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Listen to what I tell you about prayer

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You know very well that the Lord Jesus lives among us. He is constantly in the church and at any time of the day or night you can find Him – truly and actually present under the form of bread on the altar. Instead of envying the happiness of the inhabitants of Judea and Galilee who looked upon the Lord Jesus with their eyes, rush to Him for a confidential and sincere conversation. You are a hundred times happier than they. You can approach the Lord Jesus whenever you wish and talk to Him for as long as possible. Tell Him everything and ask for everything with faith, trust and love as your best Lord, Father, Friend and Brother. Go, then, and draw near if duty and occupation permit you.

Do not regret taking the time to visit Him [in the Blessed Sacrament], especially when He is alone in the church and none of the people speak to Him, even though He sweetly invites them to do so: “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Mt 11:28).

At every free moment, holy souls hurried before the altar in which the Lord Jesus under the form of bread is present in order to open their hearts before Him. Saint Casimir would go to church at night, and when he found the door closed, he would kneel on the threshold for hours. Saint Francis Xavier, after his labours and toils, would go to church as if to rest for the visitation of the Blessed Sacrament. Saint Aloysius, leaving the Visitation, cried out in tears: “Let me go, let me go, Lord!”.

You too will see from your own experience what an inexpressible consolation this time before the Blessed Sacrament will give you. It will be of many benefits to you in your life on earth and in eternity.

Remember that, just as the Lord Jesus once raised the dead and healed the sick and forgave sinners, today with the greatest tenderness and compassion, he will help you and give you graces. Ask Him for very much because even more than you expect, He can and will give you.

Saint John Vianney often saw a certain elderly villager who each time entered the church when he was going to the fields or returning after work. He left his rake and shovel at the door. It was a strange haunting. He knelt and his eyes were fixed on the altar where the Blessed Sacrament was. Once the parish priest asked him: “Tell me, brother, how do you pray when you enter the church”. The villager replied: “I don’t know how to pray. So I just look at the Lord Jesus and He looks at me”. Oh what a beautiful way to visit the Blessed Sacrament! Like this villager, you will also be instructed by the Holy Spirit how to visit the Blessed Sacrament.

It is better to say fewer prayers but from the heart than to say many but with a machine-like and hurried repetition. This is what you should mainly strive for. Your heart should pray and be occupied with the Lord Jesus.

I highly recommend entering the church in utmost concentration. In church, be in a kneeling posture with utmost reverence before the Lord Jesus laid in the Blessed Sacrament, paying no attention to people. If you pray from a book – look at the book or at the Lord Jesus. Let your heart be inflamed with God’s love. Give yourself wholeheartedly to a long, sincere and tender conversation with Him.

When our soul rises to God and speaks to Him, God descends towards it and answers. “Prayer ascends and the mercy of God descends”, said Saint Augustine. Prayer creates a sweet and lasting communion between God and the soul. The Christian life is united to prayer: it is like a continuous journey between earth and heaven.

Since your first duty is to pray, your greatest benefit will be to pray well. To be able to pray well – this is far more important to you than all human skills.

You have already experienced how difficult it is to pray well. This is precisely because in prayer our soul must ascend to God while everything that draws it towards the earth holds it back and opposes it. Passions that humiliate us, pleasures that entice us, works that consume all our time – all these things constrain the impulses of our heart like ropes.

The angels gaze upon the beauty of God and the sight delights them. We, on the contrary, climb up to God only with the help of visible objects. Every rung halts our progress on the long ladder of creatures. Prayer is an effort for us. As soon as our spirit rises, it immediately falls away and seeks rest. It immerses itself in vain thoughts and all the dreariness of our lives.

Is it not bitter for you that you do not know how to pray well? When your heart grows cold? When in the holy place you feel as if you were in an empty and waterless land? When seeking God everywhere, you find Him nowhere? Are you not crushed by sorrow and distress?

O how blessed would the Lord be if, by giving you my secret, I taught you to pray better! And my secret is contained in one word: the Blessed Sacrament. It will teach you to pray well.

If the presence of God enshrouds your spirit, it drives away alien thoughts; if it warms your heart, do not be afraid to let your prayer cool down.

