In the first two chapters of the Acts of the Apostles, we get a glimpse of how the Apostles first began to live their life after the Resurrection of Jesus. This Book begins with the description of Jesus’ Ascencion. In this final instruction from Jesus to His Apostles, he tells them to anticipate His gift of the Holy Spirit. He instructs them to be His witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. (Acts 1:8)
After the Ascension, we read the Apostles, along with Mary, the mother of Jesus and other men and women devoted themselves to prayer. (Acts 1:13-14) Then again, at the end of the 2nd Chapter we read a bit more in depth of the early life of the Church:
The devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers. (Acts 2:42)
In these first two chapters of the Book of Acts, we see the importance of 1) Prayer, 2) the daily celebration of the Eucharist, and 3) study of the teachings of the apostles. I imagine this glance at the early Church is some of the motivation of our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI to devote some of these next Wednesday general audiences to speaking about prayer. Here is a brief quote from today’s audience:
“Persons of every age pray because they cannot stop asking themselves the meaning of their existence, which remains obscure and discouraging if they are unable to enter into relationship with the mystery of God and His plan for the world. Human life is a mixture of good and evil, of unwarranted suffering and of joy and beauty that, spontaneously and irresistibly, move us to ask God for the inner light and strength to sustain us on earth, revealing a hope that goes beyond the limits of death”. (Pope Benedict XVI, General Audience, May 4, 2011)
In a world as fast-paced as ours which puts such a high value on “productivity and efficiency”, it is easy to undervalue prayer. Besides underestimating the true value of prayer, our media-centered culture, always driving us to seek the next piece of information can also “program us” in a way that makes it very difficult to enter into that “inner space” of quiet, calm, and peace where we are alone with God.
But, this prayer is essential for us to not only understand the LIFE that is ours through the Paschal Mystery in the person of the Risen Christ, but to also LIVE this LIFE fully. This Easter season is a time to rediscover this LIFE of the Risen Christ. Prayer and Eucharist and study of the teaching of the apostles (such as reading the Acts of the Apostles) are primary ways in which we do just that.
It seems this Easter Season is a time for us as well to examine how well we really celebrate this LIFE of CHRIST in the Eucharist. This Easter season is a great time to examine the value we place on this central and greatest prayer of the Church. This Easter season is a great time to re-evaluate our weekend priorities. Are we making Sunday Mass the priority of the week? Even though this is still an “obligation” of the Church, the Easter season challenges us to “freely choose and joyfully celebrate” the Sunday Mass!
So, my dear friends, while we are still in the early days of this Easter Season, while we are still close to the greatest celebration of faith in the Liturgical year, let us renew our commitment to prayer and regular reception of the Eucharist. Make time to read the Scriptures and allow the Holy Spirit to continue to deepen our own wisdom and understanding, knowledge and awe at the precious gift that is ours in the Risen Christ!