Editor’s Note: Father Jason M. Parzynski, chaplain in Notre Dame High School, shared Lenten reflections from two students with The Monitor. Share Lenten reflections and news from your school or parish by emailing [email protected].
By Myles Kowalski, Class of 2018
So, this morning we ask ourselves some rather thought provoking questions: What is prayer? What does prayer mean? How do we pray? Now all of these questions have an answer, but that answer varies tremendously based on the individual. Because that is one of the greatest thing about prayer, it is so flexible!
There is so set way to pray or guidelines to it, sure we can fold our hands close our eyes and get down on our knees, but our God is not so strict as to cast you to the depths of hell for not praying correctly. Because you see, with prayer, it is merely a conversation between a friend, you and God the Father. All it takes is a simple moment of our day to place ourselves in the comfort of God and just say, “Hey, I’m here. I’m listening. I’m ready to do your goodwill. And I’m ready to make today a good day.” That's all there is to it, we can simplify it even further and enjoy a moment of silence in God’s presence like in adoration, that's prayer too!
But, now I understand, it may just sound easy and you may believe that there is actually more to prayer than just that, but the beauty of prayer is that you get out of it what you place into it. Whether it be 5 minutes, 10 minutes, or half an hour, if you allow God’s grace to fill your mind and extinguish all temptation and negativity, that time spent with him either speaking or just in reverent silence, that time will enhance your day and your faith like no other and will restore your perception of prayer.
You hear me over the loudspeaker each and every morning, guiding you all in prayer not because I was told to do it every day, but because I have a genuine belief that my prayers each morning, are heard by at least one person within this building that is battling with demons no one can ever understand, and my prayer is their saving grace. I have a genuine belief that my prayers make a difference in the start of someone's day. And your prayers, can have that same impact on another’s day or even your own.
We all have the potential to unlock the beauty of prayer, that gift that God has given us. We are just all so hesitant about where to truly begin, or how to go about it; however, we are fortunate enough to be surrounded by the most wise individuals here at Notre Dame. They are all here to guide us through prayer and meditation so that we may unlock a new perspective of our faith and share an intimate bond with our God.
Though many of us may not have a deep connection with our religion, or continually struggle with it, prayer offers us a unique way to enhance our beliefs. You see, with prayer it is an opportunity to speak. An opportunity to release the burdens that weigh us down continually within our days. It is an opportunity to truly cleanse yourself of all struggles. Because when we speak, aloud or within our heads, we unlock that beauty of prayer. It is a beauty of a new perspective. When you speak aloud, or rehearse a situation in your mind and offer it to God, you suddenly find that peace or the answers to it all. Through prayer we find a new perspective on all situations and troubles that we may face. Though it may seem confusing, I’ve experienced this beautiful occurrence many times. For example,
I began going to the grotto every morning my sophomore year before I entered the building. It was one of the greatest gifts Notre Dame has ever given me was that grotto and I cherish it. But one day in particular, I unlocked that new perspective of a situation through my morning prayer. It was a pretty grey morning, and I knelt down beneath the Blessed Mary and I fought with God. I argued with Him, I told Him how broken I was, and was screaming on the inside, questioning why He would let something like this happen. I told Him how I don’t know how I would manage getting through the rest of the days, but then I felt His answer. It was a feeling as if you had just received an amazing grade on a huge test you were sure you had failed, it was a sense of relief that overwhelmed me. I felt lighter, and felt that I truly could take on anything, and that I was honestly overcomplicating things. That in reality, life would go on and that I’ll be okay. But, then it was taken a step further. Still kneeling, eyes closed, I felt something tap the kneeler. I looked over and not even a foot beside me was a cardinal. At 7:20 in the morning and a cardinal lands right next to me, not afraid at all and unflinching. It was then I really knew how important these conversations with God were, and it was then that I knew that He’s always listening and that he placed that bird there for me that morning so I could know my friend Coby was still here with me.
You see prayer has these abilities to really center ourselves and to account for all of the good within our lives, even when we may doubt it. It enables us to hear what is on our minds and then empowers us to realize the truth and magnitude of our problems. I understand many of us may not encounter those “ah-ha” moments, but the answers can be found in prayer. We just have to open ourselves up to the idea of these conversations and listen for God to reveal unto us the answers, for He has them all. So take this day to end all hesitation, and clear your minds, offer them up to God and enter into a state of prayer and meditation so that today, and all days going forth may be carried through the grace of God.