St. Edward on the Lake, Lakeport, MI | DOWNLOAD AUDIO
October 16, 2016
Ex 17:8-13; 2 Tim 3:14-4:2; Lk 18:1-8
The First Reading is a great image that reminds us about the power of prayer. Amalek is waging war against the Israelites. And so Moses, the spiritual leader of the Israelites said that while they engaged Amalek in battle, he would go up the mountain to raise his hands up to God. But not just his hands, but also his heart. This is an image of prayer. Moses is going to pray for God’s people, and we are told that as long as Moses prayed, the battle went well for Israel. But when he let his hands rest, that is, when he started to get tired, the battle went against Israel.
A few things are going on here. Number one, God’s people are always in the midst of a spiritual battle. We are fighting against our enemies: the world, the flesh, and the devil. The three sources of temptation. The world is filled with attractions and distractions that try to lure us away from God. The flesh is our own concupiscence, our passions that tempt us to follow what appeals to us even if we know that it is displeasing to God. The devil, of course, is the tempter. He is the father of lies who tries to lure us, trap us, and discourage us so that we become unfaithful to God. And just as God’s ancient people, the Israelites, were constantly under attack, we too are constantly under attack by the world, the flesh, and the devil.
And just as Moses prayed so that the Israelites’ battle would go well, we need to pray so that our spiritual battle will go well too. We should never underestimate the power of prayer when it comes to spiritual warfare. We’re talking about daily prayer, of course, but especially the Rosary (this being the month of the Rosary). And of course the most powerful prayer of all – the Mass. Faithfulness to daily prayer, the Rosary, and the Mass will give us the strength that we need in order that we might fight our spiritual battles.
Number two, is something that I like to call spiritual fatigue. When Moses’ arms were raised in prayer, the battle went well. But there were times when his arms started to droop a little. He was getting tired. And when his arms fell, the battle started to turn against the Israelites.
Sometimes, we get spiritually fatigued. We get tired of always fighting the battle. There are times when we’re filled with a lot of zeal in our faith. Prayer is easy for us. Our vocation is easy for us. Living the faith and fighting off temptations is easy for us. But there are times when we just get tired of fighting. This is what I mean by spiritual fatigue. The zeal that we once had wears off. Maybe we run into some rather formidable obstacles in our spiritual life. Unfortunately, what often happens when we get spiritually tired, the first thing to go is prayer – the one thing that we especially need when we are spiritually fatigued!
So what’s the cure for spiritual fatigue? The first thing is to simply recognize that spiritual fatigue happens. It’s a normal thing. We can’t be zealous all the time. We’re going to run into challenges in our spiritual life. Some are going to be easy to overcome. Some are going to take a lot out of us. We’re going to get tired. If you’ve never felt fatigue in your spiritual life, then as they say, you’re doing it wrong. You’re probably not engaged in your faith enough. The spiritual life is hard. There are a lot of temptations. The cross is heavy. What God asks of us is demanding. It’s going to take something out of us. We’re going to get tired. That’s normal.
What we have to watch out for is sloth. Spiritual laziness. It happens when we let spiritual fatigue win instead of fighting through it. The spiritual life is hard work, and when we are fatigued, all the more we need to rededicate ourselves to our prayers, our devotions, our spiritual reading despite the lack of enthusiasm. In the Gospel, Jesus talks about persistence in prayer, praying always without becoming weary, and it is that persistence rooted in faith that God will come through that is rewarded in the end.
Second is to get enough rest. As humans, we are both physical and spiritual beings. Spiritual fatigue often brings on physical fatigue and vice versa.
Third is to make sure that we are not isolated in our prayer. When Moses got tired, Aaron and Hur were there to support Moses. Communal prayer is very important along with our individual prayer. It’s why coming together for Mass and family prayer are important.
The feast of St. Edward is October 13. It’s on the Tridentine calendar, but not in the modern calendar, but since he is our patron, we are able to celebrate it and transfer it to a Sunday. He is a great model of persistence in prayer. Edward’s family was exiled when he was young, and the culture around him was less than virtuous. Young Edward desired to live in virtue and not get drawn into the sinfulness of the culture. And so he persevered in holiness. He also prayed fervently that he would be able to go back to his homeland in England, and when he did, he was named king shortly after. As king, cared for the poor, and he built churches so that the faith would grow among the people. St. Edward died in 1066 and was canonized in 1161.
Holiness is tough. Like the Israelites, we must not be afraid to battle for our faith. Like Moses, we have to pray constantly for God’s strength. Through the intercession of St. Edward, may God give us the strength to remain faithful to Him always.