This book is the second of the four volumes of sermons and discourses given by Fr. Slavko Barbaric and Fr. Tomislav Vlasic during 1984 - 1987 in Medjugorje, and contains discourses given from January to June 1985.
30 Chapters of this book are now completed
In the message of 28th March, Our Lady said : 'In prayer you will find the deepest joy'. But precisely in that prayer where you find Our Lord.
Prayer is a meeting with God speaking to us, leading us, giving us light, saving us. Our Lord who introduced himself as a Father and Jesus Christ as our brother, as our friend.
In our meeting with Him we must have a deeper joy and none of us has anything against this deep joy. We must wonder how to pray, how to meet this Father, this brother, this friend ?
God revealed Himself in Jesus Christ.
Before this, Our Lady also said another thing :"Pray with your hearts," that is not only to repeat something in words.An example : in a kitchen you can find every kind of food, but you can still starve if you do not eat well of if you do not eat at all.
Many people pray but do not feel this joy, this deep peace.Why? We must say :they do not prayas they should, they do not meet Our Lord as they ought in order to receive this joy. What may be their predicament to pray and not feel anything ?
If you want to meet one of your friends, you must look for him, you must find time to speak to him, to listen to him ... If you want to have a satisfactory meeting you make preparations so that you will not be disturbed. If you do not have the time, if you do not try to arrange the meeting, if you do not try to say anything to the other person, you cannot have a meeting even on a human level.
And the same thing can be said, I think, also of prayer if you are determined to pray. At the beginning of Her apparitions, Our Lady used to recommend: "Recite the Creed". If you have made up your minds to carry out whatever Our Lady has asked of you, you must get ready; that is, find the time and take time when you can be for God alone, when the telephone cannot interrupt you, nor your wife ...... a little corner in your house, and say: this half hour is only for prayer.
Find the time, the place and begin as you can. I am telling you to begin as you can. In the beginning Our Lady requested: the Creed, seven Our Father's and fasting (one day of the week). They are concrete and simple things to begin with. And anyone who has begun like this, finding every day a little time for prayer, has been able to learn how to pray.
We must begin as when we started to pronounce the first words with our mothers. We must begin as we can and go on continuously in this way.
Look for a time, a place; try to speak to and listen to God. In this concrete manner it is possible to go deeply into and you will, from day to day, feel a mood for prayer.
Do not just say :"I want to pray" without following this method. The same thing is true if you say : "I want to be a doctor" but you do not want to study. This is not taking things seriously ... How can you hope to reach the goal if you do not wish to use the means to attain it ? How can you want joy and deep peace and not the means to reach them ? How can you want to pray if you do not pray ? How can you want to meet the Lord if you do not try to fulfil these conditions ?
One more thing - create a habit. You say, the appetite grows by eating, and I say: also prayer grows by praying, and fasting grows by fasting. Being unable to pray like St. Francis used to, does not mean I need not begin.
This is the journey Our Lady asks of us. If you are absent-minded, you go to prayer with this absent-mindedness. The first concrete start was very simply, to say seven Our Father's.
In August last (1984) Our Lady asked for the whole Rosary. The Rosary is a repetitive prayer, but also a rhythmic, meditative and biblical one. You can recite it in your families, even with the children. You may change something: a little silence, some singing, some words of praise, some spontaneous prayers and the repeating of Hail Mary, Hail Mary .....
And I can say that if it should happen to you, as it did to St. Francis, to begin the Our Father and then continue all night long repeating only "Our Father", experiencing its sweetness in your mouth and in your heart, you will have all the same followed the Blessed Virgin, even though you may not have recited one Hail Mary. it is not a matter of just saying : I have recited one hundred and fifty Hail Mary's.
You must begin to pray with your heart and you will learn this little by little, every day, step by step. If you have had a frustrating and weary day, of course, your prayer cannot be the same as on a day when you are not weary; your prayer must be according to your capabilities, according to where you have reached. Your prayer is the expression of your soul, where joy, love, reconciliation grow ..... But every day you must go on as best you can and in so doing you will reach joy and be able to pray with your heart, with an ever deeper joy.
Fasting is connected a great deal to prayer but it has another function - to set us free from matter, from distressing anxieties. And fasting opens us, our body too, to the Word. The Word can better be incarnate, become flesh more easily in our bodies if we fast.We all know what we must do (we do not need apparitions) - love. Jesus said : "especially your neighbour, like yourself." Everybody wants peace : but it is not enough to know this.
If we begin fasting Our Lord can purify us step by step. And this purification give the possibility to the Word to become incarnate in our souls, in our sentiments. We are not yet open. By fasting, we get ready, step by step to say our "Yes", as Our Lady did so that the word of love and of peace may become incarnate and take shape. By fasting and praying we get nearer and nearer to Our Lord and so we get nearer to peace and to love : to what Our Lady has asked of us.
Our Lady has a lot of patience with us, so we must have patience with ourselves and with others. Some people have told me : now we find time more easily for the whole Rosary then we did at the beginning for the Creed and the seven Our Father's.
Our Lady leads us step by step and She also does not want us to force ourselves or others. See what you can do today and go on. But always go on every day. Praying and fasting are the means to get ready, to accept the grace of peace, faith and love. The aim of fasting and of prayer is not in fasting and prayer in itself. We do not pray to waste time, we do not fast to be hungry. These are only means for us, to meet Someone, to feel Him and to be able to receive the Word for ourselves.
(Fr. Slavko Barbaric - 30th March 1985)
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