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Prayer from the Hilltop

Dear OLPH,

Today (Sunday 10/20) my annual retreat begins with the monks of St. Vincent’s Archabbey in Latrobe, PA. Every year priests are expected to spend a week in prayer with our Lord. I look forward to the time to be present with the Divine Presence. Please pray for me - that I will return refreshed and strengthened for the journey ahead.

In the Gospel today (Lk 18:1-8) “Jesus told his disciples a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary.” Suitable words for a week on retreat! To pray always…. Back in the summer we spoke about prayer as “tuning in” to the ever-present love of God. At its simplest, prayer is the raising of the mind and heart to God. Words are unnecessary. Instead, a glance of the heart yearning for the everflowing love and mercy that the Holy Trinity radiates.

Saint Paul makes a similar point when he teaches the Romans about the power of the Spirit to put voice to what is in our hearts. He admits: “For we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes with inexpressible groanings,” (8:26). What a phenomenon! The Holy Spirit helps us to pray, forms the prayer in our hearts, and  speaks for us to the Father. What a gracious gift! Even our prayer is not dependent on us, and when we open ourselves to the Spirit, he makes a deeper prayer possible.

In the example of Moses, we witness a man who remains constant in prayer. As the hilltop intercessor (Ex 17:8-13), Moses lifts his hands in prayer to God in order to intercede for Joshua and the troops engaged in battle below. Yet he cannot do it alone. Aaron and Hur support his hands so that Moses can remain constant. This week I am atop the hill with father Moses in prayer, lifting up my hands for our parish family.  The life and rhythm of my friends, the monks, support me in prayer. 

Back in Maple Shade the support of intercessory prayer is so important as well. Let us pray for one another amid our daily routines. I do pray for our parish everyday, many times a day. Please pray for her as well, and remember me in your prayers. May we all be knit together in the great quilt of prayers sent to our Father with the grace and power of the Holy Spirit.

The last words of our Gospel today are eerie, almost disturbing: “But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” They are a challenge to us to “keep the faith” or to build the faith, or - to borrow words from Paul, “Remain faithful to what you have learned and believed,” (2 Tm 3:14). Our faith is delicate, the size of a mustard seed it is vulnerable as a seedling. We must protect, preserve and nurture our faith. Our readings and reflection today suggest that we feed our faith, above all, by being faithful to a life of prayer. Please join me in praying for our parish family.

May God in his Mercy, bless us!

Fr. Wilson

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