How easy it is to persevere in the presence of God when we pray before the Blessed Sacrament. Such a powerful influence it exerts on the soul that it draws it and binds it together. To gaze upon the Blessed Sacrament is to imagine most accurately beholding God.

Jesus Christ, by approaching us and standing on the altar for us to worship Him, helps us greatly to have our spirit focused. From our heart to the altar is a short distance, so we won’t stray from this path. Therefore, prayer in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament becomes easy and acquires a strength unparalleled.

Meditate on the Lord Jesus in the tabernacle and on the altar. He himself will tell you that He is seemingly dead and yet alive; that he is seemingly silent and yet speaks. For “he always lives to intercede for us” (Heb 7:25).

The Lord Jesus’ abode in the Blessed Sacrament is a constant prayer. From the tabernacle in which He dwells, He brings His prayers to the Father with a mighty cry and is always “heard because of his reverent submission” (Heb 5:7).

When I bend my knees before the tabernacle, I no longer pray alone; God prays with me and perfects my prayer. I am no longer frightened by my unworthiness. I am no longer frightened by my bloodiness. The more unworthy I am, the more I have recourse to the infinite majesty of the Blessed Sacrament for help. The weaker my prayer is, the more I am insured by His prayer. What does it hurt that I am only human when God is with me? What harm is it that my heart cools when it is ignited by a prayer that expresses itself in the words of God?

The tabernacle of the Blessed Sacrament is full of grace to which we approach so that we may find mercy and help in our needs.

The Lord Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament who prays with us, is the God who hears us; the only Mediator between God and us. He is the source of all heavenly graces. He possesses them fully only to pour them out upon us with the most abundant generosity.

Experience confirms how effective prayer through the Blessed Sacrament is.

Do you want me to take you all the way to the fountain of holiness? It is from the tabernacle that all the saints begin their pilgrimage to heaven. The tabernacle is always a fertile field producing the Lord’s chosen ones. It is the press from which always flows the wine giving birth to virgins. When our prayer is imbued with the influence of the Sacrament of the Altar, it attains immeasurable value. When your day’s work is over and your weary spirit needs rest, you will hear from the tabernacle the words Martha spoke to Mary: “The Teacher is here and is asking for you”. (John 11:28). Hurry then to the church, kneel at the feet of the Lord Jesus and pray!… And this evening prayer will fill you with a strange sweetness. It will be an evening, an hour of recollection, retreat and silence. It will be the hour when the bride from the Song of Songs says to the bridegroom: “My beloved is mine, and I am his: he pastures his flock among the lilies. Until the day breath, and the shadows flee” (Song of Solomon 2:16-17). This will be the hour when the disciples at Emmaus urged their Divine Master: “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over” (Luke 24:29).

It will be an hour of reflection. The hustle and bustle of the world will fall silent. It will be an hour of silence. Around the tabernacle of the Lord – only angels and you. It will be an hour of silence more eloquent than all human words. For then the Lord Jesus, hidden in the Blessed Sacrament, will entrust his divine teachings to you. If you accept them and meditate on them you will repeat after those disciples whom the Lord Jesus visited in the evening: “Were not our hearts burning while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32)

At the end of a visit to the Blessed Sacrament, it is always necessary to apologise to the Lord Jesus for voluntary absentmindedness. Then to give thanks and to say a tender farewell, asking that He may be visited again soon.

The Christian can always say: “The Lord is near” (Philippians 4:5).

Wherever you are, even if you are far away from the shrine – think of the Blessed Sacrament. The remembrance of Him is sufficient to revive your affections and fervour in prayer.

The Lord God gives each soul the most suitable way of praying best and most effectively and I do not at all wish to change the way you have chosen. I will, however, tell you about my way of praying before the Blessed Sacrament: I begin by paying the deepest reverence and gazing at the altar. I meditate on Jesus Christ. I imagine Him in the tabernacle as my guest and my prisoner. He stays close to me here.

Divine Guest. I welcome Him into my home, just as two sisters once did in Bethany. Both of them worshipped Him together: one by serving Him and the other by praying at His feet. I will try to worship Him with Martha’s fervour and Mary’s devotion. Then, I reflect on the fact that the Lord wished to become my prisoner. And since He has decided never to leave me again, it is so that I may worship Him always. O Divine Prisoner! Thy love has fettered Thee, therefore I’m always close with Thee.

