The Catechism of the Catholic Church #26


April 13, 1997

Brother John Raymond


When we pass from this world to the next after death we will come to the realization that God is everything. There will be no more distractions from Him. But as long as we remain pilgrims on this earth we tend to forget that He is our life and our all. St. Gregory of Nazianzus, an Eastern Father of the Church, tells us, "'We must remember God more often than we draw breath.'" (CCC #2697) We know the commandment Jesus taught us; to love God with our whole being. Certainly we will never arrive at this state if we do not at least pray at specific times with a conscious act of the will.

The Tradition of the Church has set forth certain rhythms of prayer to nourish our continual prayer. Morning and evening prayer, grace before and after meals and the Liturgy of the Hours are prayed on a daily basis. Sundays are kept holy primarily by prayer with the focus being on the Holy Eucharist. The liturgical calendar with its great feasts is another rhythm of prayer for the Christian life. Praying at least once a day is something we should consider as a minimum for sustaining our relationship with God.

I know that growing up I fell into a common attitude still prevalent today: thinking about God only in church. Now, if you only go to church on Sundays then you are left with thinking about God one hour each week. That really falls short of continual prayer don't you think? This attitude comes from an ideal of our country burned into our brains from childhood that Church and State must be kept separate. This has been translated to mean that God's place is in church, only. There used to be a saying that one should avoid talking about two things: politics and religion. The idea that God's Presence is restricted to church is absurd. We do not live our daily lives apart from Him. As a matter of fact, so much is God aware of us and we dependent on Him that if He "forgot" about someone even for an instant he or she would cease to exist. So really it is fiction to believe that we can exclude God from our "secular" affairs. He is aware of all we do. For a Catholic to say he or she is "for abortion" at work and privately against it is rubbish. Pilate was privately "for Jesus" but "at work," as judge, had Him crucified.

God is interested in what we do no matter where we do it. It's like a husband who comes home from work (or vice versa these days) and is asked many questions about his day by his wife. She loves him and is interested in how his day went. Unlike the wife in this example, God never leaves our side. So we can talk to Him "live" while the action is happening.

We know that the Lord leads us by diverse paths according to His good pleasure. We respond to Him according to our heart's resolve and personal expressions of prayer. But as I've mentioned, we have to set aside special times for Christian prayer. "Christian Tradition has retained three major expressions of prayer: vocal, meditative and contemplative." (CCC #2699) All three forms rivet our attention on God's Presence. They are intense times of prayer. In the coming weeks we will look at these expressions of prayer through the eyes of The Catechism of the Catholic Church.