A second cousin’s wedding provided the chance for a little extra quality time yesterday with my (slightly) elder brother.
‘Elder,’ in this case, being a thoroughly considered choice of words. Neither of us is ancient exactly, but we’ve both seen our 60th birthdays…and then some. And we’re starting to notice that we don’t have the stamina we enjoyed once-upon-a-time.
Despite the glorious and grand setting for the wedding banquet—the storied Khorassan Ballroom, one of this area’s most venerable venues—we didn’t quite make it to the midnight hour. Heck, we didn’t even make it to 10 PM before calling it a night…confident that the joyous and energetic celebration would manage quite well without us.
But ultimately, it was a conversation my brother and I had had earlier in the day that lingered in my mind and heart. It came during the interlude between the early-afternoon nuptial Mass…and the evening reception. Gerard, a Jesuit—and one of the most prayerful men I know—invited Gerri and me to say a rosary with him. And when we’d finished praying, he talked about some of his daily prayer practices, noting how they often fell short of the example set by Jesus.
‘The Gospels say Jesus sometimes stayed up all night praying,’ Gerard observed. ‘But sometimes, I can’t even get through a Divine Mercy Chaplet without falling asleep.’
Which prompted my somewhat snarky reply: ‘Yes, but Jesus was a much younger man…only half your age when he died.’
Advancing age has something to do with it, I suppose: It tends to sap my energy in the prayer arena. But when I encountered the passage from Psalm 63 that we heard at Mass today, it opened my eyes to a different sort of spiritual defect:
Thus will I bless you while I live;
lifting up my hands, I will call upon your name.
As with the riches of a banquet shall my soul be satisfied,
and with exultant lips my mouth shall praise you.
Having feasted at the Khorassan Ballroom the night before, there was a large measure of gratitude still in my heart. Gratitude for family, for fine food, for song and dance, for new beginnings, for beauty and elegance.
And I realized: A deep sense of gratitude, more than youthful energy, often seems to be the missing ingredient when I find it difficult to pray as I ought.
Let me start there: ‘Thank you, Lord, for the banquet You set ever before me.’ And suddenly I find, it’s not so difficult to pray after all.
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.