When did the Saviour most powerfully love me? Was it not at the end of His earthly life that He instituted the Blessed Sacrament? In it He united Himself most intimately to me; and in His sacrifice He gave Himself generously for me.

O love of union, of self-sacrifice! And what do I compare to this double love? And I desire to have this love. I will therefore strive to love you, Lord, as you have loved me; to unite myself to you and to sacrifice myself for you. I will unite myself to you, Lord, if I follow in your footsteps and make of myself a sacrifice to you and if I rejoice with Saint Paul in my tribulations.

God’s infinite love for me awakens feelings of gratitude but I have already come to know that His unspeakable grace is the Blessed Sacrament. It surpasses all God’s gifts. It gathers them and gives them back to me.

Oh, what would I be without the Sacrament of the Altar! Without it, my soul would be empty, my heart – cold, my life – sad. All the joys of my soul, all the consolations and all the hopes of a holy life, I receive from Him alone.

How do I repay the Saviour for all the good He gives me through the Blessed Sacrament which is itself an act of divine thanksgiving? I offer to my Heavenly Father this Host without blemish that is more pleasing to Him than the sacrifices of Abel, Abraham and Melchizedek. This exchange in God’s eyes has such a price that with it I will pay myself the entire debt of gratitude.

And I do not forget that for the blessings with which the Saviour showered me, He wants me to give myself to Him in return. How sweetly I offer myself to the Sacrament of the Altar! It is the supreme sacrifice that only pleases God. I therefore unite myself to this Divine Sacrifice. I offer myself to it in order to sacrifice myself with it. I hide myself under its veil to hide my misery. I destroy myself in it so that the only sacrifice left is the one God is pleased to accept. I give to God hidden in the Blessed Sacrament the deepest reverence, adoration, love and thanksgiving. This is the sacrifice of my prayer.

In my opinion, the Blessed Sacrament is the centre of the Christian life. He illumines all our life, all our inclinations and all our affairs!

In this Divine school to which I have introduced you in His name, the Blessed Sacrament will first teach you to pray well. If you desire to acquire the skills of the saints, you should study this great teaching which the Lord Jesus gives you in the Sacrament of the Altar. Learn from Him to pray with Him and if you manage to put into practice this most noble teaching – thank the Lord God. Having learned to pray, you will also know how to live a Christian life. Dear reader! If someone were to tell you that not far from your home you would find a gold mine and that you could go there every day and get as much gold as you could carry in half an hour, what joy it would be for you! And behold, the heavenly King shows us a more precious gold mine. It contains no earthly ore but heavenly and eternal good: the grace of God and the infinite merits of the Redemption. This inestimable treasure is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The smallest grace of it is worth more than the gold of the whole earth.

The tenderest Heart of Jesus invented this miraculous way of granting us the graces of Redemption. It is the loving Heart that prompts Jesus to come down to the altars every day and console us in this exile. It is a loving Heart that impels Him to approach us with these words: “Come to Me, all you who are afflicted and burdened, and I will comfort you […]. Beloved child of My Heart, come to My Sacrifice, and if you are weak, I will heal you, I will clothe you with the robe of holy virtues, I will bring you into the tabernacle of My love”.

God alone cannot do a greater thing than the Mass.

The Mass – the sacrifice on the altar fulfilled – is itself a sublime prayer; there the Saviour prays with us as a Sacrifice and Priest.

The voice of the Saviour’s and Priest’s intercession is louder and louder than all angelic and human songs. Thus the voice of the Sacrifice penetrates the clouds and ascends to God. At Mass, pray also as victim and priest.

As the Lord Jesus offers Himself for us on the altar out of love, let us also become victims out of love for Him.

Our weak nature is still a living sacrifice. God can see that each of us is a burnt offering.

Let us daily sacrifice our trespasses, passions, sensual lusts and sinful inclinations on the altar of our heart and strive to destroy them completely.

The Christian life is a cross and a martyrdom. It is a continuous sacrifice for which we should be constantly ready. So let us daily die to ourselves in order to please the Lord.

