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The heart inspires

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The heart inspires

Following the visit to these shores of the reliquary containing the heart of St John Mary Vianney, let’s let him lead us in reflecting on prayer of the heart:

My little children, your hearts are small,
but prayer stretches them and makes them capable of loving God.
Through prayer we receive a foretaste of heaven
and something of paradise comes down upon us.
Prayer never leaves us without sweetness.
It is honey that flows into the souls and makes all things sweet.
When we pray properly, sorrows disappear like snow before the sun.
Some men immerse themselves as deeply in prayer as fish in water,
because they give themselves totally to God.
O, how I love these noble souls!
How unlike them we are!
How often we come to church with no idea of what to do or what to ask for.
And yet, whenever we go to any human being, we know well enough why we go.
And still worse, there are some who seem to speak to the good God like this:
“I will only say a couple of things to you, and then I will be rid of you.”
I often think that when we come to adore the Lord,
we would receive everything we ask for,
if we would ask with living faith and with a pure heart1.
 

Love of God can touch our hearts and move us to pray but as we see above, if we are to love God as much as we can, we need to pray so that our capacity for love increases.  It is as though our hearts would burst if God gave us all at once the love that He desires us to have.  Through being faithful to prayer, we increase our capacity gradually.  However, if we only pray when we ‘feel like it’, then we do not give our hearts this opportunity to expand and therefore enable this wonderful immersion in prayer.

There is a story told about St Jane Frances de Chantal.  She was heading to the convent chapel one day to pray.  Meeting a young novice in the hallway, she said, ‘why don’t you join me in the chapel for prayer?’  The young nun answered, ‘Sister, I really don’t feel like praying just now’, whereupon St Jane declared, ‘Sister, I haven’t felt like praying in years!  Now let’s go to the chapel and pray!’  Fidelity to a recognizable life of prayer must be the baseline of our journey into God.  Often, if we only make the effort to start to pray, the Holy Spirit will take care of the rest for us… but we must begin!

… and begin again.  May the prayers of St John Vianney help to strengthen our resolve to be faithful on that journey, and whenever necessary, to begin again.

St John Vianney, pray for us!

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1 The Catechetical Instructions by St John Mary Vianney

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