Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 2697-2704, 2720-2722 – The Life of Prayer

clock September 5, 2013 01:02 by author John |

Today’s Catechism sections discuss the life of prayer, particularly vocal prayer. Supporting material comes from “The Way of Perfection” by St. Teresa of Avila.

CHAPTER THREE

THE LIFE OF PRAYER

2697 Prayer is the life of the new heart. It ought to animate us at every moment. But we tend to forget him who is our life and our all. This is why the Fathers of the spiritual life in the Deuteronomic and prophetic traditions insist that prayer is a remembrance of God often awakened by the memory of the heart "We must remember God more often than we draw breath."1 But we cannot pray "at all times" if we do not pray at specific times, consciously willing it. These are the special times of Christian prayer, both in intensity and duration.

2698 The Tradition of the Church proposes to the faithful certain rhythms of praying intended to nourish continual prayer. Some are daily, such as morning and evening prayer, grace before and after meals, the Liturgy of the Hours. Sundays, centered on the Eucharist, are kept holy primarily by prayer. The cycle of the liturgical year and its great feasts are also basic rhythms of the Christian's life of prayer.

2699 The Lord leads all persons by paths and in ways pleasing to him, and each believer responds according to his heart's resolve and the personal expressions of his prayer. However, Christian Tradition has retained three major expressions of prayer: vocal, meditative, and contemplative. They have one basic trait in common: composure of heart. This vigilance in keeping the Word and dwelling in the presence of God makes these three expressions intense times in the life of prayer.

Article 1

EXPRESSIONS OF PRAYER

I. Vocal prayer

2700 Through his Word, God speaks to man. By words, mental or vocal, our prayer takes flesh. Yet it is most important that the heart should be present to him to whom we are speaking in prayer: "Whether or not our prayer is heard depends not on the number of words, but on the fervor of our souls."2

2701 Vocal prayer is an essential element of the Christian life. To his disciples, drawn by their Master's silent prayer, Jesus teaches a vocal prayer, the Our Father. He not only prayed aloud the liturgical prayers of the synagogue but, as the Gospels show, he raised his voice to express his personal prayer, from exultant blessing of the Father to the agony of Gesthemani.3

2702 The need to involve the senses in interior prayer corresponds to a requirement of our human nature. We are body and spirit, and we experience the need to translate our feelings externally. We must pray with our whole being to give all power possible to our supplication.

2703 This need also corresponds to a divine requirement. God seeks worshippers in Spirit and in Truth, and consequently living prayer that rises from the depths of the soul. He also wants the external expression that associates the body with interior prayer, for it renders him that perfect homage which is his due.

2704 Because it is external and so thoroughly human, vocal prayer is the form of prayer most readily accessible to groups. Even interior prayer, however, cannot neglect vocal prayer. Prayer is internalized to the extent that we become aware of him "to whom we speak;"4 Thus vocal prayer becomes an initial form of contemplative prayer.

IN BRIEF

2720 The Church invites the faithful to regular prayer: daily prayers, the Liturgy of the Hours, Sunday Eucharist, the feasts of the liturgical year.

2721 The Christian tradition comprises three major expressions of the life of prayer: vocal prayer, meditation, and contemplative prayer. They have in common the recollection of the heart.

2722 Vocal prayer, founded on the union of body and soul in human nature, associates the body with the interior prayer of the heart, following Christ's example of praying to his Father and teaching the Our Father to his disciples.

In “The Way of Perfection” (26), St. Teresa of Avila discusses the importance of verbal prayer.

Let us now return to our vocal prayer, so that we may learn to pray in such a way that, without our understanding how, God may give us everything at once: if we do this, as I have said, we shall pray as we ought. As you know, the first things must be examination of conscience, confession of sin and the signing of yourself with the Cross. Then, daughter, as you are alone, you must look for a companion -- and who could be a better Companion than the very Master Who taught you the prayer that you are about to say? Imagine that this Lord Himself is at your side and see how lovingly and how humbly He is teaching you -- and, believe me, you should stay with so good a Friend for as long as you can before you leave Him. If you become accustomed to having Him at your side, and if He sees that you love Him to be there and are always trying to please Him, you will never be able, as we put it, to send Him away, nor will He ever fail you. He will help you in all your trials and you will have Him everywhere. Do you think it is a small thing to have such a Friend as that beside you?

Footnotes

1 St. Gregory of Nazianzus, Orat. theo., 27, 1, 4: PG 36, 16.
2 St. John Chrysostom, Ecloga de oratione 2: PG 63, 585.
3 Cf. ⇒ Mt 11:25-26; ⇒ Mk 14:36.
4 St. Teresa of Jesus, the Way of Perfection 26, 9 in the Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila, tr. K. Kavanaugh, OCD, and O. Rodriguez, OCD (Washington DC: Institute of Carmelite Studies, 1980), II, 136.



Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 2683-2696 – Guides for Prayer

clock September 4, 2013 01:02 by author John |

Today’s Catechism sections discuss the guides for prayer. Supporting material comes from Pope John Paul II’s “Letter to Families”.

Article 3

GUIDES FOR PRAYER

A cloud of witnesses

2683 The witnesses who have preceded us into the kingdom,41 especially those whom the Church recognizes as saints, share in the living tradition of prayer by the example of their lives, the transmission of their writings, and their prayer today. They contemplate God, praise him and constantly care for those whom they have left on earth. When they entered into the joy of their Master, they were "put in charge of many things."42 Their intercession is their most exalted service to God's plan. We can and should ask them to intercede for us and for the whole world.

2684 In the communion of saints, many and varied spiritualities have been developed throughout the history of the churches. The personal charism of some witnesses to God's love for men has been handed on, like "the spirit" of Elijah to Elisha and John the Baptist, so that their followers may have a share in this spirit.43 A distinct spirituality can also arise at the point of convergence of liturgical and theological currents, bearing witness to the integration of the faith into a particular human environment and its history. The different schools of Christian spirituality share in the living tradition of prayer and are essential guides for the faithful. In their rich diversity they are refractions of the one pure light of the Holy Spirit.

