First, a personal note. Let me thank you – the people of St. Monica – for affording me the opportunity to attend the convocation. It was your generosity that provided me the financial ability to attend without worry (which is not the case with all pastors/priests at several parishes).
Second, the conference was a tremendous boost to the priests. They’re pretty weary and have been beat up over the past years. We still have several rounds of pending “Parish Planning Area” studies (including St. Monica) which always leads to some anxious moments. At the Hershey Lodge, where we stayed, the priests enjoyed fellowship, reconnecting with men whom they might not have seen in quite some time, good food, excellent talks and the ability – for three days – to just relax. It was wonderful and I thank you.
If there was one item where Kelly said that priest/pastors need to focus on in terms of their parishioners, it was prayer. He said his research shows that (in some cases) up to 80% of parishioners do not pray regularly or, in many cases, do not pray at all. Some reasons: They don’t know how. They have misconceptions about what prayer is. They have misconceptions about what prayer does. They may be adults but they’re still praying like they did when they were children. They’re afraid of feeling foolish. They want to but don’t know where to start.
In his 2012 book The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic, Matthew Kelly presents an adaptation of St. Ignatius’s “Examen” or daily examination of conscience. This is a simple way to pray that takes just a small amount of time and could change your perspective on daily life.
Gratitude: Begin by thanking God in personal dialogue for whatever you are most grateful for today.
Awareness: Revisit the times in the past twenty-four hours when you were and were not the-best-version-of-yourself. Talk to God about these situations and what you learned from them.
Significant Moments: Identify something you experienced today and explore what God might be trying to say to you through that event (or person).
Peace: Ask God to forgive you for any wrong you have committed (against yourself, another person, or him) and to fill you with a deep and abiding peace.
Freedom: Speak with God about how he is inviting you to change your life, so that you can experience the freedom to be the-best-version-of-yourself.
Others: Lift up to God anyone you feel called to pray for today, asking God to bless and guide them.
Finish by praying the Our Father.
Speaking of priests and prayer ….our friends at “Catholic Leadership Institute” mention that “The goal of the Prayer Process is to trigger a regular and meaningful conversation with God.” CLI knows that nothing we do is possible without prayer. On their website they have a link to the Prayer Power Society. As they say:
Prayer Power has over 7,000 members throughout the Archdiocese of Philadelphia committed to praying before the Blessed Sacrament for priests, vocations and families. Before the passing of founder Peggie O’Neill, CLI’s President Matthew Manion agreed to ensure that the Prayer Power Society would live on. It is in that spirit that the Catholic Leadership Institute chose to combine its multitude of clergy alumni with this prayer movement.
More than 2,500 priests have participated in the leadership and consulting programs at CLI. When thanking us for the training provided to them, these men have consistently asked for our continued prayers. We pray for them at the Catholic Leadership Institute main office every day at 2:45pm. By signing up for the Prayer Power Society, you too have generously agreed to answer their call for support through prayer. Each participant in this program will be assigned one priest to lift up in intercessory prayer.
Through the Prayer Power program, we hope to provide support for all the priests who have answered God’s call to serve, building each of them up one-by-one. You will receive quarterly emails from us with some fun suggestions on ways to pray for your Prayer Power priest.
Take a few minutes out of your day to pray for us. It works and we can use it .