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It’s hard to believe how fast a year can fly by in a blink of an eye. And yet, that’s exactly what has happened to me. Just one year ago I was sitting in these very pews thinking about how my life would change as a staff member at The Basilica. I had just stepped down from my position in the U.S. Air Force and my husband and I drove our three-month-old daughter across the country to our new-again home. While we grew up in the region, we weren’t the same people who lived here years ago. We were now a family. We owned a home. Life now carried a new meaning.
And it was hard.
We’ve all experienced some sort of transition in our lives. Maybe it’s a move across the country, the loss of a loved one, meeting your life partner, a miscarriage, or a loss of a job. Any transition is hard. The minute we think we have everything together, we are quickly reminded we don’t.
For my family and I, I was fearful of my inadequacies. I was worried my military life had changed me from who I once was and that perhaps my talents weren’t really what was needed in a staff member at The Basilica. On the other hand, I was scared. This new job meant new faces, new tasks, new stress. With my new family, I felt overwhelmed and fearful that we had just made the worst decision of our lives by leaving behind our stable careers, reliable health insurance, and support system from our last home.
As the days passed and fall turned into summer seemingly overnight I found out that we survived the transition just fine. There were plenty of bumps along the way, but we made it. And I am so grateful.
As I reflected on the readings today, the psalm reminded me that “God is my helper…the Lord upholds my life” (Ps 54:6). Why didn’t I remember this a year ago when everything seemed crazy and out of control? Because I’m human. And sinful. And I forget just how great our God really is.
I also found out God wanted me to use my gifts here and it is incredibly humbling to know that I have been given the gift to call this Basilica family my home. If you know any of the staff here, you know they are all incredibly talented. I feel humbled to just say I am part of the team. But then there are the volunteers. They give so much of their time, talent, and treasure. There’s so much good happening in and around The Basilica.
And there’s so much good yet to come. This week Pope Francis will come to the U.S. I am confident his visit will be nothing less than incredible. But I also know it will be challenging. I expect he will deliver a message that is not easy for us to understand or even carry out. But I pray that we can all remember the psalm from today: “God is my helper…the Lord upholds my life.”
After the Pope’s visit, we as a global Church will begin the Year of Mercy—another challenging topic but an important one—important to our global Church, local Church, and every single person we meet. This will be an opportunity for all of us to reflect on how we give mercy and receive it as well as how it can change our lives and the lives around us.
For now, I simply pray that we all take the time to listen to the call in our lives and trust in God as our helper. Because through God, all things are possible.
If you haven’t visited the Reardon Rectory this summer, you may not be aware of all the work that is going on. This summer we are renovating the fourth floor to create space for our art and archives storage; installing some handicapped accessible bathrooms; renovating the third floor kitchen; installing a fire sprinkler system; and adding central air conditioning. Trying to work amidst the noise and general commotion has, at times, been challenging. It reminded me of a comment some friends made many years ago when they were remodeling their home. They told me that they could have afforded it, they would have moved out while their house was being remodeled.
Perhaps the biggest challenge during the renovation and upgrading of the Reardon Rectory has been the fact that, for various periods of time, our staff has had to vacate their offices while work was being done in them. This has necessitated relocating people to various areas of the campus. Some are temporary office-ing in our school building; others are in the ground level rooms in the church; others are in Cowley Center; and others have needed to share office space. The difficulty has been trying to remember where someone is when you are trying to locate them. At times it has reminded me of the “Where’s Waldo” game from several years ago. You knew Waldo was somewhere in the picture, but you had to look hard to find him.
As I reflected on this experience, it reminded me of my sometimes vain attempts to find God’s presence in my life. Now I know and believe that God is present in my life. Unfortunately, there have been—and no doubt will continue to be—times, when despite my best and most prayerful efforts, I can’t seem to find or feel God’s presence in my life. Now these times don’t occur regularly or with any consistency. Most often they occur when I am trying to make a decision or come to clarity about something. At these times, I tell myself that I am trying to understand and follow God’s will. The reality is, though, that more often I am trying to “push” God to give me a sense of clarity and direction. I have discovered, though, that God does not operate on my timeline or according to my agenda.
God is always with us in our lives. This we believe. This is our faith. At times, however, for a variety of reasons we may have a hard time finding or feeling God’s presence. At these times it would be easy to give up on God, and presume that God either doesn’t care about us or that God is preoccupied with other matters. At these times, the challenge is to trust that as God has been with us in the past, so God is with us in the present moment and will continue to be with us in the future.