The Spirit is truly the dwelling of the saints and the saints are for the Spirit a place where he dwells as in his own home since they offer themselves as a dwelling place for God and are called his temple.44

Servants of prayer

2685 The Christian family is the first place of education in prayer. Based on the sacrament of marriage, the family is the "domestic church" where God's children learn to pray "as the Church" and to persevere in prayer. For young children in particular, daily family prayer is the first witness of the Church's living memory as awakened patiently by the Holy Spirit.

2686 Ordained ministers are also responsible for the formation in prayer of their brothers and sisters in Christ. Servants of the Good Shepherd, they are ordained to lead the People of God to the living waters of prayer: the Word of God, the liturgy, the theological life (the life of faith, hope, and charity), and the Today of God in concrete situations.45

2687 Many religious have consecrated their whole lives to prayer. Hermits, monks, and nuns since the time of the desert fathers have devoted their time to praising God and interceding for his people. The consecrated life cannot be sustained or spread without prayer; it is one of the living sources of contemplation and the spiritual life of the Church.

2688 The catechesis of children, young people, and adults aims at teaching them to meditate on the Word of God in personal prayer, practicing it in liturgical prayer, and internalizing it at all times in order to bear fruit in a new life. Catechesis is also a time for the discernment and education of popular piety.46 The memorization of basic prayers offers an essential support to the life of prayer, but it is important to help learners savor their meaning.

2689 Prayer groups, indeed "schools of prayer," are today one of the signs and one of the driving forces of renewal of prayer in the Church, provided they drink from authentic wellsprings of Christian prayer. Concern for ecclesial communion is a sign of true prayer in the Church.

2690 The Holy Spirit gives to certain of the faithful the gifts of wisdom, faith and discernment for the sake of this common good which is prayer (spiritual direction). Men and women so endowed are true servants of the living tradition of prayer.

According to St. John of the Cross, the person wishing to advance toward perfection should "take care into whose hands he entrusts himself, for as the master is, so will the disciple be, and as the father is so will be the son." and further: "In addition to being learned and discreet a director should be experienced.... If the spiritual director has no experience of the spiritual life, he will be incapable of leading into it the souls whom God is calling to it, and he will not even understand them."47

Places favorable for prayer

2691 The church, the house of God, is the proper place for the liturgical prayer of the parish community. It is also the privileged place for adoration of the real presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. The choice of a favorable place is not a matter of indifference for true prayer.
- For personal prayer, this can be a "prayer corner" with the Sacred Scriptures and icons, in order to be there, in secret, before our Father.48 In a Christian family, this kind of little oratory fosters prayer in common.
- In regions where monasteries exist, the vocation of these communities is to further the participation of the faithful in the Liturgy of the Hours and to provide necessary solitude for more intense personal prayer.49
- Pilgrimages evoke our earthly journey toward heaven and are traditionally very special occasions for renewal in prayer. For pilgrims seeking living water, shrines are special places for living the forms of Christian prayer "in Church."

IN BRIEF

2692 In prayer, the pilgrim Church is associated with that of the saints, whose intercession she asks.

2693 The different schools of Christian spirituality share in the living tradition of prayer and are precious guides for the spiritual life.

2694 The Christian family is the first place for education in prayer.

2695 Ordained ministers, the consecrated life, catechesis, prayer groups, and "spiritual direction" ensure assistance within the Church in the practice of prayer.

2696 The most appropriate places for prayer are personal or family oratories, monasteries, places of pilgrimage, and above all the church, which is the proper place for liturgical prayer for the parish community and the privileged place for Eucharistic adoration.

In his 1994 “Letter to Families”, Pope John Paul II discusses prayer in the “domestic church”.

Prayer

4. In this Letter I wish to speak not to families "in the abstract" but to every particular family in every part of the world, wherever it is located and whatever the diversity and complexity of its culture and history. The love with which God "loved the world" (Jn 3:16), the love with which Christ loved each and every one "to the end" (Jn 13:1), makes it possible to address this message to each family, as a living "cell" of the great and universal "family" of mankind. The Father, Creator of the Universe, and the Word Incarnate, the Redeemer of humanity, are the source of this universal openness to all people as brothers and sisters, and they impel us to embrace them in the prayer which begins with the tender words: "Our Father".

Prayer makes the Son of God present among us: "For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them" (Mt 18:20). This Letter to Families wishes in the first place to be a prayer to Christ to remain in every human family; an invitation to him, in and through the small family of parents and children, to dwell in the great family of nations, so that together with him all of us can truly say: "Our Father"! Prayer must become the dominant element of the Year of the Family in the Church: prayer by the family, prayer for the family, and prayer with the family.

It is significant that precisely in and through prayer, man comes to discover in a very simple and yet profound way his own unique subjectivity: in prayer the human "I" more easily perceives the depth of what it means to be a person. This is also true of the family, which is not only the basic "cell" of society, but also possesses a particular subjectivity of its own. This subjectivity finds its first and fundamental confirmation, and is strengthened, precisely when the members of the family meet in the common invocation: "Our Father". Prayer increases the strength and spiritual unity of the family, helping the family to partake of God's own "strength". In the solemn nuptial blessing during the Rite of Marriage, the celebrant calls upon the Lord in these words: "Pour out upon them 1 the grace of the Holy Spirit so that by your love poured into their hearts they will remain faithful in the marriage covenant". This "visitation" of the Holy Spirit gives rise to the inner strength of families, as well as the power capable of uniting them in love and truth.

