A Message from Fr. Tom
Allow me to start off with a fancy word—liminal. The word ‘liminal’ means literally being in an intermediate state or phase. It is a moment of transition. Think of the movies American Graffiti, The Last Picture Show, or Stand By Me and you understand this word ‘liminal.’ These were all movies about liminal moments—young people transitioning to mature adulthood. The young people in these films were searching for direction and examples to help them transition and find their way in life. As Christians, we are presently in a liminal moment—an in-between time—between the Ascension of Jesus and the expectation of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost Sunday. When we celebrate the Ascension, we celebrate that Jesus Christ is King of the Universe and one with God the Father. “Glorify me, Father, with you, with the glory that I had with you before the world began.”
Our Gospel this Sunday makes this point abundantly clear. We rightly celebrate what Jesus came to do—to reveal to us the Father and how many come to we know him and live a life that is worthy and pleasing to Him. We all experience these liminal moments at all stages in our lives. They can be frightening: graduating from school, starting a new job, moving, entering into marriage, life changing medical issues, retirement, needing assistance caring for ones-self, a terminal diagnosis. “Do not be afraid.” Through it all, Christ is our King. His authority is made manifest by his Ascension to the Father. Therefore, we have a powerful source of grace when we invoke the name of Jesus, call upon him and place our lives—with trust—into his hands. Practically speaking how do we do this? Prayer! The 17th Chapter of John’s Gospel from which this Sunday’s Gospel is often referred to as the great prayer of Jesus to God the Father. We should take heart that Jesus prays for you and for me. He knows you would be chosen by him many years after his Resurrection. He wishes to give to you the assurance of God’s Presence—as he was assured of this presence prior to his Passion (the context of the Gospel). Jesus stays in contact with the source—the Father’s love—through prayer. We all need to do the same. The key message from our readings this Sunday makes clear that prayer is the means by which we remain connected to the source. Let’s us resolve is a special way to dedicate ourselves to times of prayer in our lives.
Some Practical Suggestions to Help You Integrate Prayer into Your Daily Life
Over the course of my life the following steps have been of great helps to me personally.
1. First—never forget the counsel of the great saints:
“There is no such thing as bad prayer.” St. Teresa of Avila
“If you desire to pray better—pray more!!” St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta
2. Schedule times and places to pray. For example, I began to pray the rosary with regularity on the subway to and from work or using a finger rosary while I drive (very safe—and I keep both hands on the wheel!!). Dedicate yourself to specific times: in the morning when you wake, before meals, before you go to bed. Pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet at 3pm.
3. Use an app or a service to assist you at prayer. On my iPhone I have both the “iBreviary” and “Laudate” apps to help me to pray when the books I normally use are not available. There are services that will remind you to pray.
4. When someone asks you to pray for them—do it right away. Better, do it right there in their presence. Many people think we have to be in the right place or in a ‘holy’ mood or disposition. It is a powerful witness both publically to other and to our God, when we are willing to press the pause button on life and pray.
5. Take the time and the trouble to slow down and reflect about the needs of others. Intercessory Prayer helps us to not only stay in touch with our God—but also with each other. We give ourselves the opportunity to think about people in need. We remember their faces—the place they hold in our lives—our love for them. The fruit of this prayer is also that it can motivate us to action—to call people—to assist them as best we can. This type of prayer helps to make the world smaller, less strange. We are less alienated from others and ourselves because we recognize that we are not alone. We are connected, active and make a difference in the world by praying for the needs of others
Fr. Tom V.