Editorial: Prayer Tips from the Saints

hands in prayer

There is a saying in Proverbs that always tickles me, no matter what thicket of concerns I happen to be snared in at the time. “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise…” (Proverbs 13:20). The faces of friends, writers, and saints who have kept me company through the long years flit through my head like the pages of a family album. 

And I am thankful. I have always felt sorry for those who have never had the way or the wanting to befriend the saints. These holy but imperfect souls come in every description, ethnic background, and personality.

They all have something to teach us, something that draws us closer to our God and to our true selves. Because I so enjoy connecting with the saints. It’s like being asked to spend time with my own family or dearest friends. Who could not find a favorite in the likes of Clare and Francis of Assisi, Thérèse of Lisieux and Ignatius of Loyola, Teresa of Avila, and John of the Cross? These six are among the Church’s wisest of guides. And they were just waiting to be asked, as the unnamed disciple asked Jesus himself, “teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1).

Theoretically, we all want to pray more as soon as “time allows.” Yet prayer tends to get preempted by things beyond our control. What we fail to see is that these events cannot hold a candle to the worthiness of prayer. So, we count on God’s willingness to wait, without complaint, for our promised attention down the road. I do not believe that anyone has ever put it better than Barbara Brown Taylor, in her book An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith. She nails it when she observes, “To say I love God but I do not pray much is like saying I love life but I do not breathe much.”

I was led to pray with Francis on Mount La Verna as he begged God for the privilege of sharing Christ’s suffering on the cross. His prayer was so fervent that it generated the stigmata for Francis, and a more mature appreciation of suffering for me. Years later, when my only son took his own life, I came to understand what it meant to bear the wounds of Christ in my heart, my mind, my memory.

I was led to pray with Clare at her bare-bones enclosure in San Damiano where she planted her soul in silence and praised God in the Liturgy of the Hours. Her example encouraged me to create my own monastic cell in a corner of whatever home our oft-transplanted family occupied.

I was led to pray with Ignatius as he imaginatively applied his physical senses to recreating the Upper Room where the Lord Jesus hosted his Last Supper with his friends. And the saint and I were among them, hearing Jesus’s voice as he blessed the bread and wine, tasting his Body and Blood, feeling our hearts grow heavy with the threat of his arrest.

I was led to pray with Thérèse at the Carmel of Lisieux where she lived her Little Way of self-conquest and simple conversation with the Lord. She and I consoled each other when Jesus appeared not to hear a word we uttered.

I was led to offer the Lord’s Prayer with Teresa at St. Joseph’s Chapel in Avila, where La Madre taught me to enter into this familiar prayer’s inner meaning. With her help, I was able to turn an often-empty vocal prayer into a meditation on filial love, trust, and ever-willing forgiveness. I was led to pray with John of the Cross as he, in contemplation, ascended Mount Carmel, emptying himself of all concerns and anxieties along the arduous way. I followed behind him, hoping to be filled at the bubbling mountain spring of God’s surpassing love, wisdom, and delight.

For decades, the saints have been my mentors in prayer, faith companions whom the centuries cannot separate, beloved friends bound by Wisdom who “in every generation…passes into holy souls and makes them friends of God, and prophets” (Wisdom 7:27). Our saints await us, gathered under the Spirit of Wisdom’s bright wings. Let’s pray.

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5 thoughts on “Editorial: Prayer Tips from the Saints”

  1. I real appreciate this entry about having a relationship with the saints. It reminded me that I have been neglecting conversing with St. Therese of Lisieux . Back in 1980 I had a conversation with her while I was reviving a rose bush in my garden. She reminded me to Let Go and Let God. We had a long talk and she advised me to work n myself and not concern myself with my husband’s problems. Shortly after time my husband was led by God to join AA. A man he didn’t even know; who worked with him in a large postal facility; took him to his first meeting AND went with him daily to 90 meetings in 90 days. My dear love was a 40 yr sober member when he passed in 2020. Many people who visited his wake told me my husband “saved their lives”. Of course we are well aware the Lord allowed my husband to be a good example to them. He had a great sponsor named Tom B. who helped many many souls over a period of many years. Praise God for Bill W. and Dr. Bob who were led to create the AA program. I also went to Al-Anon for several years and use the program as my way of life. I got off on a tangent (God’s Will ?); I’m sure that all these events were inspired by my conversation with St. Therese. To this day I love to occupy a pew near a stained glass window of St. Therese and often converse with her before, during and sometimes after mass. As you can tell I love to write; I’ve been inspired anew to write a book @ all the wonderful things God has done for me. I may have to live a lot longer to write @ All of them. I’m 76, so I’d better get with it !!! Peace, Love and Joy—Cathy

    1. God bless you. I also went through a similar trial. It often seemed God was not to be found in my pain. St. Teresa was my go to Saint as was Padre Pio. My husband later told me he was on his way to get a gun and commit suicide. Years of drugs and alcohol left him empty. His little brother saw him and asked, ‘do you want to live a better life?’ My husband responded yes. His little brother said, “be ready I’ll be by at 6:00 to pick you up.” His brothers in AA and NA remained his lifeline till I also lost him. He was two weeks shy of making 15 years of sobriety. Nothing was more important than his God and his sobriety. Thank you for your comment.

  2. Lord Jesus Christ, open our ears to hear the Good news of your Kingdom and set our hearts free to love and serve you joyfully. May nothing keep us from following you with all our heart, mind, and strength. Amen.

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