Footnotes

41 Cf. ⇒ Heb 12:1.
42 Cf. ⇒ Mt 25:21.
43 Cf. ⇒ 2 Kings 2:9; ⇒ Lk 1:1; PC 2.
44 St. Basil, De Spiritu Sancto, 26, 62: PG 32, 184.
45 Cf. PO 4-6.
46 Cf. CT 54.
47 St. John of the Cross, the Living Flame of Love, stanza 3, 30, in The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross, eds K. Kavanaugh OCD and O. Rodriguez OCD (Washington DC: Institute of Carmelite Studies, 1979), 621.
48 Cf. ⇒ Mt 6:6[ETML:C/].
49 Cf. PC 7.



Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 2670-2672, 2681 – Prayer to the Holy Spirit

clock September 2, 2013 01:02 by author John |

Today’s Catechism sections discuss prayer to the Holy Spirit. Supporting material comes from the “Orations” of St. Gregory Nazianzen.

"Come, Holy Spirit"

2670 "No one can say 'Jesus is Lord' except by the Holy Spirit."21 Every time we begin to pray to Jesus it is the Holy Spirit who draws us on the way of prayer by his prevenient grace. Since he teaches us to pray by recalling Christ, how could we not pray to the Spirit too? That is why the Church invites us to call upon the Holy Spirit every day, especially at the beginning and the end of every important action.

If the Spirit should not be worshiped, how can he divinize me through Baptism? If he should be worshiped, should he not be the object of adoration?22

2671 The traditional form of petition to the Holy Spirit is to invoke the Father through Christ our Lord to give us the Consoler Spirit.23 Jesus insists on this petition to be made in his name at the very moment when he promises the gift of the Spirit of Truth.24 But the simplest and most direct prayer is also traditional, "Come, Holy Spirit," and every liturgical tradition has developed it in antiphons and hymns.

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and enkindle in them the fire of your love.25
Heavenly King, Consoler Spirit, Spirit of Truth, present everywhere and filling all things, treasure of all good and source of all life, come dwell in us, cleanse and save us, you who are All Good.26

2672 The Holy Spirit, whose anointing permeates our whole being, is the interior Master of Christian prayer. He is the artisan of the living tradition of prayer. To be sure, there are as many paths of prayer as there are persons who pray, but it is the same Spirit acting in all and with all. It is in the communion of the Holy Spirit that Christian prayer is prayer in the Church.

IN BRIEF

2681 "No one can say 'Jesus is Lord', except by the Holy Spirit" (⇒ 1 Cor 12:3). The Church invites us to invoke the Holy Spirit as the interior Teacher of Christian prayer.

St. Gregory Nazianzen discusses the worship of the Holy Spirit in “Oration 31” (28).

XXVIII. This, then, is my position with regard to these things, and I hope it may be always my position, and that of whosoever is dear to me; to worship God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, Three Persons, One Godhead, undivided in honour and glory and substance and kingdom, as one of our own inspired philosophers not long departed showed. Let him not see the rising of the Morning Star, as Scripture says, nor the glory of its brightness, who is otherwise minded, or who follows the temper of the times, at one time being of one mind and of another at another time, and thinking unsoundly in the highest matters. For if He is not to be worshipped, how can He deify me by Baptism? But if He is to be worshipped, surely He is an Object of adoration, and if an Object of adoration He must be God; the one is linked to the other, a truly golden and saving chain. And indeed from the Spirit comes our New Birth, and from the New Birth our new creation, and from the new creation our deeper knowledge of the dignity of Him from Whom it is derived.

Footnotes

21 ⇒ 1 Cor 12:3.
22 St. Gregory of Nazianzus, Oratio, 31, 28: PG 36, 165.
23 Cf. ⇒ Lk 11:13.
24 Cf. ⇒ Jn 14:17; ⇒ 15:26; ⇒ 16:13.
25 Roman Missal, Pentecost Sequence.
26 Byzantine Liturgy, Pentecost Vespers, Troparion.



Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 2673-2679, 2682 – Prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary

clock September 2, 2013 01:02 by author John |

Today’s Catechism sections discuss prayer to Mary. Supporting material comes from the Dogmatic Constitution, “Lumen Gentium”.

In communion with the holy Mother of God

2673 In prayer the Holy Spirit unites us to the person of the only Son, in his glorified humanity, through which and in which our filial prayer unites us in the Church with the Mother of Jesus.27

2674 Mary gave her consent in faith at the Annunciation and maintained it without hesitation at the foot of the Cross. Ever since, her motherhood has extended to the brothers and sisters of her Son "who still journey on earth surrounded by dangers and difficulties."28 Jesus, the only mediator, is the way of our prayer; Mary, his mother and ours, is wholly transparent to him: she "shows the way" (hodigitria), and is herself "the Sign" of the way, according to the traditional iconography of East and West.

2675 Beginning with Mary's unique cooperation with the working of the Holy Spirit, the Churches developed their prayer to the holy Mother of God, centering it on the person of Christ manifested in his mysteries. In countless hymns and antiphons expressing this prayer, two movements usually alternate with one another: the first "magnifies" the Lord for the "great things" he did for his lowly servant and through her for all human beings29 The second entrusts the supplications and praises of the children of God to the Mother of Jesus, because she now knows the humanity which, in her, the Son of God espoused.

2676 This twofold movement of prayer to Mary has found a privileged expression in the Ave Maria:
Hail Mary [or Rejoice, Mary]: the greeting of the angel Gabriel opens this prayer. It is God himself who, through his angel as intermediary, greets Mary. Our prayer dares to take up this greeting to Mary with the regard God had for the lowliness of his humble servant and to exult in the joy he finds in her.30
Full of grace, the Lord is with thee: These two phrases of the angel's greeting shed light on one another. Mary is full of grace because the Lord is with her. The grace with which she is filled is the presence of him who is the source of all grace. "Rejoice . . . O Daughter of Jerusalem . . . The Lord your God is in your midst."31 Mary, in whom the Lord himself has just made his dwelling, is the daughter of Zion in person, the Ark of the Covenant, the place where the glory of the Lord dwells. She is "the dwelling of God . . . with men."32 Full of grace, Mary is wholly given over to him who has come to dwell in her and whom she is about to give to the world.
Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. After the angel's greeting, we make Elizabeth's greeting our own. "Filled with the Holy Spirit," Elizabeth is the first in the long succession of generations who have called Mary "blessed."33 "Blessed is she who believed...."34 Mary is "blessed among women" because she believed in the fulfillment of the Lord's word. Abraham. Because of his faith, became a blessing for all the nations of the earth.35 Mary, because of her faith, became the mother of believers, through whom all nations of the earth receive him who is God's own blessing: Jesus, the "fruit of thy womb."

