Action is worth nothing without prayer: prayer grows in value with sacrifice.
First, prayer; then, atonement; in the third place, very much 'in the third place', action.
Prayer is the foundation of the spiritual edifice. Prayer is all-powerful.
'Lord, teach us to pray!' — And our Lord replied: 'When you pray, say: Pater noster, qui es in coelis… Our Father who art in heaven…'
What importance we must attach to vocal prayer!
Slowly. Consider what you are saying, to whom it is being said and by whom. For that hurried talk, without time for reflection, is just empty noise.
And with Saint Teresa, I will tell you that, however much you work your lips, I do not call it prayer.
Your prayer should be liturgical. How I would like to see you using the psalms and prayers from the missal, rather than private prayers of your own choice.
'Not by bread alone does man live, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God', said our Lord. Bread and word! Host and prayer.
Otherwise, you will not live a supernatural life.
You seek the company of friends who, with their conversation and affection, with their friendship, make the exile of this world more bearable for you. There is nothing wrong with that, although friends sometimes let you down.
But how is it you don't frequent daily with greater intensity the company, the conversation, of the great Friend, who never lets you down?
'Mary chose the better part', we read in the holy Gospel. There she is, drinking in the words of the Master. Apparently idle, she is praying and loving. Then she accompanies Jesus in his preaching through towns and villages.
Without prayer, how difficult it is to accompany him!
You say that you don't know how to pray? Put yourself in the presence of God, and once you have said, 'Lord, I don't know how to pray!' rest assured that you have begun to do so.
You write: 'To pray is to talk with God. But about what?' About what? About Him, about yourself: joys, sorrows, successes and failures, noble ambitions, daily worries, weaknesses! And acts of thanksgiving and petitions: and Love and reparation.
In a word: to get to know him and to get to know yourself: 'to get acquainted!'
'Et in meditatione mea exardescit ignis. And in my meditation a fire shall flame out.' That is why you go to pray: to become a bonfire, a living flame giving heat and light.
So, when you are not able to go on, when you feel that your fire is dying out, if you cannot throw on it sweet— smelling logs, throw on the branches and twigs of short vocal prayers and ejaculations, to keep the bonfire burning. And you will not have wasted your time.
You are so conscious of your misery that you acknowledge yourself unworthy to be heard by God. But, what about the merits of Mary? And the wounds of your Lord? And… are you not a son of God?
Besides, he listens to you quoniam bonus… because he is good, because his mercy endures for ever.
He has become so small — you see: a Child-so that you can approach him with confidence.
'In te, Domine, speravi: in thee, Lord, have I hoped.' And, with my human resources, I threw my prayer and my cross into the balance. And my hope was not vain, nor ever will be: 'Non confundar in aeternum! I shall never be disappointed!'
It is Jesus who speaks: 'Amen I say to you: ask and you shall receive; seek and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened to you.'
Pray. In what human venture could you have greater guarantees of success?
You don't know what to say to our Lord in your prayer. You can't think of anything, and yet you would like to consult him on many things. Look: make some notes during the day of whatever you want to consider in the presence of God. And then take these notes with you to pray.
Next to the prayer of priests and of dedicated virgins, the prayer most pleasing to God is the prayer of children and that of the sick.
When you go to pray, let this be a firm resolution: Don't prolong your prayer because you find consolation in it or shorten it because you find it dry.
Don't tell Jesus that you want consolation in prayer. If he gives it to you, thank him. Tell him always that you want perseverance.
Persevere in prayer. Persevere, even when your efforts seem barren. Prayer is always fruitful.
Your mind is sluggish: you try to collect your thoughts in God's presence, but it's useless: there's a complete blank.
Don't try to force yourself, and don't worry. Look: such moments are for your heart.
Engrave in your memory those words which struck you while praying, and repeat them slowly many times throughout the day.
'He spent the whole night in prayer to God.' So Saint Luke tells of our Lord.
And you? How often have you persevered like that? Well, then…
If you don't keep in touch with Christ in prayer and in the Bread, how can you make him known to others?
I well understand you when you write: 'Every day I do my "few minutes" of prayer; if it weren't for that!…'
A saint, without prayer? I don't believe in such sanctity.
Plagiarising the words of another writer, I will tell you that your apostolic life is worth what your prayer is worth.
If you are not a man of prayer, I don't believe in the sincerity of your intentions when you say that you work for Christ.
You have told me sometimes that you are like a clock out of order, which strikes at the wrong moment: you feel cold, dry and arid at the time of your prayer, and on the other hand, when it is least to be expected, in the street, in the midst of your daily activities, in the bustle and hubbub of the city, or in the concentrated calm of your professional work, you find yourself praying… At the wrong moment? Possibly; but don't waste those chimes of your clock. The Spirit breathes where he will.
I had to smile at the impatience of your prayer. You were telling him: 'I don't want to grow old, Jesus… To have to wait so long to see you! Then, perhaps I won't have a heart as inflamed as mine is now. "Then" seems too late. Now, my union would be more ardent for I love you now with the pure Love of youth.'
I like to see you living that 'ambitious reparation'. The world! you say. — Very good, but first of all, the members of your supernatural family, your own relations, the people of your country.
You were saying to him: 'you mustn't trust me. But I…, I do trust you, Jesus. I abandon myself in your arms: there I leave all that is mine, my weaknesses!' And I think it is a good prayer.
The prayer of a Christian is never a monologue.
'Minutes of silence'. Leave silence for those whose hearts are dry.
We Catholics, children of God, speak with our Father who is in heaven.
Don't neglect your spiritual reading. — Reading has made many saints.
You write. 'In my spiritual reading I build up a store of fuel. — It looks like a lifeless heap, but I often find that my memory, of its own accord, will draw from it material which fills my prayer with life and inflames my thanksgiving after Communion.'