Homily for Ash Wednesday 2007
Do you remember an event or a person or a book you read that had a great influence on you? I certainly do. When I was fresh out of high school and in the Seminary at the tender age of 19 or 20 I read a book that opened my mind to a new way of thinking. It was a little book called "Prayer is a Hunger". I cannot remember much about what the book said but the title has stayed with me. The title opened up for me a new perspective on prayer. I was used to prayer being born a Catholic and attending a Catholic school. It was one of those things that was an accepted part of my life.
Of course prayer is not just a hunger. But the expression takes prayer away from just being something we do towards being a way of life. But more even than a way of life. It is saying that our need for God is as urgent for our life as is our hunger letting us know our body needs food. It is the hunger for love that only God can fill.
Prayer is more than a hunger of course. Prayers is also a listening with the heart. Prayer is a conversation. Prayer is being in love with God. Prayer can be described in very many ways. We can engage in prayer in many different ways. It is an expression of where we stand before God. We are creatures whose lives depend on God. It can be personal activity or a communal liturgy.
Prayer is one of the three practices Jesus directs our attention to in the Gospel (Matthew 6:1-18) on Ash Wednesday along with fasting and works of charity. These are the centre of our preparation for Easter. The kind of life which has at its heart prayer, penance and love and service of neighbour is a resurrected life. Resurrected because it means a new way of seeing God, the world, our neighbour and ourselves.
Today we bless the children preparing for their first reconciliation. Let us show them what it means to be a Christian this Lent.