2677 Holy Mary, Mother of God: With Elizabeth we marvel, "and why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?"36 Because she gives us Jesus, her son, Mary is Mother of God and our mother; we can entrust all our cares and petitions to her: she prays for us as she prayed for herself: "Let it be to me according to your word."37 By entrusting ourselves to her prayer, we abandon ourselves to the will of God together with her: "Thy will be done."
Pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death: By asking Mary to pray for us, we acknowledge ourselves to be poor sinners and we address ourselves to the "Mother of Mercy," the All-Holy One. We give ourselves over to her now, in the Today of our lives. And our trust broadens further, already at the present moment, to surrender "the hour of our death" wholly to her care. May she be there as she was at her son's death on the cross. May she welcome us as our mother at the hour of our passing38 to lead us to her son, Jesus, in paradise.

2678 Medieval piety in the West developed the prayer of the rosary as a popular substitute for the Liturgy of the Hours. In the East, the litany called the Akathistos and the Paraclesis remained closer to the choral office in the Byzantine churches, while the Armenian, Coptic, and Syriac traditions preferred popular hymns and songs to the Mother of God. But in the Ave Maria, the theotokia, the hymns of St. Ephrem or St. Gregory of Narek, the tradition of prayer is basically the same.

2679 Mary is the perfect Orans (prayer), a figure of the Church. When we pray to her, we are adhering with her to the plan of the Father, who sends his Son to save all men. Like the beloved disciple we welcome Jesus' mother into our homes,39 for she has become the mother of all the living. We can pray with and to her. The prayer of the Church is sustained by the prayer of Mary and united with it in hope.40

IN BRIEF

2682 Because of Mary's singular cooperation with the action of the Holy Spirit, the Church loves to pray in communion with the Virgin Mary, to magnify with her the great things the Lord has done for her, and to entrust supplications and praises to her.

The Dogmatic Constitution, “Lumen Gentium” discusses prayer to Mary.

V. Mary the sign of created hope and solace to the wandering people of God

68. In the interim just as the Mother of Jesus, glorified in body and soul in heaven, is the image and beginning of the Church as it is to be perfected is the world to come, so too does she shine forth on earth, until the day of the Lord shall come,(304) as a sign of sure hope and solace to the people of God during its sojourn on earth.

69. It gives great joy and comfort to this holy and general Synod that even among the separated brethren there are some who give due honor to the Mother of our Lord and Saviour, especially among the Orientals, who with devout mind and fervent impulse give honor to the Mother of God, ever virgin.(24*) The entire body of the faithful pours forth instant supplications to the Mother of God and Mother of men that she, who aided the beginnings of the Church by her prayers, may now, exalted as she is above all the angels and saints, intercede before her Son in the fellowship of all the saints, until all families of people, whether they are honored with the title of Christian or whether they still do not know the Saviour, may be happily gathered together in peace and harmony into one people of God, for the glory of the Most Holy and Undivided Trinity.

Footnotes

27 Cf. ⇒ Acts 1:14.
28 LG 62.
29 Cf. ⇒ Lk 1:46-55.
30 Cf. ⇒ Lk 1:48; ⇒ Zeph 3:17b.
31 ⇒ Zeph 3:14, ⇒ 17a.
32 ⇒ Rev 21:3.
33 ⇒ Lk 1:41, ⇒ 48.
34 ⇒ Lk 1:45.
35 Cf. ⇒ Gen 12:3.
36 ⇒ Lk 1:43.
37 ⇒ Lk 1:38.
38 Cf. ⇒ Jn 19:27.
39 Cf. ⇒ Jn 19:27.
40 Cf. LG 68-69.



Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 2663-2669, 2680 – Prayer to the Father and the Son

clock September 1, 2013 01:02 by author John |

Today’s Catechism sections discuss prayer to God the Father and His Son, Jesus. Supporting material comes from St. Alphonsus Liguori’s “Discourse on the Name of Jesus”.

Article 2

THE WAY OF PRAYER

2663 In the living tradition of prayer, each Church proposes to its faithful, according to its historic, social, and cultural context, a language for prayer: words, melodies, gestures, iconography. The Magisterium of the Church15 has the task of discerning the fidelity of these ways of praying to the tradition of apostolic faith; it is for pastors and catechists to explain their meaning, always in relation to Jesus Christ.

Prayer to the Father

2664 There is no other way of Christian prayer than Christ. Whether our prayer is communal or personal, vocal or interior, it has access to the Father only if we pray "in the name" of Jesus. The sacred humanity of Jesus is therefore the way by which the Holy Spirit teaches us to pray to God our Father.

Prayer to Jesus

2665 The prayer of the Church, nourished by the Word of God and the celebration of the liturgy, teaches us to pray to the Lord Jesus. Even though her prayer is addressed above all to the Father, it includes in all the liturgical traditions forms of prayer addressed to Christ. Certain psalms, given their use in the Prayer of the Church, and the New Testament place on our lips and engrave in our hearts prayer to Christ in the form of invocations: Son of God, Word of God, Lord, Savior, Lamb of God, King, Beloved Son, Son of the Virgin, Good Shepherd, our Life, our Light, our Hope, our Resurrection, Friend of mankind....

