Infinite love poured from his Sacred Heart, and the phrase “Love is not loved” came to mind. Pathos struck me. Mother Marie des Douleurs wrote in her Mary’s Way of the Cross, speaking for Our Lady: “How sad for my Son to seek with so great a thirst one look from one who remains distracted, dreaming, or even laughing with foolishness while he breaks his heart and his body on the way of the cross.”
I have to say that usually many people fill our church with heartfelt prayer. So many come that we are able to keep the church open, day and night, for continual Eucharistic adoration. But what struck me yesterday afternoon was the fact that Our Divine Savior will remain on the altar for even one person, one simple woman of color, whispering her prayers in Spanish, the weakest and most forgotten of souls in this city of money, tech, and raw human willpower. Thousands of people pass the open doors of our church every hour on Geary Boulevard. Some are on foot, others in the huge double city busses and some on the big red tour busses. Some race past on motorcycles and others in quiet electric cars. Some of them look inside, and some make the sign of the cross, but only one old woman had actually come in yesterday afternoon. “You have met him many times,” Mother Marie continued in her Way of the Cross, “but you did not know it, because your spirit was full of plans, anxieties, and your own will.” Despite our insouciance, Jesus stays with us. He comes to us, whether we come to Him or not.
He comes into our homes as well, whenever two or three gather in His name. Most of you reading this, I’ll bet, are not either a priest or a little old lady with lots of time to visit the church. You have families and jobs and social obligations so here are few suggestions on how to deepen your prayer life this Lent:
1.) Prepare for Sunday Mass by reading and meditating on the Scripture readings before Sunday Mass.
- If you attend Mass in the Ordinary Form, you could read the prayers and readings for a monthly devotional such as Magnificat with your family. You can also print out the readings or find them in your own bibles or on the US Bishops’ website.
- If you attend Latin Mass in the Extraordinary Form, you could print the Mass Propers at home and highlight the essential parts of each prayer with your children. I know at least one family that does this with their eight- and six-year olds. Both parents and children get much more out of the Latin Mass, having already read, prayed about, and discussed all of the prayers and readings at home.
2.) Pick a book for spiritual reading this Lent. Among the many fine books I recommend In the School of the Holy Spirit, or Searching for and Maintaining Peace by Fr. Jacques Philippe or Dominus Est by Bishop Athanasius Schneider. Lives of the saints make good family reading as well, such as any of the Vision Series of Saints’ Lives written for teens.
3.) Learn some new prayers. I know families with young children who take the time to memorize the English & Latin, spoken & sung versions of their favorite prayers, such as the Pater Noster, Ave Maria, Salve Regina, and in Easter time, The Gloria, etc. EWTN has a nice list of prayers here. You may find some Latin prayers here.
4.) Grow in your love for our Lord in the Eucharist Even if you can’t attend daily Mass, you can attend Mass “spiritually” by:
- Being sorry for your sins and praying the Act of Contrition
- Praying an Act of Spiritual Communion
If you have a bit more time for your “spiritual Mass” you could add St. Thomas Aquinas’ Prayers before and after the Act of Spiritual Communion:
St. Thomas Aquinas’ Prayer Before Communion
Almighty and Eternal God, behold I come to the sacrament of Your only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. As one sick I come to the Physician of life; unclean, to the Fountain of mercy; blind, to the Light of eternal splendor; poor and needy to the Lord of heaven and earth. Therefore, I beg of You, through Your infinite mercy and generosity, heal my weakness, wash my uncleanness, give light to my blindness, enrich my poverty, and clothe my nakedness. May I thus receive the Bread of Angels, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, with such reverence and humility, contrition and devotion, purity and faith, purpose and intention, as shall aid my soul’s salvation.
Grant, I beg of You, that I may receive not only the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of our Lord, but also its full grace and power. Give me the grace, most merciful God, to receive the Body of your only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, born of the Virgin Mary, in such a manner that I may deserve to be intimately united with His mystical Body and to be numbered among His members. Most loving Father, grant that I may behold for all eternity face to face Your beloved Son, whom now, on my pilgrimage, I am about to receive under the sacramental veil, who lives and reigns with You, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end. Amen.
St. Thomas Aquinas’ Prayer After Communion
I thank You, Lord, Almighty Father, Everlasting God, for having been pleased, through no merit of mine, but of Your great mercy alone, to feed me, a sinner, and Your unworthy servant, with the precious Body and Blood of Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. I pray that this Holy Communion may not be for my judgment and condemnation, but for my pardon and salvation. Let this Holy Communion be to me an armor of faith and a shield of good will, a cleansing of all vices, and a rooting out of all evil desires. May it increase love and patience, humility and obedience, and all virtues. May it be a firm defense against the evil designs of all my visible and invisible enemies, a perfect quieting of all the desires of soul and body. May this Holy Communion bring about a perfect union with You, the one true God, and at last enable me to reach eternal bliss when You will call me. I pray that You bring me, a sinner, to the indescribable Feast where You, with Your Son and the Holy Spirit, are to Your saints true light, full blessedness, everlasting joy, and perfect happiness. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.