Homily 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time This past Friday afternoon I was working out-of-town. After a long week, I was so ready to come home. Nothing more irritating than rushing to the airport, only to find that your flight home is delayed, right? That happened to me yesterday, except this time, the delayed flight was God-sent.As my Uber driver and I made our way to the airport, I was upset because my work took longer than expected and I was going to miss my flight home. All my thoughts were negative. And I got more upset every time we hit a long red light and when traffic slowed to a crawl. As I was returning phone calls, I’m sure that my moodiness was evident to everyone I spoke to. The hardest call I had to make was to my wife. We had planned a special dinner date, just the two of us, and I had to tell her I was not going to make it. Ever the calming influence in my life, Sandra said, “Well, you never know. You might make it. Maybe your flight will be delayed.” “Yeah right,” I said. “The weather is perfect here Dallas. No reason for the flight to be delayed.” My Uber driver, who I am convinced was an angel, said, “Let’s say a little prayer and I’ll call to check on the status of your flight.” As God would have it, my flight was delayed just long enough to allow me to catch the flight home, and in time to make my special date with Sandra. Talk about a lesson in humility. Here I am, a deacon in the Church, too busy wallowing in my own bitterness, to even think about praying for help. But Sandra did. The Uber driver did. And their prayers for me were answered. Not too sure the other 49 passengers on the plane appreciated the delay as much as I did! I got a much needed – and very timely – whop on the head from my guardian angel. Today’s readings are all about the need to persevere in prayer. So, I obviously needed a reminder to practice what I preach!If we are to pray without ceasing, maybe we should spend a few minutes talking about prayer. St. John Damascus said prayer is “the raising of one’s mind and heart to God, or the requesting of good things from God.” St. Therese of Lisieux said prayer is “a surge of the heart; a simple look toward heaven; a cry of recognition and of love.”But, why is prayer so important to our health and why should we pray without ceasing? Our God, who is omnipotent, does not need our prayers, but WE need our prayers, precisely because in prayer we turn our hearts to God. The instant we dial up and start a prayer, we are then and there acknowledging our Creator, reminding us that we are never alone. Prayer elevates our mind and spirit to the supernatural...awakes the heart…turns our focus, our gaze to God.Prayer is the Key that opens our heart to God, so that we can receive God’s grace, His forgiveness, His love and His mercy…and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. In prayer, we find peace.Prayer, of course, can be expressed vocally…spoken or in song. Or, prayer can be expressed mentally, quietly, even silently. St. Theresa of Calcutta was once asked by a journalist. “Sister, you are a holy person. You must pray a lot. What do you say to God when you pray?” “Nothing,” Sister Theresa said. “I just listen.” The journalist pondered that for a moment and then asked. “Well then, what is that God say to you?” “Nothing,” she said. “He just listens.” A good acronym to remember for prayer is ACTS: Adoration, Contrition, Thanksgiving, Supplication. Any or all of these forms make for good prayer. Rote prayers, like the prayers we recite together, are good prayer aids, but prayer and prayerful thoughts become natural when Christ is at the center of our personal universe rather than our ego. It’s important to set aside some time each day for prayer. Whether we read a little meditation from a prayer book or few verses of Scripture, recite a decade of the Rosary, or just sit there in silence with our mind directed towards God, it’s all good. How hard is it take a moment to thank God when we wake up in the morning and when we lie our head down on the pillow at night? How hard is it to remember to give thanks for the meal we are about to eat or to express our thanksgiving for our family, friends and work we have. It takes no extra time at all to ask for God’s blessing when we get behind the wheel, or to ask God to bless our home and protect our family. How about, from this day forward, we make the sign of the cross on the foreheads of our children when we tuck them in bed at night, and bless them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit? How about we bless our spouses each day? Try it for awhile and see what graces and blessings come back to you.A friend of mine once expressed his objection to Catholics praying to the saints. I asked him what the objection was. He said that praying to saints or to Mary violates the First Commandment and is worship of idols. Gave me a chance to explain…NO, IT’S NOT. When we pray to Mary or to a patron saint or to our deceased loved ones, we are not worshipping them. Rather, we are asking them to intercede for us, to pray for us. Why, my friend asked, do Catholics think that intercessory prayer is necessary. Why not pray directly to God? In one sense, my friend is right. God does not need us to pray for each other. God knows our needs before we even ask. But, while God may not need our prayers for each other, they certainly please Him. What is His Great Command? To love God and neighbor. When we pray for each other, we are fulfilling His Great Command to love and care for one another. I asked my friend, “do you ever ask your mom to pray for you?” “I have,” he said. “Well then, what’s wrong with me asking my mom, who is now in heaven and among the communion of saints, to pray for me and my family?” I think a light went off in his head…the light of Christ.But we are busy people. We work long hours. Lots of bills to pay. Many chores at home. Keeping up with our children’s schedule is even harder. At night, we are exhausted. Where are earth are we supposed to find time for prayer? Pope John Paul II, now Saint Pope John Paul II, said that “those who say they don’t have for prayer are not lacking time, but lacking love.”Ouch! I am a living testimony to this truth. When I thought I was going to miss my flight yesterday, my thoughts were filled with anger and bitterness, instead of love and patience. Without love, I didn’t even think to pray. But thank God for the intercessory prayer of my wife and the Uber driver. God heard their prayers for me and got me home.