In one of my Lectio Divina meditations (Philippians 2:5), I chanced to think about why I have so much difficulty in concentrating when I pray. It does not happen always, but when it does, it is irritating and distracting. It takes an act of my will to jump-start me out of my lethargy and get back on track. When I think of it, it might be one of the reasons the Church Universal has so many people who say they are Catholic, but when they have to put up or shut up, they revert to being a member of a social organization, like the Moose or Elks.

I look around at the young people, bored out of their minds at Eucharist or, if they even go at all, to a Teen group. An exception is the program Life Teen that we have at our parish of Good Shepherd. I just began my journey as a Lay Cistercian, affiliated with Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Monastery (Trappist, Conyers, Georgia). I have noticed that my spirituality has deepened and matured, even at a ripe old age of 78. What I struggle with, but have accepted as part of the price of Original Sin, is trying to mean what I say in my prayers. Often, ritual prayers sail right over my head. I am sincere enough in being present at the Eucharist, but the fragrant treasures right under my nose sometimes are not even sniffed.

Let me share an example from the Morning Prayer for today (Tuesday, August 13, 2019 at

Psalm 67
People of all nations will worship the Lord
You must know that God is offering his salvation to all the world (Acts 28:28).

O God, be gracious and bless us
and let your face shed its light upon us.
So will your ways be known upon earth
and all nations learn your saving help.

Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you.

Let the nations be glad and exult
for you rule the world with justice.
With fairness you rule the peoples,
you guide the nations on earth.

Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you.

The earth has yielded its fruit
for God, our God, has blessed us.
May God still give us his blessing
till the ends of the earth revere him.

Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:
— as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.


Be gracious and bless us, Lord, and let your face shed its light on us, so that we can make you known with reverence and bring forth a harvest of justice.

Ant. Lord, let the light of your face shine upon us.”

Meaning what you say means:

  • This is a prayer, not a poem to be recited.
  • You and God are talking to each other.
  • When the Psalm-prayer is recited at the end of the Psalm, you are genuinely asking God to be gracious to you, here and now, in reality and not in fantasy.
  • You want to make God known to others and bring forth a harvest of justice.
  • You don’t just mouth the words, you desire it with all your heart, all your mind, and all your strength. This prayer before you is the most important communication you will have with God all day so you want to make the most of it.

Meaning what I say is sometimes a struggle, but one that I gladly contend with because it allows me to choose the deeper level of awareness of God.

  • Say the Word
  • Pray the Word
  • Share the Word
  • Be what you say, pray, and share
  • There are no words to approach the Word; it is listening with the ear of the heart (St. Benedict’s prologue). It is being present to that which is.

Prayer takes work, concentration, focus, and most of all, love, that the words you say become who you are. This is another way of saying I try to move from self to God.


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