The Four Foundations
of Sanctity: Page 6
by SAINT JOHN EUDES
THE FOURTH FOUNDATION OF SANCTITY: PRAYER
The holy exercise of prayer must be considered one of the chief foundations of Christian life and sanctity, since the whole life of Jesus Christ was nothing but a perpetual prayer, which you must continue and express in your life.
This is so necessary that the earth on which you live, the air you breathe, the bread that sustains you, the heart that beats in your breast, are none of them so necessary to man for his bodily life as prayer is to a Christian if he is to live as a Christian.
This is because:
(1) The Christian life, called by the Son of God eternal life, consists in knowing and loving God. This Divine knowledge is acquired by praying.
(2) Of yourself you are nothing, can do nothing and possess nothing but poverty and nothingness. Hence, you have a very great need of going to God for help, at all hours, by means of prayer, so that you may obtain and receive from Him all that you lack.
What Prayer Is
Prayer is a respectful and loving elevation of your mind and heart to God. It is a joyous meeting, a holy communication, a Divine conversation between God and the Christian.
In it the soul considers and contemplates its Creator in His Divine perfections, in His mysteries and in His works; it adores and blesses Him, loves and glorifies Him, gives itself to Him, is abased before Him at the sight of its sins and ingratitude. It implores Him to be merciful, and learns to become like Him by imitating His Divine virtues and perfections, and finally asks for all the things necessary to serve and love Him.
Prayer is a participation in the life of the angels and saints, in the life of Jesus Christ and of His most holy Mother, even of the life of God and of the Three Divine Persons. For the life of the Angels and Saints, of Christ, and of His most holy Mother is nothing else but a continual practice of prayer and contemplation, in which their uninterrupted occupation is to look upon God, to praise and love Him, to ask Him, on your behalf, for the things you need. And the existence of the Three Divine Persons is a perpetual contemplation, praise and love of one another, which is accomplished first and foremost by prayer.
Prayer is perfect delight, supreme happiness, a true earthly paradise. It is by this Divine exercise of prayer that the Christian soul is united to God, Who is the center of its being, its goal and its supreme good. It is in prayer that God belongs to the soul and the soul to God. It is by praying that the soul pays Him rightful service, homage, adoration and love, and receives from Him His lights, His blessings and a thousand tokens of His exceeding great love.
It is during your prayers that God takes His delight in you, according to this word of His: "My delights are to be with the children of men" (Prov. 8, 31), and gives us an experimental knowledge of the fact that our true joy and perfect satisfaction are to be found in God, and that a hundred, or even a thousand years of the false pleasures of this world are not worth one moment of the true delights which God allows those souls to taste, who seek all their contentment only in conversing with Him in holy prayer.
Finally, prayer is the most worthy, the noblest, the loftiest, greatest and most important act in which you can engage your efforts, for it is the ceaseless occupation of the Angels and Saints, of the Blessed Virgin, of Jesus and of the Most Holy Trinity throughout all the vastness of eternity.
It is also destined to be our own unending activity in Heaven. Indeed, this is the one true and proper function of a man and of a Christian, since man is created for God and to be with God, and the Christian is on earth only for the purpose of continuing what Jesus Christ did during His life.
Do not deprive Him of His satisfaction of being with you
Therefore, with all my power, I urge every one of you who read these words, and in God's name I adjure you, since our Dear Jesus condescends to take His delight in being with you and speaking to you through prayer, do not deprive Him of His satisfaction, but learn by your own experience that like holy wisdom His conversation has no bitterness, nor His company any tediousness, but joy and gladness. (Wis. 8, 16).
Give as much time as you can
Look upon prayer as the first, the principal, most necessary, most urgent and most important business of your life, and as far as possible, free yourself from all less necessary duties, to give as much time as you can to prayer, especially in the morning and evening, and a little before dinner, and in one or another of the ways I shall set forth.