The staff at St. Paul’s returned on Wednesday afternoon from a two-day planning retreat; an opportunity before each semester begins to reflect, pray, and make good resolutions for the apostolate at St. Paul’s. In a particular way, Fr. Eric Nielsen exhorted the staff about the importance of prayer and personal piety, both for them and for the students (and young professionals!) served at St. Paul’s. As a fodder for meditation, he provided the staff with several selections from Blessed John Paul II’s famous Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte, which he wrote at the close of the year 2000.
Here are a couple excellent points from John Paul (emphasis added):
“We cannot come come to the fullness of contemplation of the Lord’s face by our own efforts alone, but by allowing grace to take us by the hand. Only the experience of silence and prayer offers the proper setting for the growth and development of a true, faithful and consistent knowledge of that mystery which finds its culminating expression in the solemn proclamation by the Evangelist St. John: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as the only Son from the Father” (John 1:14).
It is not therefore a matter of inventing a “new program”. The program already exists: it is the plan found in the Gospel and in the living Tradition, it is the same as ever. Ultimately, it has its center in Christ himself, who is to be known, loved, and imitated, so that in him we may live the life of the Trinity, and with him transform history until its fulfillment in the heavenly Jerusalem.
Training in holiness calls for a Christian life distinguished above all in the art of prayer. … We have to learn to pray … Prayer develops that conversation with Christ which makes us his intimate friends: “Abide in me and I in you” (John 15:4). This reciprocity is the very substance and soul of the Christian life….
Yes, dear brothers and sisters, our Christian communities must become genuine “schools” of prayer, where the meeting with Christ is expressed not just in imploring help but also in thanksgiving, praise, adoration, contemplation, listening and ardent devotion, until the heart truly “falls in love”.
It is prayer which roots us in the truth. It constantly reminds us of the primacy of Christ and, in union with him, the primacy of the interior life and of holiness.
The complete document Novo Millennio Ineunte is available on the Vatican’s website.