Having faith in God—believing that God loves us and is always with us—is not always easy. But then again, if faith were easy we’d all be believers. Faith calls us to trust, though, that God’s hand is guiding us even when the way is uncertain, and that ultimately God will lead us into a future full of hope.
Well, here we are…Labor Day weekend, the un-official end to the summer season. One last weekend to enjoy the cabin and boat, cross those last items off on the school supply list, help your college student get moved into his or her dorm, do some fall gardening, pull out the Vikings (or Packers!) gear and begin to dig out the sweaters and rakes in anticipation of the leaves that will begin to fall.
At The Basilica of Saint Mary, the end of summer means lots of preparation for fall programs. Our RCIA process began this past week on September 1. The inquirers along with their sponsors and the RCIA team will meet weekly until after Easter. Our children and youth will be back to programs in a few weeks. (Parents—there is still time to register if you have not already done so.) The fall will see preparation for First Reconciliation, along with the beginning of Confirmation preparation for our youth. The Rock Solid Marriage Team will begin a marriage enrichment series. The Basilica Young Adults (BYA) will continue with their educational, social, and service opportunities—Sunday Night Live, making sandwiches and a fall retreat. We also have a diverse and interesting line up of adult learning program opportunities available this year, many of our programs focusing on the Year of Mercy that begins in the new liturgical year. (Please see www.mary.org or the fliers at the back of church to learn more.
In our homes, autumn may mean a busier lifestyle…more school commitments, more practices and rehearsals, more volunteer commitments, more meetings. fall just seems to be the time of year when we hit the ground running, full speed ahead. At this time of year it is easy to take on a lot, after all, we are all re-energized and rejuvenated after our wonderfully relaxing summers, right?
While we look ahead to fall, it is so important that we make our faith lives a priority in the midst of everything else that is going on in our lives. There are so many fulfilling ways to accomplish this goal and deepen our faith lives this season. Keep your preferred weekend Mass time sacred—consider Mass to be a firm commitment each weekend. Participate in hospitality following Mass to meet others within our parish community. Carve out time for morning or evening prayer, in solitude or with your spouse or family. Consider what talents you might share with your parish in a volunteer capacity. Commit to signing up for one (or more!) adult learning opportunities offered at the parish this program year. Take time to listen to God…where or how are you being called to deepen your faith? However you are called, listen! Listen and commit!
Wishing you a happy, productive, and faith-filled season filled with many blessings. We hope to see you next weekend at our Basilica Parish Picnic!
On his recent trip to Ecuador, Bolivia, and Paraguay, Pope Francis answered questions from journalists who were traveling with him on the flight back to Rome. One of the journalists on the flight asked him if he would study American criticisms of his critiques of the global economy and finance before his trip to the United States in September. Pope Francis replied: “I have heard that some criticisms were made in the United States—I've heard that—but I have not read them and have not had time to study them well. If I have not dialogued with the person who made the criticism,” he said, “I don't have the right to comment on what that person is saying.”
Once again I am impressed with Pope Francis. He could have responded to the journalist’s question dismissively, or suggested that those who critiqued his words were ill informed or just plain wrong. Instead, he said that now that his trip to South America had concluded he must begin studying for his trip to America and that his preparation would include a careful reading of the criticisms of his remarks about economic life. I find this enormously refreshing. In our world today it is so easy to pigeonhole people with whom we disagree and/or simply dismiss them out of hand. How refreshing it is to find someone who says he needs to study the criticisms of those who disagree with him so that he can enter into dialogue with them.
I think Pope Francis’ non-dismissive attitude is very Christ-like. In the Gospels we often find Jesus at odds with people—most frequently with the scribes and Pharisees. Jesus, though, never dismissed them or refused to engage them. Time and time again he entered into dialogue with them. And even when they were trying to trap him with a contrived question or fabricated situation, he never rebuffed them or declined to talk with them. Instead he allowed them to be in his company and he continually sought to enter into a dialogue with them.
In our world today where more and more often people seem to talk “at” each other rather than talk “to” each other, it is good to be reminded that this wasn’t the way of Christ. As followers of Christ, it is our responsibility to try to lead by example and to engage others in dialogue and civil discourse. I believe this is especially true about those with whom we disagree or where common ground seems lacking.
