Monday, August 26, 2013

50 Days of Prayer - Day 3

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Day Three

The Annunciation




There is one thing common in almost every artistic depiction of the Annunciation.

Mary is praying.  Or meditating.  Or reading Scripture.  She is alone indoors, communing with God, and God responds; God comes to her.  The initiative is not all on God's part; Mary invites Him in, and in He comes.  He does not come while she is cooking or cleaning or mending.  He comes while she is praying.

***

Once, when my kids were both going to a bad Catholic school, the assignment in my son's class was to write an exercise answering the question, "If you could say anything to God, what would you say?"  

In other words, "If prayer were possible, how would you go about it?"  

Well, prayer is not only possible, it is, really, the "one thing necessary" (Luke 10:42).  It is, apart from God's grace, the sine qua non of our spiritual life.

I think that most of us assume that the special graces granted Mary, and the unique moment of the Annunciation, when God offers, Mary accepts, and Christ is suddenly Incarnate on Earth - we tend to think of this as being so far out of our league that nothing we poor sinners can do can compare with it.

But all prayer is a recapitulation of the Annunciation.

Let me repeat that.  All prayer is a recapitulation of the Annunciation.  We invite, God responds; God offers, we accept.  And new life begins to grow within us.  Prayer is a dialogue - a personal dialogue with the Creator of the Universe, who for some reason, takes an intense personal interest in every single one of us.

And as with all dialogue, there is a give and take, some talking and some listening.  All prayer is the penetration of the natural by the supernatural - all prayer is God becoming miraculously active on earth.  And all prayer is a relationship, a living and creative thing.

C. S. Lewis' masterpiece Letters to Malcom is all about prayer, and Malcom is a fictional figure.  We get to read the narrator's letters, but we never get to read Malcom's replies.  We only see how the narrator responds to Malcom's replies.  This is analogous to prayer itself.  We know what our letters to God are, but we can't always clearly discern the replies God sends back to us.  And yet a change is wrought in us, all the same.

God answers all prayer - usually not with words, but with feelings, events, blessings and crosses in our lives.  If you pray to Him devoutly with an undivided heart, He will always answer you - you just have to get used to learning how to listen for the various ways in which He answers.  You have to learn how to read His letters.

So pray a decade of the Rosary focusing on the Annunciation.  And do so in the spirit of the Psalmist ...

You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land where there is no water ...
... On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night.
Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings.
I cling to you; your right hand upholds me.  (from Psalm 63)

Let us pray.

To you, Immaculate Heart of Mary, we consecrate ourselves – our hearts, minds, wills and lives and all those works we undertake so they may be for the glory of God, for the sake of the Gospel and the salvation of souls. Holy Mother, our Queen and our Joy, give to our hearts the dimensions of yours and form us in the image of your beloved Son.

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