For some years now, the Piarists have aimed to renew and promote Continuous Prayer in our schools, being faithful to the heritage received from St. Joseph Calasanz and wishing to adapt it to our times.
Called by the line of action of the last General Chapter: “To care for, deepen, update and spread the Charismatic tradition of Continuous Prayer that Calasanz started as a unique Piarist contribution to the new evangelization”, we have carried out studies of deepening in the prayer experience of St. Joseph Calasanz, in the practice of Continuous Prayer developed in the first Pious Schools, and in the evolution of the education in piety that throughout history has been lived in our Order. At the same time, we move forward in the updating of our activity, in fidelity to the original inspiration, adapting it to our time and educational action.
In recent months, at the request of the Province and from the experience of my school, I have accompanied formation meetings in Continuous Prayer with teachers from some of the schools of the Province. I have been pleasantly surprised and grateful for the welcome and participation of the educators. Later on, each school staff takes its own path towards the progressive implementation of an activity, but with a clear awareness that the Piarist educator, co-operator of the Truth, will accompany the prayer of the students to the extent that they find in their own prayer, inspiration and impulse for their own life.
“The voice of God is the voice of a spirit that comes and goes, touches the heart and passes by: one does not know from where it comes or when it blows; hence it is very important to be always vigilant so that it does not come unexpectedly and pass by without fruit”. (To Narni, 1622).
With these words of St. Joseph Calasanz, the inspiration for many of the dynamics of our Continuous Prayer, I would like to share with you some reflections that, born from our experience, guide our particular way of living the activity with our children:
God’s visit is always unexpected. We plan our prayer life, but God easily surprises us in the dispositions and attitudes that children develop as they experience prayer and the reflection/meditation that accompanies it. Children also educate us, adults, in attitudes which, in their simplicity and plainness, open wide the door of the heart to God’s action in us.
- Quiet to listen
We live in a society that drags us towards an intense sensory activity, resulting in dispersion of attention and little communication with our inner world, something we perceive especially in our students. In prayer, silence and listening open us to communication with our own inner world. The presence of God, always healing and consoling, pacifies and illuminates any restlessness that disturbs our conscience. As they are educated in prayer, children, in their characteristic ductility, discover in silence and listening a source of life.
- The voice of God
God speaks to us, because He loves us and calls us to live together with Him, in a permanent encounter of friendship. He speaks to us in many ways, primarily through the revealed Word, but also in the sign of his Presence that he has imprinted on creation, in the encounter with other people, especially within the family, in the different situations of life. Some of these are adverse, causing us to invoke God’s help and protection; others are prosperous, giving rise to trust and gratitude for God’s manifested goodness. But it is in the Word of the Gospel that children find a particular predilection for Jesus, in their desire to listen to it, memorise it, preserve it and communicate it to the people they love and who accompany them in their every day.
- that touches the heart.
The presence of God, actualised in prayerful listening to his Word renewed in the activities of each day, opens our hearts to the Spirit that God sends into our lives. The Holy Spirit inspires, guides, enlightens and accompanies us. Children patiently invoke him as the friend who leads them to Jesus. As the Spirit “touches” us, he awakens our thirst for God and raises the joy and trust that so vivifies the souls of children.
Let us “let God work”, as St. Joseph Calasanz exhorted, in the hearts of children and their educators so that, as our prayer for Piarist vocations says, “soon there will be no child left who does not praise the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit”.
Article included in the BTN Yearbook number 5.