2666 But the one name that contains everything is the one that the Son of God received in his incarnation: JESUS. The divine name may not be spoken by human lips, but by assuming our humanity the Word of God hands it over to us and we can invoke it: "Jesus," "YHWH saves."16 The name "Jesus" contains all: God and man and the whole economy of creation and salvation. To pray "Jesus" is to invoke him and to call him within us. His name is the only one that contains the presence it signifies. Jesus is the Risen One, and whoever invokes the name of Jesus is welcoming the Son of God who loved him and who gave himself up for him.17

2667 This simple invocation of faith developed in the tradition of prayer under many forms in East and West. The most usual formulation, transmitted by the spiritual writers of the Sinai, Syria, and Mt. Athos, is the invocation, "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us sinners." It combines the Christological hymn of Philippians 2:6-11 with the cry of the publican and the blind men begging for light.18 By it the heart is opened to human wretchedness and the Savior's mercy.

2668 The invocation of the holy name of Jesus is the simplest way of praying always. When the holy name is repeated often by a humbly attentive heart, the prayer is not lost by heaping up empty phrases,19 but holds fast to the word and "brings forth fruit with patience."20 This prayer is possible "at all times" because it is not one occupation among others but the only occupation: that of loving God, which animates and transfigures every action in Christ Jesus.

2669 The prayer of the Church venerates and honors the Heart of Jesus just as it invokes his most holy name. It adores the incarnate Word and his Heart which, out of love for men, he allowed to be pierced by our sins. Christian prayer loves to follow the way of the cross in the Savior's steps. The stations from the Praetorium to Golgotha and the tomb trace the way of Jesus, who by his holy Cross has redeemed the world.

IN BRIEF

2680 Prayer is primarily addressed to the Father; it can also be directed toward Jesus, particularly by the invocation of his holy name: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us sinners."

The following comes from St. Alphonsus Liguori’s “Discourse on the Name of Jesus”.

In the first place, the name of Jesus consoles us; for when we invoke Jesus, we find relief in all our afflictions. When we have recourse to Jesus, He wishes to console us, because He loves us; and He can do so, because He is not only man, but He is also the Omnipotent God; otherwise He could not properly have this great name of Saviour. The name of Jesus signifies that the bearer of it is of an infinite power, infinite wisdom, and infinite love; so that if Jesus Christ had not united in Himself all these perfections, He could not have saved us: "If anyone of these," says St. Bernard, "had been wanting, Thou couldst not call Thyself Saviour." [6] Thus, when speaking of the circumcision, the Saint says: "He was circumcised as being the Son of Abraham, He was called Jesus as being the Son of God." [7] He is branded as man with the mark of sin, having taken upon Himself the burden of atoning for sinners; and from His very infancy He began, to satisfy for their crimes, by suffering and shedding His Blood; but He is called Jesus, He is called the Saviour, inasmuch as He is the Son of God, because to God alone does the office of salvation belong.

The name of Jesus is said by the Holy Spirit to be like oil poured out: Thy name is as oil poured out. [8] And so indeed it is, says St. Bernard; for as oil serves for light, for food, and for medicine, so especially the name of Jesus is light: "it is a light when preached." And how was it, says the Saint, that the light of faith shone forth so suddenly in the world so that in a short time so many Gentile nations knew the true God, and became His followers, if it was not through hearing the name of Jesus preached? "Whence, think you, shone forth in the whole world, so bright and so sudden, the light of faith, except from the preaching of the name of Jesus?"

Footnotes

15 Cf. DV 10.
16 Cf. Ex 3:14; 33: 19-23; ⇒ Mt 1:21.
17 ⇒ Rom 10:13; ⇒ Acts 2:21; ⇒ 3:15-16; ⇒ Gal 2:20.
18 Cf. ⇒ Mk 10:46-52; ⇒ Lk 18:13.
19 Cf. ⇒ Mt 6:7[ETML:C/].
20 Cf. ⇒ Lk 8:15.



Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 2656-2660, 2662 –The Theological Virtues and Prayer

clock August 31, 2013 01:02 by author John |

Today’s Catechism sections discuss the theological virtues as they pertain to prayer. Supporting material comes from the “Summa Theologica”.

The theological virtues

2656 One enters into prayer as one enters into liturgy: by the narrow gate of faith. Through the signs of his presence, it is the Face of the Lord that we seek and desire; it is his Word that we want to hear and keep.

2657 The Holy Spirit, who instructs us to celebrate the liturgy in expectation of Christ's return, teaches us - to pray in hope. Conversely, the prayer of the Church and personal prayer nourish hope in us. The psalms especially, with their concrete and varied language, teach us to fix our hope in God: "I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry."8 As St. Paul prayed: "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope."9

2658 "Hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit who has been given to us."10 Prayer, formed by the liturgical life, draws everything into the love by which we are loved in Christ and which enables us to respond to him by loving as he has loved us. Love is the source of prayer; whoever draws from it reaches the summit of prayer. In the words of the Cure of Ars:

I love you, O my God, and my only desire is to love you until the last breath of my life. I love you, O my infinitely lovable God, and I would rather die loving you, than live without loving you. I love you, Lord, and the only grace I ask is to love you eternally.... My God, if my tongue cannot say in every moment that I love you, I want my heart to repeat it to you as often as I draw breath.11

"Today"

2659 We learn to pray at certain moments by hearing the Word of the Lord and sharing in his Paschal mystery, but his Spirit is offered us at all times, in the events of each day, to make prayer spring up from us. Jesus' teaching about praying to our Father is in the same vein as his teaching about providence:12 time is in the Father's hands; it is in the present that we encounter him, not yesterday nor tomorrow, but today: "O that today you would hearken to his voice! Harden not your hearts."13

2660 Prayer in the events of each day and each moment is one of the secrets of the kingdom revealed to "little children," to the servants of Christ, to the poor of the Beatitudes. It is right and good to pray so that the coming of the kingdom of justice and peace may influence the march of history, but it is just as important to bring the help of prayer into humble, everyday situations; all forms of prayer can be the leaven to which the Lord compares the kingdom.14

IN BRIEF

2662 The Word of God, the liturgy of the Church, and the virtues of faith, hope, and charity are sources of prayer.

In the “Summa Theologica”, (Secunda Secundæ Partis, 83, 3), St. Thomas Aquinas discusses prayer.

