Most Reverend Jerome E. Listecki
Archbishop of Milwaukee
Last Sunday in Luke’s Gospel, the disciples of Jesus ask Him to teach them how to pray. There was a signature to the prayer that they were seeking. It’s not that the disciples weren’t praying. Rather, it’s that they wanted to pray the way Jesus would direct them. They wanted His mark on their prayer.
Looking back at my life, I ask myself that question, “Who taught me how to pray?” Obviously, it began with my parents, kneeling at the bedside and offering my prayers for those who were close to me. Even though I was small and powerless, it was comforting to know that God would listen to my prayers and that I could contribute to the well-being of family and friends who were in need of assistance. There was a signature, and of course, it had the mark of Jesus. There was the reminder by family to be thankful at meals, so we bowed for grace and occasionally I was privileged to lead.
During my school years, every class day began with prayer. The sisters were committed to developing a rich spiritual life in their students, and many of us failed to appreciate what they were providing. However, it was a discipline. It was a way of life that would focus on the realization that there was a larger world waiting for all of us, and therefore, our ultimate attention should always be on God. Through prayer, we were introduced to the rosary and many Marian feasts. We brought a crown of flowers, sang hymns and processed in honor of Mary, our Mother. The expression of prayer placed us in a unique relationship with the divine. Prayer is that intimate conversation with God.
However, there was no one single prayer in my life – and, I would offer in the lives of all Catholics – that surpassed the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. This was the action that gathered my family, and the families of my neighbors, in church on Sunday. In my small mind as a kid, I realized this must be an important event if it brought my father – this World War II Marine veteran – to his knees. We forget how important our witness to God is, and more specifically, how important our witness to Jesus is, to the young and to the rest of our society.
Today, I worry that the loss of the importance of Sunday worship for us and our families is not only detrimental to individual spirituality, but it also limits the influence we have on the next generation and their ability to experience the depth of God’s love. No prayer has more of the signature of our Lord Jesus than the Mass. As His disciples, the Eucharist is our Thanksgiving for Jesus giving Himself over completely to us. It is His love, His life and His prayer that is given to us – His disciples – so that in His name we might LOVE ONE ANOTHER.
Note: This blog originally appeared as the July 29, 2019 "Love One Another" email sent to Catholics throughout the Archdiocese of Milwaukee by Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki. If you are interested in signing up for these email messages, please click here.