Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! While I can’t say I have any Irish in my blood, as an alumnus of the Fighting Irish I’d like to think I have some reason to celebrate. But whether we are Irish or not, whether we have a good Irish soda bread recipe or not, all of us as Catholics can certainly celebrate such an inspiring saint. Most of us know his story – how a British teenager was taken into slavery, escaped, and returned to Ire- land as a missionary priest who converted so many to the faith. And maybe more famously, we know how he taught that very simple message of the Trinity using the shamrock – one God in three persons. A very difficult concept captured in a way all can grasp.
As we continue our Lenten journey and take a moment to reflect on prayer, I think that idea of the Trinity can be very helpful. We call to mind those words of Luke’s Gospel, “Lord, teach us how to pray,” and they can hit home. Prayer is something that we can always feel like we need to improve. It’s almost as if it were a skill or a talent that we just need to work on a bit more and we’ll finally be good at it. But if we look at the Trinity, and see that God is ultimately at His very center, a relationship, it changes everything.
Because what our belief in the Trinity reveals is that God is love. Not in the cliché sense that it can be used, but because He really is three persons so closely united in love that they are indivisible – one God. Essential to God is that idea of relationship. That means for us though, that being made in His image and like- ness, we are also made for love. We are made to be in a relationship, and He made us to be in that perfect relationship of love with Him through Christ, as members of Christ’s body.
So prayer, more than anything, is about a relationship. As important as it is to say prayers, those pray- ers are meant to be about building a bond of love with our heavenly Father. What Christ teaches his disciples is the Our Father, because it is the beginning. It has the most basic expressions of prayer which should be on our lips as children and should be ever in our hearts. But in maturity those prayers should be expanded in time of conversation, where we sit quietly with God and open up our hearts to Him, where we share all that we are and all that we have, and allow Him to fill us with His life. Prayer is that time where we speak to God as we would anyone else, thanking Him for what we have, asking Him for what we need, apologizing for how we’ve fallen short, and telling Him we love Him.
Saying prayers is helpful, but prayer becomes so much more. It becomes a constant dialogue through- out our day where we ask God what He thinks of our actions, where we consult Him on where our life is headed, where we think of Him in every moment of blessing and in every cross, knowing it is all part of His loving plan which will bring us to eternal life.
May that be our goal this Lent – to grow in prayer, above all, by growing in love. May we set aside time, as we would for our family or friends, to be with God, to see Him face to face (most powerfully in ado- ration of the Blessed Sacrament), and develop a friendship that will transform our lives. Because when we do have that friendship, nothing will rob us of peace; we’ll realize we need nothing else, because we have only a foretaste of the boundless love we’ll someday find joined in that loving unity with Father, Son, and Spirit for all eternity.
Yours in Christ,