These next few weeks we will be publishing Servant of God Isaac Hecker’s notes on prayer. They were written in 1850s and used in his early morning class on prayer that he often conducted during the Parish Missions. Hecker would hold class often at 6 in the morning to prepare people to receive baptism, reconciliation or first communion. The class as often a jumble of different people from potential converts to cradle Catholics who had never received the sacraments of initiation.
Servant of God Isaac Hecker taught:
In regard to prayer, someone says, we cannot always be in church or on our knees. We cannot go every day to confession or make a meditation in the morning. We have family to take care of. We have business to look after. We have work to perform.
No one knows this better than I do. What can you do? What must I not fail to do? If you work at living a good life and want to save your soul, you need to pray. You must always pray.
The mechanic at his work bench.
The labourer with his shovel.
The farmer with his plough.
The mother with her domestic chores.
The girl with her sewing basket by the kitchen fire.
The merchant at his desk.
You can pray at all times and under all circumstances.
Moses prayed at the head of a formidable army.
Ezechia prayed in his bed afflicted is sickness.
St. Joseph prayed in his carpentry shop
St. Isadore prayed while tending his flock.
St. Rose prayed while engaged in sewing.
There is nothing easier than to pray. Say to God, “Help me O Lord, Assist me, Grant me the grace to love you.” What can be easier than this?
It is not necessary that you should always be in church or on your knees to pray. Everyone no matter what their state in life can pray. Each one imagines that his troubles and his particular occupation dispenses one from praying. On the contrary, you should always pray. Pray over the daily acts and events of your life. Pray over your anger for this is important. Pray without ceasing.
Reflection on the Text by Father Paul Robichaud CSP
Last week I had an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging scan). You are completely enclosed in a device, strapped down so you cannot move and then the wall panels move towards you until they almost touch your body. I am claustrophobic and these sessions can last 30 or 45 minutes. To make matters worse there is never just one session but a series of session where you can spend a total of one to two hours in the machine.
As I lay in the machine wondering how I would get through the next 90 minutes, I thought of something Paulist Father John Hurley said to me about his last scan. He said, I just prayed. So I prayed and while the time did not fly by, it certainly helped get me through this experience.
Servant of God Isaac Hecker reminds his listeners that you can always pray wherever you are and whatever you are doing. Some people argue that their work keeps them from prayer as Hecker writes. . Our work should be a subject of our prayer. If prayer encompasses all of your life then there is nothing we do that we cannot bring into our praye and discuss with God. There is nothingr that we cannot use as a platform for our prayer.
Paulist Father Paul Robichaud CSP is Historian of the Paulist Fathers and Postulator of the Cause of Father Hecker. His office is located at the Hecker Center in Washington D.C.