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 | By Michael St. Pierre, Ed.D.

Persistence and Perseverance

Push Through the Challenges to Remain Prayerful

Every once in a while as we leave church, my 18-year-old complains that the homily did not speak “directly” to him as a teenager. While I agree with him that a perfect homily every week which speaks directly to our hearts would be ideal, my Dad-voice chimed in with some words of reason and reality: The homilist must address the Scripture passages of the day, not to mention other themes or liturgical seasons when preparing a homily. And then we found common ground: We both admire and respect our priest. 

But this sense of dissatisfaction can well up in any of us from time to time. Situations like this can test our perseverance in our faith lives as well as in other areas of our lives. When things aren’t the way we want it in the way we want it, we can feel like a disgruntled teenager.

These challenges aren’t limited to parish life. In personal prayer, it can be hard to persist, especially when it seems that God isn’t answering our prayers. The saints often refer to this as “dryness,” or that sense that God is far away and we are simply going through the motions. As Pope emeritus Benedict XVI said in 2007, “Holiness does not consist in never having erred or sinned. Holiness increases the capacity for conversion, for repentance, for willingness to start again and, especially, for reconciliation and forgiveness.”

The fourth habit of a prayerful person, Persistence and Perseverance, answers the question: “How can I push through the challenges of life and still remain prayerful?”

Two areas in particular allow us space in which to build greater resilience: active participation in parish life and daily prayer. Both areas are a gift.

First, being a member of a parish is a two-way street. Finding your place in a parish is essential, and this comes from involvement. In a parish, parishioners have the ability to transform. Finding one ministry in which to invest time and energy can pay dividends and place the emphasis on others rather than on ourselves.

Second, daily prayer affords us an opportunity for resilience. You might invite a priest, religious brother or religious sister to serve as your spiritual director, offering you feedback on your prayer life at regular intervals. Or you might look for a faith-sharing group online or in person that will support you and give you space to talk about your prayer life. When we hear how others pray, we can return to prayer with greater resolve.

The Church today needs persistent, perseverant Catholics who can make our parishes inviting communities of holiness, vitality and outreach.

Michael St. Pierre, Ed.D. is the executive director of the Catholic Campus Ministry Association, the founder of Nonprofit Productive and the author of The Five Habits of Prayerful People: A No-Excuses Guide to Strengthening Your Relationship with God.