Our brother, Pierre Salmon, a priest of the diocese of Saint-Denis-en-France and a member of the Secular Institute of Priests of the Heart of Jesus, offers us this testimony. He shares with us his struggle with prayer. May he be fraternally thanked here.
There was a time when I prayed for an hour, as was recommended to us, in the 1960s. Then I prayed for 3/4 of an hour. The evening before, I would read the Gospel for the following day, keeping it in my mind and heart at night and meditating on it the next morning, at the start of my prayer. I continued this during the annual retreats I attended and especially the 30-day retreat in 1966.and those I preached at the “Groupe Évangile et Mission – GEM“.
A method of prayer
My prayer always began by invoking the Holy Spirit, to whom I asked for the Grace of discernment. I would reread my life in His light to discern the “spirits” that animated me: “The self-reflections, (what do others think of me?); the scathing remarks that hurt the confreres or lay people with whom I live, the selfless services I have rendered. Then, deep down, I would ask for forgiveness, and in the light of the Spirit, I would give thanks to the Lord for his mercy. Then I would offer to the Lord everything I gathered from the people I met at a baptism, wedding or funeral. I didn’t try to check afterwards what they thought of what I’d told them. I learnt to be free. I continued like that for many years.
Holidays: another form of prayer
During my holidays, when I drove for miles to visit friends, I abandoned this form of morning prayer; I prayed in the car for the friends I was going to meet. Friendship and affection filled me and lifted my life.
The prayer of intention
As soon as I returned to my parish responsibilities, I resumed the rhythm of my daily prayer. I would populate my morning prayer with the names of all the people I had met. I would also pray with the intentions entrusted to me: requests for healing, requests to pass exams, requests for reconciliation, etc.
The prayer of petition
Our prayers of petition present God with difficult situations for us and for the world. But I ask myself:do we really need to ask? “The Father himself knows what you need”. By asking, we know that God is interested in our lives. God does not respond by changing the course of things, but he gives us the Spirit of light and love so that we ourselves can act on the course of things in our own measure.
Joining those who suffer with Christ
In the face of the terrible news that falls upon us every day, my prayer tries to join Christ who suffers and weeps with all the victims. I try to keep faith with this God who joins us in the worst but to bring us out of it.
My future is life
Now that I’m at the Marie-Thérèse retirement home, I know that my future is here. This is the last stage of my life. Without looking back, I’m walking towards my future. My future is all these residents: priests and very old lay people, all these physical and psychological handicaps. All the misery! Besides Mass every day and reciting Vespers with a few residents:priests, men, women, nuns, my prayer is all the time. “What does my neighbour need? I’m moving towards that future. Trying to bring a little joy and comfort. I’m not moving towards death, but towards Life.
Pierre Salmon, PCJ
Priest in the diocese of Saint-Denis-en-France