The most certain means of preserving the spirit of prayer is to combine prayer and action, pursuing each alternately. A state of uninterrupted contemplation is not attainable in this life ; any attempt at it would weary the mind, exhaust the body, and finally degenerate into listless idleness. Action must be succeeded by contemplation and contemplation by action, for there is no doubt that the interior life cannot long maintain its vigor unless its exercise be interrupted by exterior employment. – from The Interior Life of Jesus and Mary, Vol.1 by Fr. Grou, SJ
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The above quote, taken from Chapter 17, is part of a reflection on Jesus’ work as a carpenter. Fr. Grou begins his work with Jesus in the womb of Mary and will continue to ponder the interior life of Jesus and Mary, through Volume 2. This quote is written in the context of the work and prayer of Jesus (as He was seen in Nazareth as the Son of Joseph and Mary). It also refers to the work and prayer of the Holy Family. Sometimes we can have an unrealistic concept of the interior life as something we can never obtain because we are too busy or we don’t know how to pray.
Mary and Joseph were simple human persons as we are. Granted – Mary was Immaculately Conceived and so had the fullness of grace to begin with, but our first parents were given great graces and fell. Lucifer was a beautiful angel but fell. It is what we do with the grace God gives us that is most important. It is good for us to remember how God chose to be born of a human Mother, and lived in the town of which we hear in the Gospel of John: “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”
Jesus said: “Behold your Mother”. If we continue to pray with Mary – persevering in her example of work and prayer – we will by God’s Grace grow as she did in our union with Jesus. Joseph too gives us the powerful example of a human person who worked hard and prayed with great attention and devotion to God. Jesus, the Gospel of Luke reminds us, was obedient to His parents and grew in wisdom, age and grace. We are intended to grow spiritually from within and as the Holy Family did, while not neglecting the works God has given us to do for the good of others.
Work does not need to be a hindrance, in fact, as Fr. Grou points out, it can help us actually to pray better if we learn to balance the two. If we want to live the Life of Christ as we are given the grace to do in our Baptism, then we need to persevere in our prayer, with Mary. We need to keep His word in our hearts as she did, and do the Truth we hear. Mary’s words in yesterday’s Gospel need to sound in our hearts and minds: “Do whatever He tells you.”
Mary, Mother of the Church, pray for us, and with us.
St. Joseph, Guardian of Jesus and Mary, intercede for us.
Jesus, we trust in You.