Have you ever wondered, “What can I do to be a better man? How can I become a father who leaves a legacy? What is the secret to becoming the man that God has created me to be?” Often men who have been doing the “Church thing” for years become discouraged because they see little spiritual growth or positive character progress shaping their lives. We can fall into the trap of believing that by going to Sunday Mass, listening to Christian music, being on Church committees, or praying an Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be, that we are fulfilling our Christian duty—and because of this, our life should be more blessed than it is.
Of course, Holy Mass, acts of charity, serving Christ’s Church, and praying are essential to becoming a great man. But why, even after doing all these things, do we struggle to improve spiritually? One of the most fundamental reasons that we stall spiritually is that we succumb to the temptation to focus on the letter of the law while we neglect the spirit of love. We can easily fulfill exterior duties while neglecting the interior soul.
Sometimes we pray but don’t listen. We may pray “God give me this,” or “God grant me that,” but when was the last time we prayed “God give me You?” When we exclusively pray to obtain things, we are, in a sense, fulfilling the letter of the law—yes, we are praying. Yet when we pray to obtain God Himself, we are fulfilling the spirit of the law, since the very purpose of prayer is to be with God.
It’s been said that we have two ears and one mouth, therefore we ought to listen twice as much as we talk. And when in the presence of someone more intelligent and knowledgeable, we definitely should listen more than speak. These statements apply to our relationship with God. Rather than fulfilling the law of prayer by only reciting prayers or requests, we ought to fulfill the love of prayer by listening to God. Archbishop Fulton Sheen said, “Those who would become wise must become silent. A mirror is silent, yet it reflects forests, sunsets, flowers, and faces. Great ascetic souls, given to years of meditation, have taken on a radiance and beauty which are beyond the outlines of the face. They seem to reflect, like the mirror on the outside, the Christ they bear within. Silence alone gives them inner sanctuary in which solitude is born. A place where the soul stands naked before God.”
If you and I desire to reflect the power, goodness, strength, and generosity of the Father, it is imperative that we dedicate ourselves to simply being in the presence of God, waiting on Him to give Himself to us. Ask yourself: When was the last time I spent fifteen minutes with God in silence? Your answer reveals how much you desire and believe in God’s power afforded by prayer.
Prayer is much like being in the sun. If you simply expose yourself to the sun, your skin will eventually tan and those around will know that you’ve spent time in the sun. When we spend time with the Son of God, others cannot help but notice that we are becoming a reflection of His glory. The first mark of a great father is being a man dedicated to remaining in the silence before God with the purpose of reflecting his Fatherhood in our own.