVI. She has worked in Catholic publishing as well as in healthcare as a FertilityCare Practitioner. Rachel is married to fellow WPI Contributor Daniel Amiri and resides in St. Louis, Missouri, where they are raising three children.