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IHS Twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost A.D. 2019 Ave Maria!

"The girl is not dead, but sleepeth."

The resurrection of a young woman is described in each of the synoptic Gospels. She was about twelve years of age, and the daughter of Jairus, the head of a Synagogue in Galilee.[1]

"And when Jesus was come into the house of the ruler, and saw the minstrels and the multitude making a tumult, he said: Give place: for the girl is not dead, but sleepeth.... And when the multitude was put forth, he went in, and took her by the hand. And the maid arose.”[2]

In his commentary On the Church Year, Father Leonard Goffine observes that our Lord didn't work this great miracle until "the minstrels and the multitude” were put out of the house.[3] Of course, Jesus is capable of working miracles under any circumstances—noisy or quiet—but here is giving us a lesson in how we are to pray for the things that we need. Father Goffine tells us that we should always take the time to compose our prayers in “faith, confidence, and humility.” Various translations say that people had been “making a din,” “making a rout,” or “making a tumult” in the house where Jesus had been summoned. All three of these words indicate a state of confusion, and probably would have people trying to outdo each other in making noise. None of this is conducive to faith, confidence, and humility.

From this we should learn to carefully chose the surroundings for our own prayers. Ideally, we can find a quiet place and time. For some, that will take a little effort. We may need to leave the house or retire to a room where we can be alone. We may want to come to church, where we can enjoy both peace and the presence of our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.

When I pray the Rosary, I like to walk outside in the cool of the morning or evening, where I can hear the crickets and the chirping of the birds—the walking helps to dissipate that nervous energy that comes from standing or sitting still in one place. I go early or late enough to avoid any significant crowds of people. The complexity of God's handiwork in nature tends to engender confidence in His powers, while simultaneously reinforcing our humility. Of course, not everyone is alike, so you must experiment enough to find out what works for you.

Some people do best praying with friends or family—a wonderful thing if it works for you. Certainly, children will benefit from the example of their elders—and they may give their elders incentive to keep the prayer sessions regular. Praying aloud will help you to concentrate, and ought to be considered even by one alone. Many of the prayers which earn an indulgence must be said aloud (or at least with movement of the lips and tongue). Some very brief prayers— “aspirations” —like calling on the Holy Family by name, or affirming at the elevation of the Mass that the Host is “My Lord and my God” may be formed verbally or just mentally.

Regular hours for prayer are essential if you pray together with friends or family. Even if we pray alone, regularity will prevent us from ignoring our prayers. In a monastery the members come together eight times each day, beginning with Matins very early in the morning, and then about every three hours until the bedtime prayer known as Compline. The monastic ideal may be too much for people living busy lives in the world, but a regular schedule is a good idea for everyone. A fixed time in the morning and another in the evening seem to be about the minimum. If you are interested in praying some of the monastic hours, there is a breviary (or prayer book) on the internet that can be prayed with a tablet or a smartphone.[4] It is very simple to use—much easier than the printed version—and I will be happy to help anyone who is interested. Again, do find a quiet place.

We must all make sure that our church remains a place for quiet recollection. It is a place where people come to speak with Jesus Christ—any shift of attention from Him to some other person is somewhat insulting to our Lord. Only the most pressing words should be exchanged by parishioners within the walls of our sanctuary. Even in the adjacent room where we share coffee, we should be careful to keep the noise down for those who remain in the sanctuary to pray before or after Mass.

Finally, do try to find a day or two in your prayer schedule for attending weekday Mass. Sunday is a day of obligation—weekdays generally are not. There can be nothing more generous in your prayer life than attending Holy Mass


[1] Mark 5:21–43, Matthew 9:18–26, Luke 8:40–56

[2] Gospel : Matthew ix:18-26



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