Prayer


PRAYER IN THE SCHOOL OF THE HOLY FAMILY

“THE HOUSE IN NAZARETH IS A SCHOOL OF PRAYER, A PLACE WHERE WE LEARN TO LISTEN, TO REFLECT AND TO PONDER THE DEEP MEANING OF THE REVELATION OF THE SON OF GOD, WHILE TAKING EXAMPLE FROM MARY, SAINT JOSEPH AND JESUS.”

Prayer is a priority in our lives. It is a manifestation of our love for God. As consecrated persons, we are called to continually seek the Face of God, to direct all our desires to God, and to remain with Him through our prayer. What we need the most is to firmly hold unto the Person of Jesus, to His Word, and to His truth which he reveals to us. All these are the unum neccessarium, which we earnestly seek.

(…) It is important for us to set aside the right amount of time to pray every day. We value communal, individual, vocal and mental prayer. We are aware that fidelity to prayer or the neglect of it are the testimony of the vitality or the deterioration of religious life. With the deterioration of the spiritual life, the basic call of our life dies as well.

Holy Scripture, Liturgy and Eucharistic adoration are the sources of prayer life. We read Holy Scripture in order to get to know Christ more deeply. (…)

The Liturgy of the Church, especially the Eucharist and the Liturgy of the Hours make present the mystery of Christ. “In the Eucharist all forms of prayer come together, the Word of God is proclaimed and received, relationships with God, with brothers and sisters, with all men and women are challenged.” The Liturgy of the Hours sanctifies our time and “expresses the call proper to consecrated persons to raise their hearts in praise and intercession”

Eucharistic adoration fosters contemplation and strengthens our personal relationship with Christ. Inspired by the Gospel’s words that “Mary chose the better part” (Lk 10:42) we want to listen to the voice of Christ, to remain with Him and be united with Him in our spirit and in our heart. (…) Prayer involves our whole person with its emotional, intellectual and bodily dimension. At the last moments of our life, our prayer and the prayer of our loved ones will accompany us in the passage to eternity.

First of all, God wants the generous gift of our hearts, then the gift expressed in our actions. Prayer in essence opens us to the other. It is “necessary therefore that the members of every community, seeking God solely and before everything else, should join contemplation, by which they fix their minds and hearts on Him, with apostolic love.” As consecrated persons we make an effort to integrate our prayer with action so that our love for God would penetrate our love for others. At the same time we experience that: “prayer is the soul of the apostolate, but also the apostolate animates and inspires prayer.”

“IN THE MYSTERY OF NAZARETH WE FIND INSPIRATION FOR A LIFE OF DEEP CONTEMPLATION.”

As Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth, we are called to a deep spiritual life. Our charism, rooted in the mystery of the Incarnation, calls us to reserve our hearts as a privileged place of which it can be said: “HIC VERBUM CARO FACTUM EST”, “HERE THE WORD OF GOD BECAME FLESH” The awareness that the Word dwells within us is a gift which we received with our vocation. God, by giving us the grace of our vocation to Nazareth, at the same time, makes us capable of deep prayer, and of contemplating the mystery of God present in us and among us. We encourage each other to Jesus’ way of life, to remain in constant relationship with the Father. Prayer gradually transforms us and permeates our lives. It causes us to desire to testify about God and to give Him to others as the only value that lasts. We want everyone to be able to see the living God who dwells in us. We want Him to remain with us unceasingly.

We draw an example from Blessed Mary of Jesus the Good Shepherd. Prayer occupied a central place in her spiritual life and it shaped her very personal relationship with the person of the Lord Jesus. Jesus was present for her in Nazareth, in His public life, on Calvary, in the Eucharist and in the heart of every person. The writings of our Foundress reveal to us the dynamism of her prayer. Prayer was for her a source of light and consolation, but also an experience of the dark night  during which she relied only upon faith. By her own life, Mother teaches us that the way of our vocation and our whole spiritual life is a constant immersion in the Paschal Mystery, that is, in Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection. Our Mother drew strength, light and love from the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Gradually God became ever closer to her. He became the God of her heart, the Lord of her soul, her only Love, her Treasure, the Best Shepherd, Bridegroom, Redeemer, Eternal Truth, Father, Creator, Servant, Brother, Healer, Helper, Judge and God Almighty. Mother experienced God’s immense love towards his creatures during prayer. She discovered that such love was gratuitous. Gazing at Jesus – in the same way as Mary and St. Joseph in Nazareth – she desired to form an attitude of contemplation in her spiritual daughters. She wrote: “What I fear the most is if we deviate from the right path, from the spirit of the Holy Family which should be firmly established in each soul, and reflected, above all, in love.”

Along with the Nazareth charism, we received a spiritual gift, that is, our desire to be like Mary and St. Joseph who remained in contemplative adoration of Jesus. Like Mary and St. Joseph, who lived their everyday life with Jesus, we want to be with Him in our lives. We know that He is with us until the end of the world (see Mt 28:20). Remaining with Jesus in the ordinariness of each day is the specific nature of Nazareth’s contemplation. Our Mother Foundress reminds us that “Our vocation is to live with God.” Living in deep intimacy with God in the midst of different kinds of activity, is thus inscribed in our Nazareth vocation.

We direct all our prayers to God the Father in the name of Jesus. We beseech the intercession of Mary. We call upon Saint Joseph – the foster father of Jesus and the spouse of Mary, and the intercession of other saints. We especially implore the intercession of our Mother Foundress – Blessed Mary of Jesus the Good Shepherd and our Martyred Sisters – Blessed Sister Mary Stella and her companions.

Our prayer can also take on the character of communal adoration, intercession, worship and thanksgiving. In the  process of our formation, we try to develop in ourselves an attitude of understanding, loving and fervent practicing of the forms of prayers specific to our religious family. We do not focus so much on the external forms of those prayers as much as on what they express. We want both oral, as well as mental, contemplative prayers to be means to strengthen our personal relationship with Christ. Each of our days begins with the Hymn to the Holy Spirit. We ask the Spirit to guide and sanctify us. We are also united in our daily prayer to the Holy Family. Devotion to the Blessed Mother and Saint Joseph is a significant feature of our spirituality. Therefore, during our formation, we foster our relationship with Mary and value the various devotional practices which honor her. During our communal and individual prayer we give due honor to the Foster Father of Jesus and our Protector – Saint Joseph.

Way of Love, Ratio Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth