“Prayer is the oxygen of the soul.” ~ St. Padre Pio
I have done many things in my life and have shared most of them with you in these reflections or in my daily blog. One of the things less shared, though, are my years working in the hospital as an orderly. I have many stories to tell about working labor and delivery, the nursery, orthopedics, CVU, ICU, and other places. I worked days and I worked midnight shifts. Many of the midnight shifts were in the Emergency Room.
I have seen many distressing things in the hospital. I have had my share of very joyful moments as well. The moments that always were filled with great tension were those when someone was going into cardiac or respiratory arrest, especially if they were aware of what was happening. Oftentimes, their breathing would become very labored and their color would begin to change. Nailbeds on their hands and feet would begin to get dark. Their skin would become quite pale. Their lips would often turn blueish. Some even turned quite dark as the oxygen left their system because they were not able to breathe deeply or circulate oxygen through their blood.
It was always a life or death battle to be able to restore their breathing and circulation. Without it, we all know what happens. It doesn’t take too many minutes before the brain begins to suffer and only a few minutes more before the brain begins to die. Circulation in order to provide that precious oxygen is always critical. Many of you may have seen that in your family members or friends. It is always difficult to see someone struggling to breathe.
All of that is very obvious because it is all external. When you see someone turning very pale and beginning to change color to a gray/blue, you know that an emergency is at hand. What we don’t see quite as easily, though, is an oxygen-starved soul. Padre Pio tells us, and rightly so, that prayer is the oxygen of the soul. When we pray regularly, our soul has what it needs to keep fixed on the Lord.
When we cheat on our time to pray, our souls begin to suffer. We might find ourselves becoming distracted more in prayer. We might find it harder to do good works. We might not stand up for others as we ought. Those are all symptoms of a soul deprived of prayer.
If it gets too extreme, we might even give up praying. When that happens, we lose our motivation to go to Mass, visit the Blessed Sacrament, and engage in the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. We might even stray off of the path that leads to the Kingdom and, instead, fix on the path that leads to the lures and promises of the world.
A soul that becomes lost is in jeopardy of separating itself from God. If that separation becomes fixed, that soul could be lost forever.
People who become older and are more prone to calcification of the arteries are often told by doctors to take a baby aspirin every day “just in case” in order to keep the blood flowing. As we live each day in the world, surrounded by temptation, our baby aspirin is prayer. Praying regularly keeps that circulation going in our soul. A healthy soul is a happy soul. A happy soul shares the love of God with others. Be a happy soul today. Start by praying.
Prayer is the oxygen of the soul. As Mr. Miyagi told Daniel-san in The Karate Kid, “Don’t forget to breathe.”
FAITH ACTION: Of the many things on your to-do list for today, make sure that time for prayer is at the top.