Article 3. Whether prayer is an act of religion?

Objection 1. It would seem that prayer is not an act of religion. Since religion is a part of justice, it resides in the will as in its subject.

But prayer belongs to the intellective part, as stated above (Article 1). Therefore prayer seems to be an act, not of religion, but of the gift of understanding whereby the mind ascends to God.

Objection 2. Further, the act of "latria" falls under a necessity of precept.

But prayer does not seem to come under a necessity of precept, but to come from the mere will, since it is nothing else than a petition for what we will. Therefore prayer seemingly is not an act of religion.

Objection 3. Further, it seems to belong to religion that one "offers worship end ceremonial rites to the Godhead" [Cicero, Rhet. ii, 53. But prayer seems not to offer anything to God, but to. ask to obtain something from Him. Therefore prayer is not an act of religion.

On the contrary, It is written (Psalm 140:2): "Let my prayer be directed as incense in Thy sight": and a gloss on the passage says that "it was to signify this that under the old Law incense was said to be offered for a sweet smell to the Lord." Now this belongs to religion. Therefore prayer is an act of religion.

I answer that, As stated above (81, 2,4), it belongs properly to religion to show honor to God, wherefore all those things through which reverence is shown to God, belong to religion. Now man shows reverence to God by means of prayer, in so far as he subjects himself to Him, and by praying confesses that he needs Him as the Author of his goods. Hence it is evident that prayer is properly an act of religion.

Reply to Objection 1. The will moves the other powers of the soul to its end, as stated above (82, 1, ad 1), and therefore religion, which is in the will, directs the acts of the other powers to the reverence of God. Now among the other powers of the soul the intellect is the highest, and the nearest to the will; and consequently after devotion which belongs to the will, prayer which belongs to the intellective part is the chief of the acts of religion, since by it religion directs man's intellect to God.

Reply to Objection 2. It is a matter of precept not only that we should ask for what we desire, but also that we should desire aright. But to desire comes under a precept of charity, whereas to ask comes under a precept of religion, which precept is expressed in Matthew 7:7, where it is said: "Ask and ye shall receive" [Vulgate: 'Ask and it shall be given you.'].

Reply to Objection 3. By praying man surrenders his mind to God, since he subjects it to Him with reverence and, so to speak, presents it to Him, as appears from the words of Dionysius quoted above (1, Objection 1). Wherefore just as the human mind excels exterior things, whether bodily members, or those external things that are employed for God's service, so too, prayer surpasses other acts of religion.

Footnotes

8 ⇒ Ps 40:2.
9 ⇒ Rom 15:13.
10 ⇒ Rom 5:5.
11 St. John Vianney, Prayer.
12 Cf. ⇒ Mt 6:11, ⇒ 34.
13 ⇒ Ps 95:7-8.
14 Cf. ⇒ Lk 13:20-21.



Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 2650-2655, 2661 – The Tradition of Prayer

clock August 30, 2013 01:02 by author John |

Today’s Catechism sections discuss the tradition of prayer. Supporting material comes from the Dogmatic Constitution, “Dei Verbum”.

CHAPTER TWO

THE TRADITION OF PRAYER

2650 Prayer cannot be reduced to the spontaneous outpouring of interior impulse: in order to pray, one must have the will to pray. Nor is it enough to know what the Scriptures reveal about prayer: one must also learn how to pray. Through a living transmission (Sacred Tradition) within "the believing and praying Church,"1 The Holy Spirit teaches the children of God how to pray.

2651 The tradition of Christian prayer is one of the ways in which the tradition of faith takes shape and grows, especially through the contemplation and study of believers who treasure in their hearts the events and words of the economy of salvation, and through their profound grasp of the spiritual realities they experience.2

Article 1

AT THE WELLSPRINGS OF PRAYER

2652 The Holy Spirit is the living water "welling up to eternal life"3 in the heart that prays. It is he who teaches us to accept it at its source: Christ. Indeed in the Christian life there are several wellsprings where Christ awaits us to enable us to drink of the Holy Spirit.

The Word of God

2653 The Church "forcefully and specially exhorts all the Christian faithful . . . to learn 'the surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ' (⇒ Phil 3:8) by frequent reading of the divine Scriptures.... Let them remember, however, that prayer should accompany the reading of Sacred Scripture, so that a dialogue takes place between God and man. For 'we speak to him when we pray; we listen to him when we read the divine oracles."'4

2654 The spiritual writers, paraphrasing Matthew 7:7, summarize in this way the dispositions of the heart nourished by the word of God in prayer "Seek in reading and you will find in meditating; knock in mental prayer and it will be opened to you by contemplation."5

The Liturgy of the Church

2655 In the sacramental liturgy of the Church, the mission of Christ and of the Holy Spirit proclaims, makes present, and communicates the mystery of salvation, which is continued in the heart that prays. The spiritual writers sometimes compare the heart to an altar. Prayer internalizes and assimilates the liturgy during and after its celebration. Even when it is lived out "in secret,"6 prayer is always prayer of the Church; it is a communion with the Holy Trinity.7

IN BRIEF

2661 By a living transmission -Tradition - the Holy Spirit in the Church teaches the children of God to pray.

The Dogmatic Constitution, “Dei Verbum” (25) discusses the word of God found in the scriptures.

