By Sister M. Emily Kenkel
Open your Hearts – Something Nice is Coming Your Way!
In a few days we will be starting a new series of monthly postings on our website called Praying with Father Kentenich. Since prayer is such an essential element of vocational discernment, the series is meant to help you discover the rich content that lies behind the words of our prayers – some well-known in our Catholic tradition, and others composed in modern times by the Servant of God, Father Joseph Kentenich.
The Riches of Prayer
Throughout the ages, the saints have composed beautiful prayers and offered many thoughts about the value and meaning of prayer. St. Augustine said, for example, “Prayer is the key that opens heaven; the favors we ask descend upon us the very instant our prayers ascend to God.” St. Francis of Assisi tells us, “Spiritual joy arises from purity of the heart and perseverance in prayer.” In more recent times, Pope St. John Paul II gave us the inspiring words, “Prayer gives us strength for great ideals, for keeping up our faith, charity, purity, generosity; prayer gives us strength to rise up from indifference and guilt, if we have had the misfortune to give in to temptation and weakness. Prayer gives us light by which to see and to judge from God’s perspective and from eternity.” And St. Teresa of Calcutta said, “God has created us to love and to be loved, and this is the beginning of prayer – to know that he loves me, that I have been created for greater things.”
Prayer: Cultivating a Personal Relationship
Father Kentenich, too, understood the meaning and value of prayer for our lives as Christians. He liked to use images to help us grasp it in a down-to-earth way – for example: “Praying means to climb up into the heights, into the heart of God, like a deliberate mountain climber.” One aspect of prayer Father Kentenich especially emphasized is that it must be personal. The person we speak with – whether it be God the Father, Christ, the Holy Spirit, the Blessed Mother, or one of the saints – needs to be very real to us, close to us, present with us; then prayer will permeate every aspect of our person and life. Father Kentenich said, for example: “It’s a matter of a personal speaking [with God]. What kind of speaking? It might be a speaking of the mouth, but it doesn’t need to be. But if it is a speaking of the mouth, this speaking of the mouth should connect with, generate, awaken, increase, and deepen the speaking of the heart and the speaking of life afterwards.” This view of prayer becomes visible in everything Father Kentenich taught about the traditional prayers of the Church and in the many prayers he himself composed.
Prayer and Vocational Discernment
All these powerful words from the hearts of holy men and women undoubtedly move us to grow deeper in our life of prayer as we discern our life’s vocation. When we develop a deep relationship with God in prayer, we become better capable of hearing his voice and understanding his will for us. At the same time – and most importantly – we grow in love for him, and this love enables us to fulfill his wishes. Becoming aware of how much God loves us motivates us to love him wholeheartedly in return, even when it costs us sacrifice, even when it means facing our fears, even when it means daring a leap into an uncertain future.
We invite you to delve into this new series on Praying with Father Kentenich. You might wish to reserve some quiet time to read the individual articles as they appear; they will bring the most fruits for you in connection with prayerful reflection and study. It is our hope that you will find your way more deeply into a life of prayer, into an intimate relationship with God, so that your vocation search becomes ever more marked by firm faith, courageous trust, and profound joy.
* Quotes by the saints taken from https://www.azquotes.com/