Archbishop reveals ways to grow in prayer

Nissa LaPoint

The best way for faithful to speak to God is to open their hearts to him, sharing their desires and seeking graces, Archbishop Samuel Aquila said.

“It’s entering into that union and a conversation like we have with one another,” the archbishop said about prayer. “The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us that prayer is really the lifting up of our hearts to God. And it’s, in the words of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, a gaze at God or a movement within our hearts to speak heart-to-heart with the Lord.”

Archbishop Aquila spoke about prayer in a series of podcasts released this month shared by a new local ministry called Ask a Bishop. Anand Bheemarasetti and his wife, Lindsey, of St. Catherine of Siena Parish, launched what they describe as a “digital school of life and faith,” designed to share bishops’ answers to faith queries through multimedia.

In one podcast the archbishop said faithful can learn about prayer from the Gospels.

“We are told in the Gospel that Jesus would often go to a quiet place to pray and to truly be in communion with the Father,” the archbishop said in the podcast titled “Should You Pray to Jesus or God the Father?”

He continued that Christ shows that the will of God was his deepest desire in prayer.

“So, too, are we called in prayer to conform our will to the Father,” he said. “And in teaching us to pray, Jesus reminded us to go into the quiet of our rooms and also taught us the great prayer of Our Father. That immediately teaches us that as his disciples, as we pray, our prayer is to be directed to the Father.”

And there’s more than one way to grow in prayer, he said, such as having gratitude for the beauty of creation.

“I remember when I was in college often times I’d be at the top of a mountain and it’d be a crisp clear day and I’d be getting ready to ski down the mountain,” Archbishop Aquila shared. “And I was just captured by the beauty of creation itself, and I would lift up my heart in gratitude to God for the gift of creation. … Beauty often times puts us in touch with the Lord.”

Reading Scripture and prayerfully considering how God is speaking to a person’s life and heart is key to growing in prayer.

“It’s important prior to that time to pray to the Holy Spirit and really ask the Holy Spirit, ‘Open my heart, help me to listen, grant me a heart that is receptive to your word,” the archbishop explained. “And by doing that and then prayerfully reading the Scripture, we’re more receptive and open to really hear the Lord speaking to us.”

Faithful can also learn to pray by reading the dialogue between Christ and characters in the Gospel.

“Often times we can learn to pray by looking at some of the dialogues of Jesus with others in Gospel. For example, with the apostles, with Peter, with the Samaritan woman,” he said. “It’s a very lengthy dialogue and a very beautiful dialogue and one that gradually leads her to faith. And prayer should always be leading us into a deeper faith, trust and confidence in God.”



Anand Bheemarasetti and his wife, Lindsey, pictured with their children, started the nonprofit Ask a Bishop that features videos, podcasts and social media posts about the faith. Photo provided



      Ask a Bishop


COMING UP: Don’t miss ‘the most important archaeological discovery of the 20th century’

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Don’t miss ‘the most important archaeological discovery of the 20th century’

Denver’s Dead Sea Scrolls exhibition brings to life Judaism at time of Jesus

Vladimir Mauricio-Perez

“Welcome to Israel, the Biblical land of milk and honey at the crossroads of Africa, Europe and Asia… an archaeologist’s paradise”: These words mark the start of a once-in-a-lifetime immersion into ancient Israel that the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibition brings to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science March 16 to Sep. 3.

The exhibition, sponsored by the Archdiocese of Denver, not only displays the authentic Dead Sea Scrolls that have captivated millions of believers and non-believers around the world, but also a timeline back to Biblical times filled with ancient objects that date back to events written about in the Old Testament more than 3,000 years ago.

“We are convinced that the Dead Sea Scrolls discovered in the Judean desert are the most important archaeological discovery of the 20th century,” said Dr. Uzi Dahari, deputy director of the Israel Antiquities. “These scrolls, written in Hebrew, are the oldest copy of the Bible.”

In fact, some of these manuscripts are almost a thousand years older than the oldest copies of the Bible that had been discovered, providing a great wealth of knowledge about Judaism at the time of Jesus.

“So many things have changed [since this discovery],” said Dr. Michael Barber, professor of Scripture and Theology at the Augustine Institute in Denver. “We now understand first-century Judaism in a way we didn’t in the past and see how the Biblical authors are breathing the same air as other ancient Jews.”

An exhibition of the Dead Sea Scrolls at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science will be on display until Sept. 3. (Photos by Andrew Wright | Denver Catholic)

The air of first-century Israel was filled with expectations for the coming of the Messiah. The Dead Sea Scrolls, which have been associated with a unique religious Jewish community that lived a structured life, are a witness to this reality, he explained.

“[These communities] were trying to live in such a way as to prepare for the coming of the Messiah. They looked forward to a new covenant and the restoration of the glory of Adam” Dr. Barber said. “We see so many overlaps of how the New Testament is a fulfillment of the Jewish expectations of the time.”

The exhibition immerses guests into the history of the chosen people of God, from artifacts impressed with seals belonging to Biblical kings, such as Hezekiah, to an authentic stone block that fell from Jerusalem’s Western Wall in 70 AD.

“We preferred to select scientifically important items, some very small, some very large… but all of great significance,” Dr. Dahari said.

“Israel’s archaeological sites and artifacts have yielded extraordinary record of human achievement,” added Dr. Risa Levitt Kohn, curator of the exhibit and professor at San Diego State University. “The pots, coins, weapons, jewelry and other artifacts on display in this exhibition constituted a momentous contribution to our cultural legacy. They teach us about the past, but they also teach us about ourselves.”