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Bacolod City, Philippines Saturday, July 16, 2016
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Rock and Refuge
with Fr. Roy Cimagala
OPINIONS

Rock & Refuge

The one thing necessary

The story of the sisters, Martha and Mary, (Lk 10,48-52) offers us a precious lesson on always giving priority to prayer, the one thing necessary in life, no matter how many and urgent our other concerns are during the day.

The immediate basis for this truth is what Christ himself said: “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?” (Mt 16,26) That's because prayer is like the breathing and the heartbeat of our spiritual organism, of our soul. Just as we continue to breathe and just as our heart continues to beat even while we are unconscious in our sleep, so should our prayer be.

To be sure, this is possible and doable, because praying does not even need a bodily organ for it to be done. It is a spiritual operation that can transcend the use of our bodily faculties. It's a matter of attitude, of belief, which we can always have even if it is not expressly articulated.

As such, it can be done in any situation—while we are working, playing, resting, etc. But it would be good that we spend some time doing nothing other than praying, directly engaging God in a loving conversation, because that would help us to be prayerful in all our other activities and situations in life.

Thus, we have to be ready to do some vocal prayers and mental prayer. These are exercises that can build and fuel our life of prayer. With them, we engage God in a more direct way, and in a more loving way, giving him due worship and adoration.

Besides, those moments of vocal prayer and mental prayer would be good moments to thank God for everything we have received, and also to ask for pardon for the mistakes and sins we have committed, as well as to ask for favors that we need.

But in our present human condition, we need to fight to be able to pray. We need to struggle. We have to exert great and abiding effort to convert everything we do into prayer.

We have already been warned in the Bible that our life here on earth is a warfare. We are ranged against powerful enemies not so much in terms of physical strength as in terms of subtlety, trickery and deception.

The forces of good and evil are always in conflict not so much in some places outside or war arenas somewhere, as in our very own heart. The combat is more internal than external, more spiritual and moral than material and physical.

Besides, the battle of contention starts in some little matters, not in big issues, that are not promptly attended and are made to fester for a while until they become a crisis or a conflagration.

Just take a peep at your heart. Even in your most stable periods of goodness and well-being, you know well how the demons and temptations are just around the corner, ever ready to pounce at the slightest opening.

We need to be always on guard, and the best way to do that is to pray, to be in constant conversation with God, our Father, whose wisdom and omnipotence he is willing to share with us. his children, created in his image and likeness.

It is through prayer that we can see and receive the power of God. It is where we can train ourselves in the skills of spiritual combat—how to deal with our weaknesses, temptations and our sins and defeats. It's where we can nurse our wounds.

We have to learn to pray and to convert everything into prayer. “Pray without ceasing,” St. Paul says (1 Th 5,17). “Watch and pray,” Christ told the sleepy Peter, “that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit is indeed willing, but the flesh is weak” (Mt 26, 41).

We have to fight against our tendency to be swallowed up by our work and the dynamics of our earthly concerns. In fact, we should turn them into prayer. That's how we would refer them to God and not treat them merely as human or worldly affairs.

We need to be wary of our tendency to regard our temporal affairs purely as secular, without any reference to God. This would detach us from the very source of our spiritual life, of everything that is true, good and beautiful.

So, we have to learn to discipline our human impulses that in their raw state need to be educated, purified and formed according to the Christian ideals where charity and love for God and others would be the primary directing principles.*

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