Come, Holy Spirit! First, I wish all of you a blessed weekend! We celebrate the founding of our Catholic Church with Pentecost. Let us invoke the Holy Spirit every day, but with special love and gratitude this day! Second, I encourage you sanctify Memorial Day by attending HolyMass. You will find out local options in this bulletin. Finally, I offer the continuation of an article on prayer by Servant of God, Fr. John Harden, S.J.:
“No Prayer No Salvation: We need prayer therefore as individuals and as groups to remain in God's friendship. Without prayer we will lose the divine life we possess, and more obviously, we shall not grow in the life we already have. In other words, no prayer, no salvation. This is the basic reason why we are seeing such tragedies among once apparently strong believers. But being a believer is no guarantee of remaining one. They did not pray, or pray enough, or pray with sufficient constancy or perseverance, so the inevitable happened. They lacked the humility to admit their impotency to keep God's commandments by themselves. In a word they lacked the grace they needed, and they lacked it because they failed to pray. And we dare not say that God owes us the grace; that is a contradiction in terms. Grace is precisely that which God does not owe us. That is why we correctly speak of begging.
One who begs asks for that to which he has no right. That is grace! We are beggars by the definition of our supernatural destiny which brings us back to the first reason why we have to pray. We are creatures made to possess the infinite God but He will not be possessed except by those who, when they die, are in the grace of God. They will get that grace and retain it only if they pray.
The second reason why we need to pray is because we have a fallen human nature and the correct word is not "falling" but "fallen." Sure we have been justified and, please God, restored to God's friendship, but that does not change our nature from having been and being a fallen nature.
As a consequence of our fallen state, we have all sorts of unruly desires and fears that we call our passions. We need divine help to cope with these urges which differ with different people. You might almost say what distinguishes us as persons is that each one of us has his or her own special unique passions. What turns one person on turns another person off. But, although they differ so much in their variety, they are all fundamentally the same passions. Except for Christ and His Blessed Mother – we are certain they were exempt from the stain of original sin and therefore had no concupiscences – the rest of us must either pray constantly for the grace to overcome our concupiscence or we shall give in to our irrational drives. Anger, pride, lust, covetousness, envy, sloth and gluttony are not only the names of the seven capital sins, they are the names of the seven capital drives. They are the seven deadly enemies of our soul synthesized by the Apostle in that one simple word, our “flesh.” And these drives, let it be said, are not only in the flesh, though they go by the generic name of the "flesh," because they are in our fallen human natures.
These drives, irrational, maddening, unreasonable, persistent, are not only urges of the body; they are also urges of the spirit. It is not only that our bodies are fallen – our nature is fallen and that means body and spirit. And there is no conquering these enemies or even controlling their hostility except by the grace of God to be obtained through incessant prayer. Why incessant prayer? Because we have incessant drives! That is why we should not stop praying, pardon the expression, until a moment after we have died.
People are not naturally humble. Did you know that? People are naturally proud. Memorize that! Human nature is naturally proud. When you see humility say to yourself, "that is grace walking," and it is not a woman's name.
People are not naturally chaste. They are naturally lustful, or as the expression goes, they are natural. Amen! So they are! That is what natural means – being lustful. They acquire and maintain chastity only if they pray and pray as much as they need to resist the onslaughts of the flesh.
We are not naturally gentle. We are not naturally self-less. We are not naturally generous or industrious or abstemious or honest. We are not. My definition of a split second is the time it takes for an empty seat on the New York subways to be occupied. More than once I have stood in front of a person who was sitting and got up. But, supernaturally, I allow the person to get up. I was too late! That is nature – raw human nature. Left to our own devices – we do not have to work at it – we just naturally become ill-tempered, greedy, envious, lazy and self-indulgent. Only the grace of God can make us otherwise, and this grace is only available if we pray. As though that were not enough, there is one more malevolent reason why we must pray and that is the devil. Prayer is dreadfully necessary because the evil spirit is so active among the sons and daughters of men. No one who sees what is happening in the world today, including what is going on in the Catholic Church, should have any doubt that the devil is more than ever at work in our times and phenomenally successful in leading not just individuals but multitudes – it would seem whole nations – away from God. With divine assistance available through prayer we can resist the evil one, but alone and without prayer we shall be overcome.”
Through the intercession of Mary, the Spouse of the Holy Spirit, St. Joseph, St. Michael and St. Paul, may our good Lord renew all human hearts through the power of the Holy Spirit!