BRIDGEPORT—Last week, on The Face of Prayer website, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano shared this video on the importance and the power of prayer. He invited people to watch it, and then to join the movement by heading to www.thefaceofprayer.org. To participate, please text a selfie, a prayer request, or simply the word “pray” to 55778. Once a person registers, the bishop I will send a reflection each day via text that will include a call to prayer. Once a week, he will send a video like the one above, reflecting on prayer in our lives. Over 800 people have signed up already!
In this written reflection, the bishop reminds us that we often need silence to hear the voice of the Lord. “An essential ingredient in any person’s ability to “hear” the voice of the Lord is quiet. This “quiet” is the spiritual place where the many distractions of our life give way to a stillness and silence that allows us to sense the promptings of God’s Spirit, accompanying us each day. Sadly, it is this personal stillness that our modern society neither values nor promotes.
Moreover, even if a person is able to set aside daily the many distractions that he or she may face that day, we also need to train ourselves to recognize the presence and prompting of the Holy Spirit when He makes His presence felt. This ability of “listening” to God’s voice is both a gift of grace and a skill to be developed. It is a grace because it is God’s initiative that move our hearts in the way that God chooses. Our ability to recognize God’s presence in prayer relies upon His grace that helps us to discern that it is actually God’s grace at work within us and to have the strength and perseverance to respond appropriately to what the Lord is asking. Furthermore, such “listening” is a skill insofar as we need to train ourselves to block the distractions around us, to calm our spirit and to be docile before the presence of the Holy Spirit. We need to learn to read the genuine signs of God’s presence in our lives, not confusing what we may want to hear with what the Spirit is actually communicating to us. Once again, this openness to God’s grace and the need to develop this skill of “spiritual listening” are neither recognized as important nor fostered in any way by our secular society.
The difficulties faced by young people in this regard are daunting. Bombarded by so much communication, information and visual images through the use of a variety of electronic devices, many young people struggle to understand how it is possible to “quiet” their minds, set aside these distractions and to learn the skill of “spiritual listening”. It is a situation that is sobering and demands a response by those of us who care about our young people and want them to grow into mature, happy and holy persons before the Lord.