PIOUS, alias HOLY, NEW YEAR!

A new year! Will you and I take advantage of this New Year to become saints? That is the question!

2005 starts in the morning of the first of January 2005. The famous British writer C. S. Lewis was right when he wrote, “The moment you wake up each morning, all your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists in shoving it all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other, larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in.”

He is right. He who runs from God in the morning will scarcely find Him the rest of the day.

And finding God is what 2005 is all about. Ivan endured all the horrors of a Soviet prison camp. One day he was praying with his eyes closed when a fellow prisoner noticed him and said with ridicule, “Prayers won’t help you get out of here any faster.” Opening his eyes, Ivan answered, “Perhaps not, but they help me to do the will of God today.”

Prayer opens a contact with the real Helper in life. And believe it or not, prayer can also be fun! A friend of mine took his small son with him to town one day to run some errands. When lunch time arrived, the two of them went to a fast food place for a burger. The father sat down on one of the stools at the counter and lifted the boy up to the seat beside him. They ordered lunch, and when the waiter brought the food, the father said, “Son, we’ll just have a silent prayer.” Dad got through praying first and waited for the boy to finish his prayer, but the boy just sat with his head bowed for an unusually long time. When he finally looked up, his father asked him, “What in the world were you praying about all that time?” With the innocence and honesty of a child, he replied, “How do I know? It was a silent prayer.”

Do not worry! God can understand even a silent prayer! He can even pick sense out of an ambivalent request!

A small boy was sent to his room because he had been naughty. A short time later he came out and said to his mother, “I’ve been thinking about what I did and I said a prayer.” “That’s fine,” she said, “if you ask God to make you good, He will help you.” “Oh, I didn’t ask Him to help me be good,” replied the boy. “I asked Him to help me put up with you.” The cheek! God must grin a lot at our prayers!

Frantic cries however are always the best prayers! “Recently, in Kentucky, we watched an especially verbal and boisterous child being hurried out, slung under his irate father’s arm. No one in the congregation so much as raised an eyebrow – until the child captured everyone’s attention by crying out in a charming Southern accent, “Ya’ll pray for me now!”

A real deep hearted “please, prayer”. “When our children were small and we were trying to teach them to pray, we had three kinds of prayer: “Please prayers,” “Thank you prayers,” and “Sorry prayers” a mother wrote in her book Getting Into God.

So, this year let us pray! My old Carmelite spiritual director always reminded me every time that, “the love of God only wants the best for me; the wisdom of God always knows what is best for me and the power of God can accomplish this best for me!” So true!

Two tricks, however! One, keep going at all costs! Early African converts to Christianity were earnest and regular in private devotions. Each one reportedly had a separate spot in the thicket where he would pour out his heart to God. Over time the paths to these places became well worn. As a result, if one of these believers began to neglect prayer, it was soon apparent to the others. They would kindly remind the negligent one, “Brother, the grass grows on your path.”

Two, believe that He will do it! A story is told about a small town that had historically been “dry” (no alcohol shops) but then a local businessman decided to build a tavern. A group of Christians from a local church were concerned and planned an all-night prayer meeting to ask God to intervene. It just so happened that shortly thereafter lightning struck the bar and it burned to the ground. The owner of the bar sued the church, claiming that the prayers of the congregation were responsible, but the church hired a lawyer to argue in court that they were not responsible. The presiding judge, after his initial review of the case, stated that “no matter how this case comes out, one thing is clear. The tavern owner believes in prayer and the Christians do not.”

This new year 2005, I wish you flexibility and tenacity as you pursue an exciting quest towards maturity in Jesus Christ! I wish myself the same!


(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission is hereby granted for any non-commercial use, provided that the content is unaltered from its original state, if this copyright notice is included.