John Connelly


Third Sunday in Advent – December 14, 2014
Isaiah 61.1-2, 10-11 | Luke 1.47-54 | 1 Thessalonians 5.16-24 | John 1.6-8, 19-28
December 1, 2014

In this week's Second Reading St. Paul offers these inspired words, "Pray without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5.17).

Imagine if we actually did this. What if we all made prayer the continual focus of our lives? It is easy to say that everything we do is prayer. But we can dig deeper into this mystery of constant prayer.

The Catholic Catechism says, "Prayer is a vital necessity. Proof from the contrary is no less convincing: If we do not allow the Spirit to lead us, we fall back into the slavery of sin. How can the Holy Spirit be our life if our heart is far from him?" (2744).

Pray without ceasing . . . . Do not quench the Spirit. – 1 Thessalonians 5.18-19

'Pray without ceasing . . . . Do not quench the Spirit.'

1 Thessalonians 5.18-19

This passage gives us a key to the way of ceaseless prayer. We should all learn to rely more on the Holy Spirit. We should focus on the Spirit and allow him to teach us.

Think about this amazing reality. The Holy Spirit dwells in you and me right now. He is the "interior master of prayer." Only the Holy Spirit can lead us to constant prayer. He is the master; we are the students. True prayer is always under the guidance of the Spirit.

Try an experiment. Talk directly to the Holy Spirit right now. Tell him of your struggles. Ask the Spirit to guide you into ceaseless prayer.

The Spirit will instruct us if we are willing to be humble and turn to the Lord. Invite the Spirit to take control.

Recently I heard a speaker say we walk in the Spirit to the degree we talk to the Spirit. So I set out to renew the practice of ongoing interior dialogue with the Holy Spirit. As I did this, it became apparent that in many situations, my default position is to choose my own wisdom and understanding.

When I turn to the Spirit and pray to and with him, it is also a turning away from my own ego. It is turning away from my own wisdom and strength, and a turning to the source of true wisdom and strength.

Every time we pray to Jesus, the Holy Spirit draws us on the way of prayer by his grace. Since he teaches us to pray by recalling Christ, how could we not pray to the Spirit too? Calling upon the Holy Spirit every day, especially at the beginning and end of every important action, would give the Spirit first place in all our prayer and activity.

Advent is a time of preparation and prayer for Jesus and his Spirit to live in us more profoundly. We are called, like Mary, to let the Spirit overshadow our lives. Invite the Spirit of Jesus to teach you to pray without ceasing.

Invite him to empower and guide you always in your daily life.

Come Holy Spirit! Lead us on the path of ceaseless prayer. Teach us to bring your wisdom into all our relationships. Make Jesus a living reality in every situation of our lives. Amen.