26 February, Saturday — Prayers from the Burning Heart

Saturday of Week 7 in Ordinary Time

Jas 5:13-20
Mk 10:13-16

Let my prayer come before you like incense, O Lord.

One of the things that I feel very blessed being a Catholic is that we can always pray with our senses. With our sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell, our prayers become more experiential.

At Mass, I must admit that there are many times that my mind wanders. But when I see the priest and the sacristan using the incense, my eyes get drawn to it. I remember reading somewhere that the incense is supposed to give us a visual of our prayers rising up to God. And when I see the incense going up, somehow my mind comes back to Mass and I can pray again.

Another thought that comes to mind is that whenever I close my eyes in prayer, the smell of the incense reminds me that I am surrounded and supported by prayers from my brothers and sisters in Christ. I may not see them, but smelling them reminds me that even though I don’t see those prayers, they are around me.

And although I can’t see it, I know that you’ll need fire to start off the incense. Where there is smoke, there is fire. When I look at the container of incense, I imagine it containing incense looking like the charcoal used for a barbeque, with fire embers that bring warmth and with soothing brightness when you look at them. Then, I imagine that it is like a heart in prayer.

Just like burning incense, are our hearts aflame with love whenever we pray? If there is no flame, the incense won’t burn, and there will be no smoke that will rise up to heaven.

Just like the incense, are our prayers for others fragrant with charity such that when others smell our prayers for them, they are assured?

Just like the incense, do we feel that our prayers bring us higher and closer to God? Or do our prayers only bring us to ourselves?

I hope that the next time we are at Mass, the sight and smell of incense will help us focus in prayer.

And let us remember that all these are possible only when the incense is lit with fire.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Stephanie Villa)

Prayer: Dear Lord, teach me how to pray with my heart aflame so that my prayers can rise to you, and can assure others. 

Thanksgiving: Thank you, Lord, for giving us all these physical means to experience our prayer.  

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