05 August 2009

Prayer and Love

In yesterday's Office of Readings, St. John Vianney recommended prayer and love. There is nothing very newsworthy in that: Guess what, a saint recommends prayer! And yet, I think that if more people would follow his recommendation we would not see a news report that 10% of Americans are on antidepressants. That is a lot of people who feel depressed.

Here is my prescription. Pray for at least 10 minutes in the morning. I will amplify that a bit. Pray with your thoughts -- "mental prayer" -- by allowing yourself to be in God's presence and staying there, beginning with 10 minutes a day. A good way to do this is to pray by thinking about a Gospel text, perhaps the Gospel of the day. Allow the time to increase as you get used to it, up to 30 minutes. Most importantly, do it every day! In the morning.


Jenny said...

I have found that a good time to pray is while commuting to/from work. I have to spend the time anyway and it leaves me with much higher spirits than talk radio.

Anonymous said...

I see where you are going with this, Father, and I agree reservedly. In many cases, though, depression is caused by clinical issues, not spiritual ones ... we wouldn't advise someone with a bad heart to pray instead of taking presciptions or having an operation. I hope someone who is clinically depressed doesn't read this and go off his or her meds to pray instead. (Prayer can heal, miracles do happen. But let's hope they stay on their meds while trying prayer.)

Anonymous said...

Ummm...I'm not sure if I should
weigh in on this but all of us
will hit a wall some day and
having established a prayer life
will help us cope whether with the
help of meds or not. St. Theresa
of Avila wrote in ITERIOR CASTLES
that prayer was the entry into
the first mansion which leads to
union with God. She did not
promise smooth sailing only that
the journey was worth it.
Other saints have spoken of
prayer beautifully. St. Augustine
wrote, "The wonder of prayer is
revealed beside the well where we
come seeking water; there, Christ comes to meet every human being. It is he who first seeks us and
asks us for a drink. Jesus thirsts; his asking arises from the depths of God's desire for us.
Whether we realize it or not,
prayer is the encounter of God's thirst with ours. God thirsts that we may thirst for him."
"Contemplative prayer in my opinion is nothing else than a close sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to
be alone with him who we know loves us." St. Theresa of Avila.
"For me, prayer is a surge of the
heart; it is a simple look turned
toward heaven, it is a cry of
recognition and of love, embracing
both trial and joy." St. Theresa
of Lisieux.
Each of these saints saw Jesus
as a person not an idea or a
distant god. So much of our
loneliness or sense of isolation
that can lead to depression stems
from not feeling connected to
others. In prayer, we are connected to the One who made us,
who knows us better than we know
ourselves and loves us more than
we love ourselves.
We can start by thanking God.
The Magnificate is a wonderful
prayer of thanksgiving. The
Gospels, as Father said, are a
good way to start. The psalms
can be seen as a prayer book also. They contain every emotion and longing that a person can feel. It is as if God gave us
the words he wants to hear and
that will help us to be healed
even in the darkest recesses
of our hearts.
The Rosary can be a wonderful
prayer because it engages the
senses. We see the colors of the beads, we can feel their
textures and we can hear the words
of the prayers when spoken or the
clicking of the beads. I even
had one that was made from
crushed rose petals so that it
carried a scent. It is a prayer
that works with our humanity.
Meds can help us get through
difficult times that for some can last a lifetime. But prayer can
help us to forgive, put the past
behind us and have the courage to
take the next best step. More
importantly, it can help us to
be conformed to God's will for us and see others as God sees them.

Frog's hair said...

Just to follow up on the first Anonymous -- I don't think that I suggested that anyone not take medicine that has been prescribed for him. I did suggest prayer. I think that if there were more prayer, there would be fewer requests for medication, for many of the reasons suggested by the second Anonymous.

Frog's hair said...

Let me amplify a bit. I am not so sure that there is a clear wall between "clinical" issues and "spiritual" ones when it comes to emotional health. Our emotions have a great deal of overlap between body and soul in our composite humanity. We are both/and not either/or creatures. While certainly not suggesting that anyone "go off his or her meds," I do think that going off one's prayer is a greater danger.