It seems to me that the Second Reading from this Sunday’s Office of Readings from A letter to Proba by St Augustine entitled "Let us exercise our desire in prayer" enriches the theme laid out in the Old Testament and Gospel readings from Mass which exhort to total dependence upon the Lord in prayer.
“Why in our fear of not praying as we should, do we turn to so many things, to find what we should pray for? Why do we not say instead, in the words of the psalm: I have asked one thing from the Lord, this is what I will seek: to dwell in the Lord’s house all the days of my life, to see the graciousness of the Lord, and to visit his temple? There, the days do not come and go in succession, and the beginning of one day does not mean the end of another; all days are one, simultaneously and without end, and the life lived out in these days has itself no end.
So that we might obtain this life of happiness, he who is true life itself taught us to pray, not in many words as though speaking longer could gain us a hearing. After all, we pray to one who, as the Lord himself tells us, knows what we need before we ask for it.
Why he should ask us to pray, when he knows what we need before we ask him, may perplex us if we do not realise that our Lord and God does not want to know what we want (for he cannot fail to know it), but wants us rather to exercise our desire through our prayers, so that we may be able to receive what he is preparing to give us. His gift is very great indeed, but our capacity is too small and limited to receive it. That is why we are told: Enlarge your desires, do not bear the yoke with unbelievers.
The deeper our faith, the stronger our hope, the greater our desire, the larger will be our capacity to receive that gift, which is very great indeed. No eye has seen it; it has no colour. No ear has heard it; it has no sound. It has not entered man’s heart; man’s heart must enter into it.
In this faith, hope and love we pray always with unwearied desire. However, at set times and seasons we also pray to God in words, so that by these signs we may instruct ourselves and mark the progress we have made in our desire, and spur ourselves on to deepen it. The more fervent the desire, the more worthy will be its fruit. When the Apostle tells us: Pray without ceasing, he means this: Desire unceasingly that life of happiness which is nothing if not eternal, and ask it of him who alone is able to give it.”
I just finished reading Cardinal Robert Sarah's new book written in collaboration with Nicolas Diat: La Force du silence (Documents) (French Edition). Fayard. Kindle Edition. I have no doubt that it will be received and read by many with profound respect. Some may find it mystifying if not perplexing for its unqualified embrace of silence as the quintessence of the God encounter. He says nothing different from St. Augustine, but for those not drawn by the monumental silence of the Grand Chartreuse, the great Western Father of the Church from Hippo might be easier fare.
In either case, for me on this 29th Sunday of Ordinary Time the shared lesson and exhortation would be toward accepting and professing the absolute primacy of the Lord Jesus for the sake of the life of the world and for my own sake. The supernal sufficiency of Christ in His Person and His Teaching, and the unambiguous call for us all to place ourselves at the feet of the Master as did Mary at home with Martha and Lazarus, as this call can only be lived out in the worthy reception of the Sacraments within His Church, cannot be overstated, let alone denied.
"Desire unceasingly that life of happiness which is nothing if not eternal, and ask it of him who alone is able to give it.”
Of late and from some very unexpected quarters, from very pious people, seemingly, I have heard expressions of comprehension for the failure of young parents to seek the Lord above all else and share their quest for life in Christ, at one with His Blessed Mother, in simple prayer with their tiny children. Why has something so self-evident to my parents' generation become seemingly unattainable for many today? Spiritual combat, the notion of Confirmation making us soldiers for Christ, our prayer to St. Michael the Archangel to defend us in battle against the wickedness and snares of the devil... why so much complacency? Where are the spiritual athletes in numbers, who formed the basis of Christian culture?
To reference the reading at Mass, "Amalek" is on the move! We need to fight against sin and Satan; we need to be combative! More than that, we need to give ourselves over unceasingly to prayer; we need to confess the primacy of Christ. Like Aaron and Hur, we need to sustain Moses in his prayer to God for the salvation of his people and the defeat of the enemies of God.
PROPERANTES ADVENTUM DIEI DEI