Sustaining our living houses of prayer over time


Most children welcome birthdays because it means they’re a year older. Some birthdays bring milestones, such as being old enough to drive a car or being able to order a glass of wine in a restaurant.

The older we get, the less likely we are to view birthdays with the same level of excitement, though recently, I’ve noticed some of my peers sharing their age with pride. Gray hair is becoming okay, and as one friend joked, “I’ve earned every wrinkle and every gray hair on my head.”

There are advantages that come with age and the passage of time. A slower pace allows us to reflect on the road traveled as well as the one that lies ahead.

Traditionally, June is the month devoted to the Sacred Heart, reminding us of the words of Jesus: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest” (Mt 11:28). Jesus’ invitation helps us remain centered on the heart of God.

As Catholics, we believe we are temples of the Holy Spirit, so what does our inner temple look like? Does it resemble an out-of-the-way chapel that we visit infrequently and only when we are buffeted by the storms of life? Is it built on sandy soil, or does it have a strong and sturdy foundation?

With the passage of time, does our inner temple mirror a cathedral with stained-glass windows that allow the light of Christ to shine through? Or have we allowed the wear and tear of years to diminish its beauty? Even the most beautiful cathedrals require upkeep and regular cleaning, and the same holds true for our inner temple.

Mindful of this, we ask: what are the tables in our life that need to be overturned so that we can become a living house of prayer? Is Jesus the first one we turn to for comfort when we are weary and burdened? And when Jesus comes to us in the Eucharist, does he feel welcomed or are we so distracted that he is unable to get our attention?

None of us can escape interior tensions and those of an imperfect world. There will be moments of crisis, anxiety, fear, frustration and disappointment in every life. This is why a life of prayer is not optional, it’s a matter of survival. Prayer, like anything else we do, is strengthened through frequent practice.

That doesn’t mean we have to be on our knees 24 hours a day, but that we offer all we do as prayer. It’s about being mindful of God’s presence as we go about fulfilling the duties that are part of everyday life. The chatter of children, the tapping of computer keys, even the sound of traffic cannot drown out the presence of God.

In the book “The Twelve Degrees of Silence,” Discalced Carmelite Sister Marie-Aimée of Jésus explained that sacred silence is about presenting ourselves to God, to offer all we do to God, to adore, love and listen to God, and finally, to rest in God.

When we’re mindful that our true home is in the heart of Jesus, all of life becomes sacred. As living temples, the divine guest dwells within, helping us become the person God is calling us to be.

If this sounds too lofty for ordinary souls, we need only remember that Jesus said, “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him” (Jn 14:23).

Humbled by the presence of the Triune God within, may we lift our voice and pray: Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on me, and be with me this day and every day!


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