Now the above is not to say that we need to abandon our convictions or keep our beliefs to ourselves when we engage in dialogue with others—particularly those with whom we disagree. It is to suggest, though, that as Pope Francis said “If I have not dialogued with the person who made the criticism, I don’t have the right to comment on what that person is saying.”
Landing back in the Twin Cities in the fall of 2002, Anne Jaeger moved into the Walker Art Center neighborhood and she loved walking to Sunday Mass at The Basilica.
At church, Anne heard the plea for financial and volunteer stewardship. As a U of M student, she wasn’t in a position to give money, but she was strong, had a flexible schedule and knew she could give her time. She joined the parish Shoveling Team. “If it snowed on your assigned day,” Anne explained, “you reported to The Basilica and helped shovel.”
As an outdoor lover, the Shoveling Team was a great fit for Anne. She described it as her “first step into The Basilica’s inner world.” After hearing about an after-Mass panel discussion on energy conservation, her interest was peaked again. She attended and met Janice Andersen, The Basilica’s Christian Life Director. “Janice was so welcoming, and immediately invited me to an upcoming event.” This led Anne to meet Colleen Maiers, parish leader of Pax Cum Terra, a group focused on justice, peace, and the environment (now our Eco Stewardship Team). Finding this work right up her alley, Anne commented, “the hooks were set.” She still remembers meeting Colleen the first time over coffee after Mass. Anne experienced a feeling of familiarity, mentioned it, and found that Colleen felt it too. They found past connections at both Holy Angels and Annunciation, and Anne learned that at one point, Colleen had been her babysitter. They’ve stayed in touch ever since.
As Anne’s involvement grew, she joined Dennis Hoffman as co-leader of the Blessing of Bicycles, an event she loves. After a few years, she needed to step back from leadership and tried to find a volunteer leader but wasn’t successful. She announced that she would lead for another year and then step down, but no clear leader emerged. However, more volunteers stepped up and owned various components of the event. Eventually, a great team emerged who shared responsibility and made the blessing happen.
Anne also served for a year as Facilitator of JustFaith and led others to explore social issues and justice through the lens of Catholic social teaching. Drawn to be most active with Christian Life ministries, Anne recently served as the elected Christian Life representative on the Parish Council.
As a Saturday Shoe Ministry volunteer since 2010 (part of our St. Vincent de Paul outreach ministry to those in need), Anne helps set up and provide shoe vouchers to families whose children need new shoes for school, or people starting new jobs who need new footwear.
She remembers starting in this ministry when our U.S. economy was tanking. “Every Saturday there were long lines of people waiting for us to open. Often, volunteers worked longer hours to try and talk to everyone who had waited in line for help.” Over time she has come to measure swings in the economy by the people waiting in line on Saturdays.
Clearly moved by her experiences, Anne had tears in her eyes as she spoke. “I’m struck by the deep faith of the people I meet. People often ask me to say a prayer for them, or sometimes they ask me to pray with them. It’s so simple,” said Anne. “It’s a very brief interaction. The people who come to St. Vincent de Paul trust that they will receive help—but what they may not know is they always leave something of themselves behind.” Serving in SVdP has expanded Anne’s own feelings of gratitude. While her job is to give shoe vouchers, Anne said “what this SVdP ministry truly provides is hope.”
What does Anne get out of volunteering at The Basilica? At the heart of it is community and friendship. She’s met amazing people who have inspired her to stretch and grow in her spirituality and faith. Meeting these individuals has challenged her to look at the world in new ways.
“Some people may find The Basilica to be very big initially,” Anne commented. “Simply following my own interests led to meeting just the right person which gave me an instant link to the parish.” Anne got involved and enthusiastically describes her volunteer engagement as “super fulfilling.” She encourages everyone “to make that first connection, and just lean in.”
In a letter dated August 5, 1905, Fr. Cullen wrote about the Pro-Cathedral, now known as The Basilica of Saint Mary: “May this temple which will soon be dedicated to his honor be an earthly center from which the Word of God will be in perpetuity preached, the sacraments holily received, and public and private worship faithfully and uninterruptedly offered. May the cross which tops its massive dome preach constantly to all our citizens the significance of Calvary’s tragedy and the love which through it was affirmed for men, and may the Holy Sacrifice be daily offered as long as our city lasts, for the living and the dead.”