25. Therefore, all the clergy must hold fast to the Sacred Scriptures through diligent sacred reading and careful study, especially the priests of Christ and others, such as deacons and catechists who are legitimately active in the ministry of the word. This is to be done so that none of them will become "an empty preacher of the word of God outwardly, who is not a listener to it inwardly" (4) since they must share the abundant wealth of the divine word with the faithful committed to them, especially in the sacred liturgy. The sacred synod also earnestly and especially urges all the Christian faithful, especially Religious, to learn by frequent reading of the divine Scriptures the "excellent knowledge of Jesus Christ" (Phil. 3:8). "For ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ."(5) Therefore, they should gladly put themselves in touch with the sacred text itself, whether it be through the liturgy, rich in the divine word, or through devotional reading, or through instructions suitable for the purpose and other aids which, in our time, with approval and active support of the shepherds of the Church, are commendably spread everywhere. And let them remember that prayer should accompany the reading of Sacred Scripture, so that God and man may talk together; for "we speak to Him when we pray; we hear Him when we read the divine saying."

Footnotes

1 DV 8.
2 Cf. DV 8.
3 ⇒ Jn 4:14
4 DV 25; cf. ⇒ Phil 3:8; St. Ambrose, De officiis ministrorum 1, 20,88: PL 16, 50.
5 Guigo the Carthusian, Scala Paradisi: PL 40, 998.
6 Cf. ⇒ Mt 6:6[ETML:C/].
7 GILH 9.



Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 2639-2643, 2649 – Prayer of Praise

clock August 29, 2013 01:02 by author John |

Today’s Catechism sections discuss the prayer of praise. Supporting material comes from the “Summa Theologica”.

V. Prayer of Praise

2639 Praise is the form of prayer which recognizes most immediately that God is God. It lauds God for his own sake and gives him glory, quite beyond what he does, but simply because HE IS. It shares in the blessed happiness of the pure of heart who love God in faith before seeing him in glory. By praise, the Spirit is joined to our spirits to bear witness that we are children of God,121 testifying to the only Son in whom we are adopted and by whom we glorify the Father. Praise embraces the other forms of prayer and carries them toward him who is its source and goal: the "one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist."122

2640 St. Luke in his gospel often expresses wonder and praise at the marvels of Christ and in his Acts of the Apostles stresses them as actions of the Holy Spirit: the community of Jerusalem, the invalid healed by Peter and John, the crowd that gives glory to God for that, and the pagans of Pisidia who "were glad and glorified the word of God."123

2641 "[Address] one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart."124 Like the inspired writers of the New Testament, the first Christian communities read the Book of Psalms in a new way, singing in it the mystery of Christ. In the newness of the Spirit, they also composed hymns and canticles in the light of the unheard - of event that God accomplished in his Son: his Incarnation, his death which conquered death, his Resurrection, and Ascension to the right hand of the Father.125 Doxology, the praise of God, arises from this "marvelous work" of the whole economy of salvation.126

2642 The Revelation of "what must soon take place," the Apocalypse, is borne along by the songs of the heavenly liturgy127 but also by the intercession of the "witnesses" (martyrs).128 The prophets and the saints, all those who were slain on earth for their witness to Jesus, the vast throng of those who, having come through the great tribulation, have gone before us into the Kingdom, all sing the praise and glory of him who sits on the throne, and of the Lamb.129 In communion with them, the Church on earth also sings these songs with faith in the midst of trial. By means of petition and intercession, faith hopes against all hope and gives thanks to the "Father of lights," from whom "every perfect gift" comes down.130 Thus faith is pure praise.

2643 The Eucharist contains and expresses all forms of prayer: it is "the pure offering" of the whole Body of Christ to the glory of God's name131 and, according to the traditions of East and West, it is the "sacrifice of praise."

IN BRIEF

2649 Prayer of praise is entirely disinterested and rises to God, lauds him, and gives him glory for his own sake, quite beyond what he has done, but simply because HE IS.

In the “Summa Theologica”, (Secunda Secundæ Partis, 91, 2), St. Thomas Aquinas discusses the prayer of praise, particularly in song.

Article 2. Whether God should be praised with song?

Objection 1. It would seem that God should not be praised with song. For the Apostle says (Colossians 3:16): "Teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual canticles." Now we should employ nothing in the divine worship, save what is delivered to us on the authority of Scripture. Therefore it would seem that, in praising God, we should employ, not corporal but spiritual canticles.

Objection 2. Further, Jerome in his commentary on Ephesians 5:19, "Singing and making melody in your hearts to the Lord," says: "Listen, young men whose duty it is to recite the office in church: God is to be sung not with the voice but with the heart. Nor should you, like play-actors, ease your throat and jaws with medicaments, and make the church resound with theatrical measures and airs." Therefore God should not be praised with song.

Objection 3. Further, the praise of God is competent to little and great, according to Apocalypse 14, "Give praise to our God, all ye His servants; and you that fear Him, little and great." But the great, who are in the church, ought not to sing: for Gregory says (Regist. iv, ep. 44): "I hereby ordain that in this See the ministers of the sacred altar must not sing" (Cf. Decret., dist. xcii., cap. On sancta Romana Ecclesia). Therefore singing is unsuitable to the divine praises.

Objection 4. Further, in the Old Law God was praised with musical instruments and human song, according to Psalm 32:2-3: "Give praise to the Lord on the harp, sing to Him with the psaltery, the instrument of ten strings. Sing to Him a new canticle." But the Church does not make use of musical instruments such as harps and psalteries, in the divine praises, for fear of seeming to imitate the Jews. Therefore in like manner neither should song be used in the divine praises.

Objection 5. Further, the praise of the heart is more important than the praise of the lips. But the praise of the heart is hindered by singing, both because the attention of the singers is distracted from the consideration of what they are singing, so long as they give all their attention to the chant, and because others are less able to understand the thing that are sung than if they were recited without chant. Therefore chants should not be employed in the divine praises.

On the contrary, Blessed Ambrose established singing in the Church of Milan, a Augustine relates (Confess. ix).

