'Back to basics' approach can help build daily prayer life

The practical elements of a simple, devotional faith and the benefits of a daily routine that supports it, was the context for the presentation by visiting Jesuit Father Chris Collins at the University of Notre Dame Australia, Fremantle, the eRecord reports..

Fr Collins is the Assistant to the President for Mission and Identity at St Louis University (USA) and Assistant Professor of Theological Studies in the area of systematic theology and spirituality and was in Australia for speaking engagements on both sides of the country.

He regularly gives retreats around the USA based on the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius Loyola (founder of the Society of Jesus) and has based the content of his talks on his latest publication, Three Moments of the Day: Praying with the Heart of Jesus.

Fr Chris Collins SJ speaking on prayer at The University of Notre Dame, Fremantle. PHOTO: The eRecord.

Fr Chris Collins SJ speaking on prayer at The University of Notre Dame, Fremantle. PHOTO: The eRecord.


“In a lot of our conversations back home in the States, where I work at the university and in the local Archdiocese, we keep reflecting on ‘what is the way forward for our community of faith and for ourselves as individuals?’ Fr Collins said.

He went on to explain that in the life of our faith there can be all kinds of reasons for discouragement along the way: in our faith; in our church; in our countries; in our own personal lives.

“There’s a great deal that can be a source of discouragement for us,” Fr Collins shared.

“And that can get overwhelming and sometimes we can find ourselves getting a bit paralysed by some of those reasons for discouragement, which are real and which are many.

“I think that in our life of faith – and this is really what I’d like to reflect on a bit and invite you to consider – there is a lot to be said for getting simple and coming back to the origin, really coming back to the basics of our life of faith.”

Fr Collins pointed out that, fortunately for Catholics, that simplicity is very much alive today and is something that we can easily grasp through a heart of devotion.

“I think it is still the same Jesus that is available to us, that some people have pointed us towards to say ‘follow him, trust me, you’re going to want to spend time with him – get to know him and don’t worry if you still have questions about things, just start following.’”

“I would suggest that this might be the context of the discipleship that each one of us is called to: to continue for me to spend time alone with the Lord and have awkward encounters with him; ask him awkward things; confess that I don’t even know what to ask for in my prayer sometimes; I don’t even know how to pray – and he says: ‘well, come just spend some time with me’.”

Fr Collins said the three moments of the day provide a framework that supports active practice of St Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises: At the very beginning of the day, during morning prayer, we offer up to the Lord of all the little things; the third moment of the day is at the end, to review the day and ask ourselves, ‘what happened?’ – and then living the Eucharist as the core of our day.

“It’s a simple but accessible way to get my mind around, at the very beginning and at the end of the day I have these bookends, if you will, to think about my relationship with the Lord,” he said.

“In the end, it’s really all about meeting every person, one at a time and getting to know the story and sharing our own stories: this is the way that Jesus operates in the Gospels.”

This is an abridged version of an article by Eric Martin first published in the eRecord.