As I write this column, exactly 100 years later I am inspired by his prophetic words. More importantly, I am edified by the thousands upon thousands of parishioners who made his vision come true. For indeed, since the very beginning the members of our community have dedicated themselves to preach the Word of God both in word and in deed. The sacraments have been celebrated with great care and devotion. And The Basilica has been a place of public and private prayer in times of personal trials and triumphs as well as in times of local, national, or international accomplishments and disasters. All of this happened under The Basilica’s massive dome topped by the cross, which proclaims God’s everlasting love and never-ending mercy.
Our rich archives are a true treasure trove of the stories of our forebears in the faith who laid the groundwork for our Basilica as we know it today. At first there were the Irish and Sicilian immigrant families. They not only paid for the building but built up the community. Their descendants still consider The Basilica their home though they may have moved away, even out of state. Successive families have taken up the torch and continued to build on the vision laid out by Fr. Cullen. Today, we come from far and wide; from north and south, east and west as we represent the colorful and rich tapestry of Catholicism at work in the world. And we, too, continue the vision of Fr. Cullen, our first Pro-Cathedral pastor.
During the dedication of the Pro-Cathedral on the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary into Heaven, August 15, 1915, Archbishop Ireland who conceived of this church some 12 years earlier exclaimed: “Cities and nations honor their heroes with statues and paintings, with lasting memorials in brick and stone, and literature. Who would not bare his head when he stands at Mount Vernon, before the tomb of the honored father of this country? What true American does not feel his soul thrilled when the Star Spangled Banner, the emblem of this country, is raised to float on high? Who would deem it wrong or out of place to salute this banner? In the same spirit we are gathered today to dedicate this Pro-Cathedral to the honor of the saints of God.”
One hundred years after these daunting words were spoken we have much to celebrate because since that very day, The Basilica of Saint Mary has honored the saints of God by inspiring devotion, instilling faith, and evoking prayer. Therefore, we celebrate the building, the faith it represents, and the community it houses. I know of no better way to do that than by recommitting ourselves to the vision expressed so eloquently one hundred years ago. Let us preach our common faith with renewed vigor in our actions and in our words. let us celebrate the sacraments often and with great devotion. And Let us pray both individually and together for our own needs and for the needs of the entire world. Thus, we will indeed be a living testament to the very “cross which tops the massive dome” of our beloved Basilica as Fr. Cullen and Archbishop Ireland wished and prayed for 100 years ago.
This past Memorial Day weekend one of my cousins organized a group of cousins to meet on Saturday morning at Calvary cemetery in Anoka to clean up the gravesites of our various relatives. All the branches of the Bauer family were represented by at least one cousin, so there was quite a group of us. All told, among the Bauer’s—and the in-laws from various families—we cleaned up twenty-six graves. And with each grave we told stories, sometimes shed a tear or two, took a picture to send to the cousins who couldn’t make it, and remembered each individual with love and gratitude.
Tending to graves has a long history in my family. Back in the early 1930s my mother’s parents lived in Roundup, Montana, where my grandparents owned the general store. My mother had one sister and one brother. She was the youngest. Unfortunately, my uncle died of Spotted Mountain Fever when he was about twelve or thirteen years old. It was a devastating loss for my grandparents. The loss was compounded by the fact that as a result of the Great Depression people couldn’t pay their bills and my grandparents lost their store. They had to move to Minneapolis where my grandfather was able to find work—leaving behind the grave of their only son. Until her death my grandmother would send money every year to a friend in Roundup so her friend could “fix up” my uncle’s grave.
Now, my grandmother had a deep and great faith. She was not afraid of death, and in fact I think she looked forward to what came next. She truly believed in Christ’s promise of eternal life. The reason she wanted my uncle’s grave “fixed up” each year was not because she didn’t believe that he was in heaven. Rather, I think it was her way of remembering him, as well as reminding her grandchildren that he was a part of our lives and our heritage even though we never had the chance to meet him.
There is something consoling about visiting a cemetery or cleaning up a grave site. It reminds us that the person(s) who died, while no longer physically with us, still has a place in our lives and in our hearts. Our memories of them remind us how important they were and still are to us.
