Watch and Pray

Watch and Pray


Could you not watch one hour with me? [Matt 26:40/Mark 14:37], the Lord asked of the apostles. We are fortunate in being able to watch and pray one hour a week at Sunday Mass, but the Lord calls us to more. As Catholics we are to live a life of prayer, turning daily to God and offering him at least a small portion of the 1440 minutes we are allotted each day—it takes 15 minutes to say a Rosary, and just adding that prayer to our daily routine would do more for us and for the world than we can possibly imagine. The Rosary is a great means to bring us to a state where we can practice pure mental prayer. It allows us to contemplate the mysteries and thus enter into the mystery of God.

Saint Hilary (c.315-367) was the Bishop of Poitiers, in that part of the Roman Empire which eventually became France. He was a Doctor of the Church, and wrote much that can help build faith and help us enter into the mystery. In his book The Trinity [Book 12:52-53] Saint Hilary gives us a beautiful reflection on creation.

Read the following excerpt and turn it over in your mind—let it inform your prayer and lead you into God’s mystery.

Father Most Holy, God Almighty…, when I raise the faint light of my eyes towards the sky, how can I doubt it to be your heaven? When I contemplate the movement of the stars and their yearly cycle; when I see the Pleiades, Little Bear and Morning Star and consider how each of them shines in the watch assigned to it, then I understand, O God, that you are there in those stars beyond my understanding. When I see “the breakers of the sea” (Ps 93 [92]:4) I cannot grasp the origin of their waters or even what sets their ebb and flow in motion. And yet – impenetrable though it be for me – I believe there to be a cause to these facts of which I have no knowledge and there, too, I perceive your presence.

 If I turn my mind towards the earth which, by means of the energy of hidden forces, decomposes all the seeds it has received in its womb, slowly causes them to germinate and multiply, then enables them to grow, I see nothing in all this that I could understand with my intellect. But even this ignorance helps me to discern you since, if I have no knowledge of the nature placed at my service, yet I understand you by the mere fact that it is there for my use. And if I turn towards my own self, this experience tells me that I do not understand myself and I wonder at you all the more in that I am a stranger to myself. Indeed, even if I am unable to comprehend them, I have an experience of the movements of my mind as it judges, of its operations, of its life. And it is to you that I owe this experience, you who have given me a share in this sensible nature, which is my joy even if its origin is beyond the grasp of my intelligence. I do not understand my own self but it is in myself that I find you and, in finding you, adore you.


Love and Peace,

Fr. Liam Quinlan

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