Turn all your ailments into a song of love and praise. Then, by offering yourself, you will share in the priesthood of Jesus Christ. When it comes to making a sacrifice of ourselves, God has ordained us all as priests.

Take the chalice of the altar in your hands, pour into it your tears and your blood. O, verily I say unto thee, thy sacrifice united with the Saviour’s Sacrifice shall be the most perfect prayer.

And can we offer a more pleasing sacrifice to God and to us than to attend Mass daily? Sacrifice for Sacrifice; God who sacrifices himself for man deserves that man should sacrifice himself for God. The Mass is the holiest and most pleasing work to God, not only because of the sacrifice which is the Lord Jesus Himself who gives it infinite dignity, but also because the principal sacrifice is Himself. He offers Himself through the hands of the priest.

Whoever attends Mass is also offering it. The priest, as a servant of the Church – acts, speaks and asks on behalf of all the faithful. Therefore he says: “Pray that my sacrifice and yours may be offered”… The assembled people, although they are not priestly in character, they unite themselves with the priest who celebrates the Mass.

The Mass is not only a memorial of the Sacrifice of the Cross. It is truly the same Sacrifice. For it contains the same Sacrifice: the Incarnate Word. The difference is only in the manner of offering. On the Cross it was bloody and in the Mass it is bloodless.

When you are fortunate enough to attend Mass, consider that the Holy Sacrifice offered by the priest is the same Saviour who gave His blood and life for us. Imagine then that you are on Calvary to sacrifice to God the blood and life of His Most Holy Son.

If you are fortunate enough to enter Holy Communion, make yourself aware that you are drinking from the wound of the Heart of Jesus His Holy Blood. What a miracle!

There can be no better prayer than that of our soul inspired by the Eternal Word and the love of the Holy Spirit.

When the Lord Jesus comes to us in Holy Communion, listen to this sublime prayer He makes to His Father: “that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you” (John 17:21).

After Holy Communion, listen diligently to the voice of God within you and kindle your heart in the heavenly fire that consumes you. Have you ever prayed better than when the Saviour rested lovingly in your heart and the Holy Spirit animated your spirit?

O prayer of the Sacrament of the Altar, what infinite power you give to my prayer!

In each of these Masses that are celebrated daily throughout the Church, the faithful have a share. In each they unite, from each they draw fruit, and each they can offer for the intentions of the souls in purgatory. How moving this thought is! It is capable of stimulating and strengthening the confidence of every pious Christian. It should be kept in mind in the midst of work and made a rest for the weary heart.

In order to create the world, God said, “Let it be done”, and the world arose from nothingness. Twenty centuries ago, Mary said: “Let it be done”, and the Eternal Word became man. Every day at Mass, the priest says: “This is my Body”, and the King of kings descends from heaven onto the altar at that moment. These are three great miracles. But the greatest of these is the one that the priest performs by bringing the Son of God to the altar every time he celebrates Mass.

O, awesome power of the priest! O, the incomprehensible goodness of Jesus!

What happiness it is to worship God!

When a sinner devoutly attends Mass, even if his heart is harder than a diamond, Our Lady is able to soften it by immersing it in the blood of the Lamb who is on the altar. Thanks be to God for the immeasurable gifts His goodness has bestowed upon us.

But what thanksgiving can we miserable and sinful people have? Behold, the good Lord has given us a way to pay ourselves worthily of this debt of gratitude. What is that way? By offering the Lord Jesus to Him in the sacrifice of the Mass. In this way we thank the Lord God sufficiently and satisfy Him completely.

The Lord God always gives us His gifts when we ask for them through the merits of the Lord Jesus.

Try to attend Mass every morning. The Most Holy Trinity invites you there because you can best honour Him. Jesus Christ invites you because as a God of love, He wishes you to benefit from the merits of His Passion. Mary, the Mother of Jesus wishes that Son enrich the son of the poor. You are asked by the angels to join with them in the hymn: Holy, Holy… You are encouraged by the saints to become like them.

To the Holy Mass, to the Holy Mass! It is our treasure, our consolation, our strength, our salvation, our perseverance, our crown. Ah, if we knew this gift of God! Prayer is the golden key that opens heaven.