Remembering the dead, praying for them, visiting their graves and perhaps shedding a tear for them does not diminish or negate our Christian faith. In fact, I would argue that it is part of our Christian faith. It reminds us that those who have died are still a part of our lives. They live on in our minds and hearts, in our memories and feelings. We also believe, though, that they live on in the presence of our eternal God. Wonderful as this is, though, there is even more. For we also believe that if we follow Christ in this life, so we too will come to share eternal life with all those who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith.
Tending to a grave is, I believe, an act of faith. It gives us consolation in the face of death, comfort in our loss, and hope that one day we too will come to share eternal life.
Not expecting it to be so, this summer has been all over the map with regards to events taking place one after another. It felt like there was breaking news every other day around weather issues throughout the country, terrorist attacks around the world, the ramping up of the upcoming election year, and then there has been so much happening in our worldwide church as well as in our local church. Often I felt myself wanting to withdraw from the ugliness of the news, to crawl back into my personal space or run away to a desert island without any technology whatsoever. To disengage from everyone and everything around me would have been a luxury.
I found myself fighting off depression and hopelessness some days. And some days I cried out to God, “What is happening in YOUR world?” And God turned right around and asked, “What is happening in YOURS?”
A friend and I had a conversation the other evening about how difficult life can be, wondering how to maneuver through it gracefully, tactfully, and with hope and faith. She stated that the world is very dark and, without faith and hope, the darkness remains. She was lamenting the fact that her growth in spirituality and Christian action was too slow as far as she was concerned. She wondered if she would ever “get it.” I hated to admit it but I, too, have wondered that myself many times. I would like the path to holiness to be straight and on target but that is so not the case. Many twists and turns have always been in the way, or so it seemed.
It has taken me many years to appreciate all those things that have sidetracked me on my journey. To realize that those very things are the journey itself. Every experience, every person, every event has become my life. They have all come together to help create the person I am today. It is my story and it is unique. Just as yours is. And only by God’s intimate grace, have I come to know God in my story and recognized God in your stories as well. That’s how it works. We live out our story and become immersed in everyone else’s story. And that’s where we find God…in each other’s stories.
So, to reflect on God’s question to me, “What is happening in Yours?” puts a new spin on this situation. In other words, what am I doing about the poverty, oppression, tragedies, hopelessness, and faithlessness around me? How am I bringing God into our world to make a difference? What have I done for the ones who are in need around me? Was I present to each and every person I met this day? Did I live well today? How have I detached from this world and all its false idols? Do I have any regrets about my day? What would I do differently and better the next time? Have I been selfless today? Have I died to self in some small way today?
There is a quotation I found somewhere a while back. I wish I could give credit to someone for it but I am not sure who is the author. “Live in such a way that those who know you, but don't know God, will come to know God because they know you.”
I found this quotation to be very profound and a definite call in my own life. The truth is I cannot live like this on my own. It is only through the Holy Spirit that I am able to try to achieve this. But I have seen God do powerful things with or without me. It does go smoother, I think, if I cooperate with God’s grace. But knowing myself, I don’t always go with the flow. And God knows that about me too. I am grateful that God is patient and understanding because I am a slow learner.
So we come upon another year of beginnings as we move into the season of dying and death—Fall. The season that is so necessary before we can ever get to resurrection. This challenge lies before all of us to live with a difference for others who need God so desperately in our world today.
In July 2013, Pope Francis gave a homily highlighting three “simple” attitudes: hopefulness, openness to being surprised by God, and living in joy. Recognizing that difficulties are present in the life of every individual and all communities, we are invited to kindle these three attitudes in life.
Hopefulness: “In the face of those moments of discouragement we experience in life… I would like to say forcefully: always know in your heart that God is by your side; he never abandons you! Let us never lose hope! The ‘dragon,’ evil, is present in our history, but it does not have the upper hand. The one with the upper hand is God, and God is our hope!”
We are invited and challenged to identify the ways we are drawn away from trust and hope, and to let go of our need for control. There are times in each of our lives that we become discouraged. There are experiences that challenge us all. Let us recognize these experiences and moments, and remember that we do not have to deal with them alone. God gives us what and who we need, when we need it. God is with us.
Openness to being surprised by God: “Anyone who is a man or woman of hope…knows that even in the midst of difficulties God acts and surprises us….But he asks us to let ourselves be surprised by his love, to accept his surprises. Let us trust God!”
