Prayer urges us to a deeper relationship with God - Catholic Courier

Prayer urges us to a deeper relationship with God

ROCHESTER — Life in the modern age gives us many tools of communication: voicemail, text messages, e-mail and instant messaging. But, noted Deacon Nemesio “Vellon” Mart√≠nez, none of these work to reach God.

To do that, prayer is our only option, and it’s one that puts a person in the very presence of God’s glory, he added during a Feb. 21 Lenten reflection for Hispanic parishioners at St. Michael Church.

“At times, we’re not conscious that God is with us in that moment,” Deacon Mart√≠nez said. “God is aware … and what an honor it is to be in the presence of the Lord of the universe.”

Because of the powerful nature of prayers, we should be careful to not let them become just recitations that are rote and routine, Deacon Martínez warned.

This year’s series of Lenten and Easter soup suppers and discussions at St. Michael — which feature separate talks in English and Spanish — were created in conjunction with the three-year diocesan spiritual renewal, said Deacon Daniel Hurley, pastoral administrator for St. Michael and Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church. The theme of the renewal’s first year is deepening relationships with Christ, and Bishop Matthew H. Clark was scheduled to speak about prayer at St. Michael on Feb. 28.

Both Deacon Martínez and Sister Karen Dietz, pastoral administrator of St. Agnes Church in Avon who led the English-language discussion Feb. 21, cited definitions of prayer that also illustrate why Catholics pray.

“Prayer is a surge of the heart,” Deacon Mart√≠nez read from the Catechism of the Catholic Church . “It is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy.”

We should learn to focus better on the grandeur and the holiness of prayer, he added. Because when we let go of that focus, he noted, we use our prayers to manipulate God into giving us what we are seeking.

“We don’t submit ourselves to God’s will,” he said, adding that God always knows what we need.

Sister Dietz cited Edith Piaf’s response to a reporter’s question about whether she prayed during the end of the film “La Vie en Rose,” which chronicled her life and career.

“Of course, I pray because I love,” Sister Dietz cited as Piaf’s response. “We pray because we love God and God loves us.”

Sister Dietz and Deacon Martínez also discussed with parishioners the types of prayers Catholics use including adoration, petition, intercession, praise, thanksgiving and as a blessing to others.

Prayer also helps us to be unselfish, Sister Dietz noted.

“It gets us outside of ourselves,” she said. “Prayer urges us to go deeper into our relationship (with God).”

Our prayers should be humble and simple, like the tax collector’s prayer in the parable about the Pharisee and the tax collector. Deacon Mart√≠nez had a parishioner read the Bible passage aloud so participants could reflect on its lesson of how we should and should not pray, he said.

The Pharisee acts proud and judgmental in his prayer. Conversely, the tax collector’s humility in prayer offers a beautiful example for all Christians to follow, Deacon Mart√≠nez remarked.

“It seems small but says so much,” he added. “Prayer should be precise, humble, filled with heart and love and hopeful.”

Parishioner Belen Colón concurred.

“I pray when I’m doing the dishes,” Col√≥n said. “There is never a moment where we should stop praying.”

Above all, our prayers should be filled with faith, love and much patience, Deacon Mart√≠nez added. Because we so often seek God’s help in some way, we also need to remember to offer a prayer of gratitude when our struggles are eased, he noted.

“We pray when we are facing difficulties,” he said. “We forget to say thanks … for all that we have in our lives.”

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