At Sunday Mass, the weekend before Lent, the priest asked the congregation during his homily what we planned to do for Lent – how were we going to use this holy season to grow deeper in our faith, to become better persons?
Among his suggestions, he included saying a decade of the Rosary each day. As Lent arrived this past Ash Wednesday, I thought about that homily, and, while I was driving to work I decided to pray a decade of the Rosary.
I find the Rosary prayer to be very contemplative, and often my mind wanders from the visualization of the particular Mystery intended for the decade prayed. As I thought about the Annunciation and what it have took for Mary to say yes to God’s will, I had a moment – a sort of awakening about how I should approach prayer, how prayer creates tangible benefits, and how prayer strengthens the life of the Spirit in us.
For the most part, I realized that most of my prayers have been about asking God for things – for peace, for good health to family members and friends, for our children’s success in life, and so on. I have also prayed in thanksgiving for blessings that have been given to family, friends, and myself.
To a much lesser extent, I rarely prayed for acceptance, for recognition that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Prayers of acceptance, of allowing God to work within and through me crystallized in my mind.
Benefits of Prayer
Prayers that focus on acceptance of what might not be within our control and on those aspects of ourselves that might be improved or changed, offer us an opportunity to strengthen our mental and spiritual capacities. Scripture passages and images ran through my mind – do not worry about the things of this world. A temple of human hands is destroyed, but Christ rebuilds the temple in three days.
Prayer helps our minds focus beyond the temporal world around us. It builds up in us a reservoir of strength, of peace and calm to manage our way through this life focusing not only ourselves but also on others whom we allow to enter into our lives.
Life of the Spirit
When we practice the discipline of prayer, we become better at identifying those aspects of ourselves that can stand improvement. For example, becoming a better person – one who interacts most favorably with others and is comfortable in his or her own skin – ironically is one who has developed a life of the Spirit.
This journey of prayer brings us closer to the reality of death – the transforming moment when our lives transition entirely to Spirit. I believe that the more energy we devote to preparing for this moment, we will be less anxious when the time arrives and have a more fulfilling experience.
These 40 days of Lent provide a time for us to consider how we will invest the time we have in our lives. This upcoming week, both the Fathers’ Club and Mothers’ Guild will embark on their annual retreats on March 8 and March 12, respectively. May the time they invest in meditative prayer and spiritual reflection enrich their experiences during this Lenten season. On Tuesday, March 11, the student body will bless the Lenten cross in the center of the Quad.
I believe that if we devote some of our time to the development of a strong prayer life, we will have made a doubly rich investment – one that provides us with contentment in this life and the ability to embrace life after death as the joyous gift that it is.
All of these thoughts rushed through my head as I prayed one decade of the Rosary on the way to work on Ash Wednesday morning. I prayed a second decade immediately after.