We are invited and challenged to find ways to continually draw nearer to our God, to nurture and deepen our relationship with God as individuals and as a community. Once again, we are asked to let go of our need for control—to yield to the ever present goodness of God. Ultimately, we are asked to accept the incredible reality that we are God’s beloved, and God cares deeply for us.
The simplicity of this request belies the challenge often experienced in living it out. It is amazing how many ways we find to doubt our own goodness or the goodness of another. There seems like endless ways we build walls between ourselves and God, between ourselves and our neighbor. So often, we place our trust in material and worldly powers—actively creating facades of protection that separate our selves from God’s reconciling and healing love. God is with us, and will surprise us—if we trust and open our eyes to see.
Living in joy: “If we walk in hope, allowing ourselves to be surprised by the new life that Jesus offers us, we have joy in our hearts, and we cannot fail to be witnesses of this joy…If we are truly in love with Christ and if we sense how much he loves us, our heart will ‘lighten up’ with a joy that spreads to everyone around us.”
We are invited and challenged to accept the profound gift of God’s love in our day-to-day life and embrace joy. As a spiritual discipline, joy is a powerful attitude that goes beyond the familiar experience of being happy. Our faith is full of sacred stories of people who have experienced deep trials and tribulations, yet emit joy. We may know people in our lives who have many struggles and hardships, yet radiate a deep joy. The joy appears to come from someplace deep—beyond the realities we can see. It is not simply a happiness. Perhaps we have had glimpses of this in our lives, as well. Once again, we are invited to let go of control—finding ways to choose joy, and let go of fear, resentment, or an attitude of competitive scarcity.
Our invitation and our challenge is to live a faithful life that puts our hope in God, recognizes the daily gifts of God’s love, and thereby finding joy amid the realities of everyday life.
What do you need to grow in these three simple, yet profound, attitudes? How does The Basilica community support you in your growth? How do you support others? As we live as people of God, rooting our hopes and expectations in our faith, let us focus our lives on these attitudes and grow in love together.
A while back, I started praying the rosary again. Now, I never really abandoned the rosary, I just didn’t pray it on a regular basis. What got me started again, though, was my driving. Recently, I noticed that when I was driving, my irritation with other drivers had begun to move more toward anger. When I realized this, I decided I needed to do something about it. I tried turning off the radio and reciting some scripture verses, but after a few minutes, I found my attention wandering, and I was right back to criticizing other drivers. So, I decided to go back to the tried and true and started saying the rosary. And lo and behold, it has helped.
Now I’d like to tell you that my irritation level while driving has been reduced to zero, but that hasn’t happened. I still get irritated with other drivers, but when that happens I say the next Hail Mary for whatever driver irritated me. And when I do that, I can feel my irritation slipping away.
There is something about the cadence of the rosary that is soothing to my mind and my soul. I don’t have to think, I just have to let the Hail Mary’s, Glory Be’s, and Our Father’s carry me. As the beads slip gently through my fingers and I feel the soft weight of the rosary in my hand, I experience a definite comfort and a sense of peace. What is especially appealing about the rosary for me, though, is its portability. You can pray the rosary anywhere and at any time. And if push comes to shove, and you don’t have a rosary handy, you can always use your fingers to count the Hail Mary’s. The only problem I have is that I get the Joyful, Glorious and the Luminous mysteries confused. So, for now, I am using just the Sorrowful mysteries.
Now, like most forms of prayer, the rosary has some strong advocates and promoters, as well as some critics. My grandmother Degnan was a great advocate of the rosary. She prayed the rosary daily for her grandchildren. And if we were experiencing any difficulties, she doubled her efforts on our behalf. I know I was the recipient of untold decades of the rosary during my college years. As an added bonus—from my grandmother’s perspective—the rosary was a great non-medicinal aid to sleep. She would start a rosary when she went to bed, and invariably she would fall asleep with the rosary in her hand. And if she woke up in the night, as she often did, she would pick up saying the rosary right where she left off.
The rosary is a great form of prayer for some people, but I realize it is not for everyone. The important thing, though, is not how we pray, but that we pray. Prayer helps us to lift our minds and hearts to God and open ourselves to God’s will and work in our lives. Prayer can comfort us, challenge us, guide us, inspire us, enlighten us, and empower us. It can help decrease our stress levels, reduce our tension, and—while driving—can even calm our irritation or anger.