Monday, July 05, 2021



 Pray, fast. Pray always, fast. [1]

The template for this is Jesus in the desert [Mt. 4:1-11] where He both prays and fasts and rejects satan’s traps. There is frequently intense spiritual warfare when we are in prayer, so trusting the source of the gift to pray is critical: ….the Spirit too comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes with inexpressible groanings.[Rms.8:26].

All of creation prays, the whole cosmos prays, every creature prays by the very nature of their being reflections of the glory of the Most Holy Trinity. The stars and suns shimmer, the planets rotate, light travels, sound travels, the wind blows, rain and snow fall, trees, plants, grasses sway in the wind, dance really, mountains and hills, rocks and valleys, oceans waves and all creatures beneath the water, birds of the air and creatures like deer moving on the earth – all by their very existence pray. [Daniel 3:56-88]

When we ask: Let my prayer be incense before you….[Psalm 141.2] we can be confident it is so: Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a gold censer. He was given a great quantity of incense to offer, along with the prayers of all the holy ones, on the gold altar that was before the throne. The smoke of the incense along with the prayers of the holy ones went up before God from the hand of the angel. [Rev.8:3,4]

Both prayer and fasting are very simple, easy to fulfill, however both can also be experienced as burdensome if we complicate matters by seeking to do either by our own efforts, for in essence neither should be primarily about us. Yes, both have a personal aspect, but that should be secondary to a focus on the Holy Trinity, with love and adoration and intercession for others, specific individuals and for the entire human family.

Jesus taught us one prayer, the Our Father which contains all aspects of humble, loving, recognition of right relationship with Our Abba – love, trust, dependence – and essential petitions for self and others.

There are many other forms of prayer: the Psalms, Holy Rosary, Litanies, and the most perfect form of prayer, which itself contains the Our Father: Holy Mass/Divine Liturgy.

We can easily, throughout the day or evening, while doing necessary tasks like dusting or washing dishes, and also perhaps taking a few moments in stillness to pray with the prayer drawn by the Desert Fathers from the prayer of the Publican, [Lk.18:9-14]: ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’ The Desert Fathers thus prayed: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, have mercy on me a sinner. At night the beating of our hearts testifies to our loving prayer, awaiting either the grace-gift of a new earthly day or the arrival of the Divine Lover Himself, come to take us home. [Jn. 14:1-3]

A critical aspect of prayer, which we glean from all the times in the Holy Gospels we see Jesus

going off by Himself to pray, is the aspect of intimate conversational prayer with the Most Holy Trinity. This is not to try and get the Father or Jesus or the Holy Spirit to speak with us like we would expect in conversation with another human being, rather it is to trust Love Himself is attentive, and that we can speak unabashedly whatever joys, sorrows, doubts, burdens, gratitude, needs, fill our hearts. It is to have the heart of a child who chats with their parents or grandparents.

The ‘always’ aspect of this line from the Little Mandate is no burden since our hearts beat all day long, for our very existence is prayer, and fidelity to the duty of the moment is itself prayer. There is no dichotomy between the serving actions of Martha and the contemplative stance of Mary in the presence of Christ. Indeed, action must lead to contemplation and contemplation to action, the mobius strip of living the Gospel with our lives.

Fasting itself must be marked with love, lack of self interest, be done as act of intercession and remembering, intercede for Divine Mercy for our sins and those of the whole world and remembering that our real needed food and drink is the Holy Eucharist. Fasting should not be restricted to food. Indeed, better not to fast from food of any kind, or any kind of drink if we are unwilling to fast from a very long list of unholiness from self-interest, ego, judging others, etc. etc., etc. Yes the classic form of fasting, such as is common practice during Lent is blessed, but fasting from actions and attitudes that hurt or demean, judge, or reject others, etc., is very much blessed.

The absolute depths of Pray, fast. Pray always, fast, is best shown by the following: One day Father Lot went to Father Joseph and told him, “As far as I can I keep my rule. I eat little, I pray and I am silent. I work with my hands and share my bread with the poor. As best I can, I strive to purify my heart. What else should I do?” Then Father Joseph stood up and stretched out his arms, and from his fingers shot tongues of fire. “If you want,” he said, “you can become a living flame.”  After that quotation from the Desert Fathers, Pelton continues: To become a living flame: that is the Gospel proclaimed by Jesus the Master. That is what He Himself is, the blazing sun who lights the whole world………There is no secret about the nature of that fire. It is simply love……It is the living Spirit of the living God, alive in us. It is the Holy Spirit who pours God’s love into us and makes us living flames……Our Lord and Master has made Himself our food and drink as He has made Himself our fire and light. It we remain inconsolable until our own prayer pierces the clouds and the Father makes us also living flames, the reason is that our burning is ultimately for others. Everywhere our sisters and brothers are dying of hunger, cold, and disbelief. It we refuse the humility of Christ and the fire of His love, who will feed them or warm them – or light their way home to the tenderness of the Father? [2]


[2] CIRCLING THE SUN, Meditations on Christ in Liturgy and Time; pp. 122 & 123; Robert D. Pelton; The Pastoral Press, 1986 [out of print/italics and emphasis mine]

© 2021 Fr. Arthur Joseph


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