Second Sunday of Lent
Fr. Mark Gatto
Preached: March 13, 2022
Where do you like to pray? Do you have a favourite place to pray?
Jesus took Peter, James and John up on the mountain. Away from the distractions and noise of daily life. A time and place of solitude and silence. This allowed them to see in a new way. They saw and understood Jesus in a deeper way, in a new way.
It seems such a wonderful thing for those apostles who were taken up the mountain with Jesus. We would love to be taken up a mountain to be alone with Jesus. Yet, each day there is an opportunity for us to go with Jesus up the mountain. A place of quiet, a place of solitude, a place of prayer. For some, perhaps in our bedroom, for some, perhaps in our sitting room, for some, perhaps in a local church, for some, perhaps out for a walk. Go with Jesus up the mountain now and then in order to see more clearly.
But, I wonder how many of us would actually go with Jesus. Many of us would be too busy, too distracted, too many things to worry about.
In our new church building, my hope is to provide a place of prayer for us all. The church itself is designed to allow all of us the baptized to gather and worship as the living body of Christ. That all of us will fully participate in the Liturgy.
Within the church we will also have two shrines. One dedicated to the Holy Family and one dedicated to St. Catherine of Siena. These will be places for our more private time of prayer. Especially the prayer of Intercession where many will take time to pray for family, for friends, for the needs of the world, as well as for their own times of personal discernment.
We will also have an Adoration Chapel, the Corpus Christi Adoration Chapel, which will be a place of private prayer time in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament.
Finally, we will have in the main walkway of the parking lot a Grotto. The Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto with a statue of Our Lady. I am sure that many will drive in and park near there for quiet moments of reflection.
Hopefully, all of these places in our new church will allow Jesus to take us up a mountain to see more clearly with times of solitude, silence and prayer.
Prayer is so important, but it is not an escape from the world. It is not a moment to avoid responsibility. Peter’s reaction was to want to build tents and stay up the mountain, it was such a nice experience. But, staying in that experience of prayer was not the goal. They had to go back down and continue on their journey, continue on their mission. They had to still face suffering, fear, evil in the crucifixion and death of Jesus.
Our prayer is not to be escapism. It is not to avoid responsibility. The escaped slave Frederick Douglass once said, “I prayed for twenty years but received no answer until I prayed with my legs.” Our praying for something is not meant to avoid doing anything about it ourselves. Prayer is not a magical thing to get what we want, it is not an escape from my personal responsibility. When we pray for something we should always see more clearly what I am called to do in that situation.
An example is when we have a sick family member or friend. We may pray for their healing. But that prayer should also help us to see our own call to assist and support that person. Our prayer may give us the strength and peace to face the pain of seeing someone we love suffering. Our prayer may help us to see how we are to walk with this person even as they face death.
I recently read something from St. John Chrysostom about the importance of prayer. But, he emphasized that he did not mean just saying words or prayer of outward observance. It is prayer from the heart that is not confined to fixed times or periods. Continuous throughout the day and night. Our spirit and mind reaching out, longing for God.
Not just when in formal prayer but also when we are carrying out our daily duties. While at work, while caring for a family member who is sick or needy. Throughout the day to reach out to God as a child longing to be tenderly embraced. Turn to God with our heart before all that we do. In this way we will become a dwelling place for God.
So, let Jesus take you up a mountain by finding places and times of silence and solitude. Go to your favourite place of prayer. Not as an escape from the world nor to avoid our own responsibility. In all that we do in our ordinary daily lives, have prayer of the heart, continually turning to God. Then, in each person we meet, in each thing we do during the day, we will see with the light of God, we will have the spirit of God within us that allows God to touch others through us.