As soon as you awake from sleep, make a pious conflagration. With this you will remind yourself that the Saviour died for you on the cross to raise you to the life of grace.

Prayer time is the most precious time. Spare no time for good prayer and then you will truly benefit from your work.

Our thoughts, feelings and actions should be our daily prayer which ascends to the glory of our Creator.

When we pray, the Lord God gives us either the grace we ask for or any other grace He considers useful for us.

When we make requests, the Lord opens his hand and gives us more than we ask for. He will not reproach us for our ingratitude towards Himself. For when we pray, He forgets all our sins.

Eternal God! Make me well understand that my salvation depends on praying and asking You for graces… I beg You, O God, in the name of Jesus, grant me great sorrow for my sins, perseverance in Your holy grace, a happy death, heaven, and above all give me the gift above gifts – Your holy love and perfect assent to Your will. O Mary, thy prayers receive all that thou wilt… Pray for me!

Water is necessary for plants that would wither unwatered, prayer is just as necessary for you if you do not want to get lost.

On one hand, you cannot fulfil the commandments and sanctify yourself without God’s grace; on the other hand, God does not want to give His grace to those who do not ask for it.

God gives us graces such as the call to faith, the encouragement to repentance but the others – especially the grace of ultimate perseverance in good – he gives only to those who ask for them.

Whoever prays will certainly be saved but whoever does not pray will be condemned. Through prayer we gain courage for works that sometimes seem to surpass our human strength. Therefore, do not cease to pray, even if it seems that God does not hear your cry.

O my Saviour, how could I have lived in the past so forgetful of you? You wanted to shower me with favours and I thought only of satisfying my passions. Lord, forget so much ingratitude and have mercy on me! Grant me perseverance, give me the grace to constantly call upon Your help, so that I may no longer offend You. Mary, Queen and my hope, hear me through the love you have for Jesus.

In order to pray well, one must first humble oneself “for God opposes the proud but bestows favour on the humble” (1 Peter 5:5).

The prayer of the humble pierces the heavens; it will not give itself away lest the Almighty cast His gaze upon it. Even though we have been culpable in the past, “my sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit; a contrite, humbled heart, O God, you will not scorn” (Ps 51:19).

It is necessary to pray with confidence. This is why the Lord Jesus tells us to always call God Father in prayer, so that we go to Him with the kind of confidence with which a son goes to his father. Anyone who prays in this way receives everything.

St. Thomas says that prayer is not based on our merits but on the goodness of God. The Saviour reassures us by saying: “whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you” (John 16:23). It is as if he were saying: Sinners, you have no merit of your own but mine is in my Father’s hand; ask therefore in my name and I promise that you will receive whatever you ask for. It is necessary that prayer should be persistent and that this persistence should almost border on insistence. Scripture teaches: “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17); “Be vigilant at all times and pray” (Luke 21:36); “Pray always without becoming weary” (Luke 18:1). The Saviour wants us to understand that we are to imitate the beggars who do not tire of asking and to insist until they finally receive something. St. John Climacus argues that prayer inflicts God in a certain way. “The Lord God likes this method and wishes us to use it often” says Tertullian.

“God is more eager to grant us benefits than we are to receive them”, says St. Augustine. We know what is the cause of this. God by his very nature is goodness itself. Therefore, with great readiness He wishes to give us a portion of the riches of His grace”, says Saint Leo.

Saint Magdalene de Pazzi said that the Lord God is grateful to the soul that prays because it gives Him the opportunity to witness and grant benefits.

Take recourse especially to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Saint Bernard encourages to seek graces through the intercession of Mary. For she finds all that she seeks and cannot be disappointed.

My God, I trust that you have already forgiven me. But my enemies will not cease to insist on me until death. Unless you help me, I will be lost again. Through the merits of your Son, Jesus Christ, grant me the grace of final perseverance. Do not allow me to be separated from you. I am certain that in trusting Your promises, You will grant me this perseverance if I do not cease to ask for it. I fear lest in temptation, I fall again. O Mary, my Mother, grant me the grace of always resorting to your Son and to you when I am in danger of losing God.

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