The Prayerful Mystic; or the Non-Stop Worker

Fr. Al Schwartz


Few could pin Fr. Al down. At the tortuous moments just prior to his death from Lou Gehrig’s Disease, he belted out whispered commands to those at his bedside: Please remind the Sisters that they must pray three hours every day.

In the same breath he was reminding the Sisters that their vocation was to be Martha-like; they were servers, not like Mary at the foot of Jesus.

So who were they supposed to be?

Here was the trick to his and their sanctity: Fr. Al knew that without steadfast prayer his and the Sisters work for the poor would be hollowed out and insincere. The fruit of everything he and Sisters of Mary accomplished, had to come from devoted and steadfast prayer. The fruit of anything lasting, Fr. Al continually said, simply had to come from meeting God in prayer. 


Fr. Al’s favorite prayers were the Sacrifice of the Mass, the Daily Office and the Rosary. He would live a day of his priesthood without committing to the rituals. They were the vehicles that sanctified his work, soul, and entire priesthood.

Prayer, he told everyone, was the lifeblood of his work. 

“First and foremost, to put on the Lord Jesus Christ, to be like Christ, and to imitate Him, we must learn how to pray,” he once told the Sisters of Mary in a homily. “If you wish to be like a bird, the first thing you must do is to learn how to fly. If you wish to resemble a fish, the first thing you must do is learn how to swim. If you wish to be like Jesus, the first thing you must do is learn how to pray.”

In this week’s One 2 One Podcast – Week Five of the Lenten Journey – Fr. Dan and Kevin discuss the importance prayer has for priests and laity to live out holy vocations.