Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The other day I heard from a priest something that struck me in a profound way. He said that “prayer is when we ask God to be with us.” It’s very interesting how he phrased that. Many times, we ask God for things when we pray, which there is nothing wrong about it, or we pray because it’s what we do, or what we are supposed to do. While it’s true that not always do we have the great disposition to pray due to distraction or tiredness, there are times that we pray with our whole heart. Prayer does not have to be the structured order that we can be used to; reciting prayers only. The saints have always described it as a dialogue/conversation with God. They even referred to the Father, Son, Holy Spirit, and Mary very affectionately, as if they were talking face to face with them. In light of the Feast of the Assumption of Mary, I would like to reflect our desire to have God with us.
We were created by God in his image and likeness for heaven. Therefore, there is an innate (natural) desire to be reunited to our creator and to return where we came from. Even the philosophers from antiquity and many movies show how people always want to discover where they came from and where they were raised. Whether there is a quest to find one’s parents or the house where their family lived at a certain point, people go great lengths to achieve that. We are not much different than they in this aspect. There is a great desire inside each one of us to know our Father and where we came from. Prayer, if you will, is a glimpse of that. Maybe like looking for an old family photo with the old house in the background. When we pray, we have this opportunity to open ourselves to tell God that we truly want to be with him. It is not an automatic response such as “God bless” when someone sneezes, but there is a deeper intentionality there, where we say, GOD PLEASE BE WITH ME. Technically we ask God to TAKE US WHERE HE IS.
When we pray the Our Father, we ask God’s kingdom to come to us, or for us to be taken to His kingdom. This desire to be with God in heaven was certainly at the heart of the Virgin Mary. According to tradition, she was raised going to the temple with her father, prayed the psalms with her mother, and spent time reading the scriptures. She was not training to be a Jewish Scholar, but only wanted to know God better and to be with Him all the time. Her prayer to God was not sacrificial or hard, because it was like spending time with a friend. Her whole life could be seen at this perspective, and how she endured many difficulties only to be with her creator, and to return where she came from. The feast of the Assumption that we will celebrate this weekend is the moment which God allows Mary to enter in Heaven. In the Church we call that moment the Dormitio of Mary. We say that she did not die, since death was a consequence of Original sin, which she did not have. When she fell asleep, she was taken/raised/brought up to heaven, as she asked so many times in her life.
Let’s ask brothers and sisters, with the same fervor of Mary, that God may give us the strength to go through the difficulty of life looking at what was promised to us, see Him face to face. As a person may have to deal with flight delays, problems with TSA, sitting uncomfortably on a tight airplane seat to achieve their desired destination, the same happens to us. Let’s be focused in going to heaven, that everything we do, may always be guided towards that. Let’s anticipate heaven here on earth as when we pray. Whether you come to Church for 10 minutes each day, sit in the yard, or go to a beautiful place, ask God to be with him, ask Mary to help us to do what she did, so that when God calls us to himself, we are ready to go!
May the Blessed Mother intercede for us, so that we may always be attentive to the things that are above, and one day, may merit to be sharers of her glory, Amen.
Father Steven Clemence