What is the great secret for succeeding in the works of the apostolate, in order to obtain satisfactory results for our work?
Every art has its secret. You who go to school and have some idea of art, you will know that every school differs from every other school. The school of Raphael had a given way of forming the figures; it had its secret; and so it was with Giotto, Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. And you could also say the same about other leaders; each one had his own secret of success, to conquer and reach the summit or break the record...
Well then, what is the secret for success in the apostolate of Christian education, in the field of Christian charity? I will teach you the secret this evening.
This secret is: union with God, to live with God, in God, united with God, to have the spirit always raised to God. In other words, it is intense prayer, according to the definition of St. Thomas: this is the great secret! St. Thomas defined prayer as ‘elevatio mentis in Deum’: prayer is the raising of our mind to God.
Prayer is the great means of succeeding in all that concerns our religious life; prayer is the great power that conquers all, the great way to succeed concerning ourselves and concerning others, in order to make ourselves perfect and to diffuse good in the souls of others.
The union of our soul, of our spirit with God is the great means of succeeding, of enriching all our actions! All that is done is, thus, transformed into gold, because everything is done for the glory of God and everything becomes prayer.
Although we have grown up in prayer, I would say, we do not always have the idea and the concept of prayer, of what prayer really is. Prayer is the greatest weapon, the greatest moral force, the greatest way of succeeding in every way of life, whatever it may be.: this great secret is union with God; prayer which is not mechanical, but an elevation, which it should be, a union with God. So that the great man was right who said: man is as good as his prayer; and you are as good as your prayer!
How much closer we feel to God when, weak as we are, we are attached most firmly to the One Who can do all things; the more we are united to Him, the more we become strong in the Spirit. The more humble we are, the more will our prayer be humble, which is the first condition. It is not for nothing that we have in the Gospel the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican.
We know what was the prayer of the Pharisee, puffed up and full of himself : ‘I thank you Lord .... I am not like these others!’
And we know the other prayer of the Publican: ‘Lord, have pity on me’. The prayer of the Publican is humble and confident!
We must have Faith! We must have Faith!...Not for nothing, Jesus Christ said many times in the Gospel: ‘Your Faith has saved you!’
Prayer must have a soul, and the soul of prayer is Faith: the Faith which can obtain everything and which moves mountains; prayer which is not limited to a certain time, but which must be the constant praise, the prayer which sets no limits, which leaves God free, which does not want to shackle God’s hands... You have been given the concept of the maternal Providence of God Who wants us to pray to Him, even though He knows all our needs and wishes to satisfy them.
We must pray! Prayer is so valuable! We grow so much through praying! And if it happens that often things are obtained without prayer, then man is building a tomb for himself. Tasso says :
He does not build who wants to construct
Empires on worldly foundations;
He will cause more ruins
And from them will come oppression
And he will have only built a sepulchre for himself!
(Tasso, Jerusalem Freed, ch.1, v.25)
These verses of Tasso are the translation of 'Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders of it labour in vain'
Do not consider studying as your first duty, nor is your first duty literature or science, neither is it philosophy or theology, as a science in itself; but make your first duty is in praying, in prayer.
May our prayer rise to God like a cloud of incense - to use an expression of the prophet, David: ‘Lord, direct my prayer to rise like incense in your sight, as I raise my arms in evening sacrifice'. May all the people burn like perfumed incense at the tripods and altars of their divinity. Our prayer must rise to God like the perfume of incense.
Buona Notte [Good Night] of 26-9-1937.Parola VII, 56-59