So many times we send “messages to the people we love, let’s also do it with the Lord”. In order to be “in tune” with Him and not allow our faith to “grow cold” – even when we are focused on many urgent but secondary things – Pope Francis suggested this Sunday “a wise spiritual practice”: ejaculatory prayers.
If the Lord came to earth today: would he find someone who would dedicate time and affection to him, who would put him first? This is the question that Pope Francis raised at noon this Sunday, October 16, the XXIX in ordinary time, when reflecting, before the Marian prayer of the Angelus, on the Gospel of the day. This is how his speech began:
The Gospel of today’s Liturgy concludes with a question that worries Jesus: “When the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Lk 18,8). It would be like saying: when I reach the end of the story – but, we can think, also now, at this moment of life – will I find a little faith in you, in your world?
“It is a serious question”, affirmed the Holy Father who, continuing with his reflection, referred to what the Lord would see today, namely, “many wars, poverty and inequalities”, “great achievements of technology, modern means and people who always go fast, without ever stopping”. He then added, to the question mentioned, a more specific one:
What would I find in myself, in my life, in my heart? What priorities would she see?
Often, the Pope noted, “we concentrate on many urgent but not necessary things, we deal with and concern ourselves with many secondary realities; and perhaps, without realizing it, we neglect what counts most and let our love for God cool down, cool down little by little. But Jesus offers us “the remedy to warm a lukewarm faith”: prayer.
Yes, prayer is the medicine of faith, the restorative of the soul. But it needs to be a constant prayer. If we have to follow a cure to be better, it is important to comply with it well, take the medicines in the correct way and at the right time, with constancy and regularity.
Constancy and regularity: the Holy Father underlined that this “applies to everything in life”:
Let’s think of a plant that we have at home: we have to feed it constantly, every day, we cannot soak it and then leave it without water for weeks! All the more reason for prayer: one cannot live only through strong moments or intense encounters from time to time and then “go into lethargy”. Our faith will dry up. It needs the daily water of prayer, it needs time dedicated to God, so that He can enter our time, our history; of constant moments in which we open our hearts, so that He can pour love, peace, glory, strength, hope into us every day; that is, nourish our faith.
This is why, Francis continued, Jesus today speaks to “all his disciples”, “not just some!” – he underlined -. And he remembered what the Lord says in today’s Gospel: “It is necessary to pray always without giving up” (v. 1). Then raising the situation of someone who might object that he does not have time to pray, because he does not live “in a convent”, he explained that “a wise spiritual practice” can be applied, a little forgotten today, that our elders, especially grandmothers, “they know well”: the “ejaculatory prayers”. They are “very short prayers, easy to memorize, that we can repeat often during the day, during various activities, to be ‘in tune’ with the Lord”, said the Holy Father, who proposed some examples:
As soon as we get up we can say: “Lord, I thank you and I offer you this day”. This is a little prayer. Later, before an activity, we can repeat: “Come, Holy Spirit”; and between one thing and the other pray like this: “Jesus I trust in you, Jesus I love you” Little prayers that keep us in touch with the Lord.
After these suggestions, the Pope made it clear how many times we send “messages” to the people we love, exhorting us to do so with the Lord “so that the heart remains connected to Him” and inviting us not to forget to “read their answers” because He “always answers”.
Where do we find them? In the Gospel, that we must always have it at hand and open it every day, to receive a Word of life addressed to us.
Let’s go back to that advice that I’ve given so many times: carry a small pocket Gospel, in your pocket, in your bag, and so when you have a minute you open it and read something, and the Lord will answer you.
Thus, on this day, he raised his prayer to the Virgin Mary “faithful in listening” so that she “teach us the art of praying always, without getting tired”.