May the thought of the baby Jesus, our savior, overcome all other thoughts on the negative side!
I happened to read this from St. Augustine in the Office of Readings. I thought it was amazing, even though I must have read it many times without noticing it!In case you don’t know it, here it is:
St. Augustine Office of Readings, Friday of 3rd Week of Advent
St Augustine on Psalm 37(38)
Your very desire is your prayer
I have roared out with the groaning of my heart. There is a secret groaning, which is not heard by man: yet if the thought of some strong desire has taken so strong hold of the heart, that the wound of the inner man finds expression in some uttered exclamation, everyone wonders why. A man says to himself, “Perhaps this is the cause of his groaning? Perhaps this thing or that thing has happened to him?” But who can know the answer except the one before whose eyes and ears he groaned? So the psalmist says I roared out with the groaning of my heart because if men ever hear a man’s groanings they hear only the groaning of the flesh; the groans within the heart are silent.
And who observed and noticed the cause of his groaning? All my desire is in front of you. It cannot be before men because they cannot see the heart, but still the psalm says all my desire is in front of you. If your desire is laid before him then the Father, who sees in secret, will grant it to you.
For that very desire of your heart is your prayer; and if your desire continues uninterrupted, then so does your prayer. It was not in vain that the Apostle said Pray without ceasing. Can we be always bending the knee, prostrating the body, or lifting up our hands, that he says Pray without ceasing? If that is what prayer means then I say that we cannot do it without ceasing.
There is another inward kind of prayer without ceasing, which is the desire of the heart. Whatever activity you happen to be engaged in, if you only long for that Sabbath then you do not cease to pray. If you do not want to pause in prayer then never pause in your longing.
Your continuous desire is your continuous prayer. If you cease to desire than you will have fallen silent in your prayer. Who are those who have fallen silent? Those of whom it is said Because iniquity will abound, the love of many will grow cold.
The freezing of love is the silence of the heart; the burning of love is the cry of the heart. If love continues then you are still lifting up your voice; if you are always lifting up your voice, you are always longing after something; if you are always longing, it is the Sabbath rest you are thinking of.
And all my desire is before Thee. How can we suppose that our desire is before him, but our very “groaning” is not before him? How can that be, since our desire itself finds its expression in “groaning”?
And so comes the line And my groaning is not hidden from you. From you indeed it is not hidden; but it is hidden from many men. The servant of God sometimes seems to be saying in humility, And my groaning is not hidden from you. Sometimes also he seems to smile. Is then that longing dead in his heart? If however there is the desire within, there is the “groaning” also. It does not always find its way to the ears of man; but it never ceases to sound in the ears of God.
The pastor, who speaks Spanish perfectly, from previously being a priest in Mexico, though he is Italian origin from the East Coast of the US, is doing something wonderful. He set up a foundation of wealthy good Catholics to contribute to renovating the whole neighborhood around the Church. For starters, last summer, he had all the single-parent kids who would be out on the street at the parish parking lots playing sports and getting catechism, and a free lunch, supplied by the parish and supervised by many teen parishioners and others.
At the posada I went to, he told me that this Sunday before Christmas, all the local kids from the streets will come for a Christmas dinner with their parents; and someone has donated tons of free bicycles for the kids. This will be on local TV, so many will see what a great parish it is to return to if they are lapsed Catholics, which most local Hispanics are!
I figure I know enough Spanish to go around with a hispanic missionary couple door to door and try to bring them back. For those of you who know a little Spanish, it seems to me that a gringa anciana might intrigue them.