Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (February 4, 2018)

Today’s Gospel tells us that in the midst of busyness, even Jesus saw a need to find a quiet place to pray. St. Francis de Sales also stresses the importance of practicing mental prayer in the midst of our worldly activities, and gives us a short simple method:

I especially counsel you to practice the prayer of the heart. Set aside some time each day, if possible early in the morning, when your mind is less distracted and fresher after the night’s rest. Place yourself in God’s presence. Remember that God is present in a most particular way in your heart and in the very center of your spirit. Do not hurry along and say many things but try to speak from your heart. A single Our Father said with feeling has greater value than many said quickly and hurriedly. Don’t be concerned about finishing the vocal prayer you intended to say. By often turning your eyes on Jesus in meditation, your whole being will be filled with him. You will learn his ways and form your actions after the pattern of his.

From your meditation gather a few thoughts that you liked best and are most adapted for your improvement. During the day frequently think of them. Make particular resolutions for your own correction. On that same day, we must try to carefully practice them and to seek occasions, small or great, to do so. Since prayer places our mind in the brilliance of God’s light and exposes our ability to make choices to the warmth of God’s heavenly love, nothing else so effectively purifies our mind of ignorance and our will of disordered affections. Meditation makes the plants of our good desires grow green and flourish, and quenches the disordered passions in our hearts. By keeping close to our Savior in meditation and observing his words, actions and affections, we learn by his grace to speak, act, and will like him.

(St. Francis de Sales, Introduction to a Devout Life.)