I answer that, As stated above (Article 1), the praise of the voice is necessary in order to arouse man's devotion towards God. Wherefore whatever is useful in conducing to this result is becomingly adopted in the divine praises. Now it is evident that the human soul is moved in various ways according to various melodies of sound, as the Philosopher state (Polit. viii, 5), and also Boethius (De Musica, prologue). Hence the use of music in the divine praises is a salutary institution, that the souls of the faint-hearted may be the more incited to devotion. Wherefore Augustine say (Confess. x, 33): "I am inclined to approve of the usage of singing in the church, that so by the delight of the ears the faint-hearted may rise to the feeling of devotion": and he says of himself (Confess. ix, 6): "I wept in Thy hymns and canticles, touched to the quick by the voices of Thy sweet-attuned Church."

Reply to Objection 1. The name of spiritual canticle may be given not only to those that are sung inwardly in spirit, but also to those that are sung outwardly with the lips, inasmuch as such like canticles arouse spiritual devotion.

Reply to Objection 2. Jerome does not absolutely condemn singing, but reproves those who sing theatrically in church not in order to arouse devotion, but in order to show off, or to provoke pleasure. Hence Augustine says (Confess. x, 33): "When it befalls me to be more moved by the voice than by the words sung, I confess to have sinned penally, and then had rather not hear the singer."

Reply to Objection 3. To arouse men to devotion by teaching and preaching is a more excellent way than by singing. Wherefore deacons and prelates, whom it becomes to incite men's minds towards God by means of preaching and teaching, ought not to be instant in singing, lest thereby they be withdrawn from greater things. Hence Gregory says (Regist. iv, ep. 44): "It is a most discreditable custom for those who have been raised to the diaconate to serve as choristers, for it behooves them to give their whole time to the duty of preaching and to taking charge of the alms."

Reply to Objection 4. As the Philosopher says (Polit. viii, 6), "Teaching should not be accompanied with a flute or any artificial instrument such as the harp or anything else of this kind: but only with such things as make good hearers." For such like musical instruments move the soul to pleasure rather than create a good disposition within it. On the Old Testament instruments of this description were employed, both because the people were more coarse and carnal--so that they needed to be aroused by such instruments as also by earthly promises--and because these material instruments were figures of something else.

Reply to Objection 5. The soul is distracted from that which is sung by a chant that is employed for the purpose of giving pleasure. But if the singer chant for the sake of devotion, he pays more attention to what he says, both because he lingers more thereon, and because, as Augustine remarks (Confess. x, 33), "each affection of our spirit, according to its variety, has its own appropriate measure in the voice, and singing, by some hidden correspondence wherewith it is stirred." The same applies to the hearers, for even if some of them understand not what is sung, yet they understand why it is sung, namely, for God's glory: and this is enough to arouse their devotion.

Footnotes

121 Cf. ⇒ Rom 8:16.
122 ⇒ 1 Cor 8:6.
123 ⇒ Acts 2:47; ⇒ 3:9; ⇒ 4:21; ⇒ 13:48.
124 ⇒ Eph 5:19; ⇒ Col 3:16.
125 Cf. ⇒ Phil 2:6-11; ⇒ Col 1:15-20; ⇒ Eph 5:14; ⇒ 1 Tim 3:16; ⇒ 6:15-16; ⇒ 2 Tim 2:11-13.
126 Cf. ⇒ Eph 1:3-14; ⇒ Rom 16:25-27; ⇒ Eph 3:20-21; Jude 24-25.
127 Cf. ⇒ Rev 4:8-11; ⇒ 5:9-14; ⇒ 7:10-12.
128 ⇒ Rev 6:10.
129 Cf. ⇒ Rev 18:24; ⇒ 19:1-8.
130 ⇒ Jas 1:17.
131 Cf. ⇒ Mal 1:11.



Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 2634-2638, 2647-2648 – The Prayers of Intercession and Thanksgiving

clock August 28, 2013 01:02 by author John |

Today’s Catechism sections discuss the prayers of intercession and thanksgiving. Supporting material comes from the “Summa Theologica”.

III. Prayer of Intercession

2634 Intercession is a prayer of petition which leads us to pray as Jesus did. He is the one intercessor with the Father on behalf of all men, especially sinners.112 He is "able for all time to save those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them."113 The Holy Spirit "himself intercedes for us . . . and intercedes for the saints according to the will of God."114

2635 Since Abraham, intercession - asking on behalf of another has been characteristic of a heart attuned to God's mercy. In the age of the Church, Christian intercession participates in Christ's, as an expression of the communion of saints. In intercession, he who prays looks "not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others," even to the point of praying for those who do him harm.115

2636 The first Christian communities lived this form of fellowship intensely.116 Thus the Apostle Paul gives them a share in his ministry of preaching the Gospel117 but also intercedes for them.118 The intercession of Christians recognizes no boundaries: "for all men, for kings and all who are in high positions," for persecutors, for the salvation of those who reject the Gospel.119

IV. Prayer of Thanksgiving

2637 Thanksgiving characterizes the prayer of the Church which, in celebrating the Eucharist, reveals and becomes more fully what she is. Indeed, in the work of salvation, Christ sets creation free from sin and death to consecrate it anew and make it return to the Father, for his glory. The thanksgiving of the members of the Body participates in that of their Head.

2638 As in the prayer of petition, every event and need can become an offering of thanksgiving. The letters of St. Paul often begin and end with thanksgiving, and the Lord Jesus is always present in it: "Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you"; "Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving."120

IN BRIEF

2647 Prayer of intercession consists in asking on behalf of another. It knows no boundaries and extends to one's enemies.

2648 Every joy and suffering, every event and need can become the matter for thanksgiving which, sharing in that of Christ, should fill one's whole life: "Give thanks in all circumstances" (⇒ 1 Thess 5:18).

In the “Summa Theologica” (Secunda Secundæ Partis, 106, 2), St. Thomas Aquinas discusses thankfulness.

Article 2. Whether the innocent is more bound to give thanks to God than the penitent?

Objection 1. It seems that the innocent is more bound to give thanks to God than the penitent. For the greater the gift one has received from God, the more one is bound to give Him thanks. Now the gift of innocence is greater than that of justice restored. Therefore it seems that the innocent is more bound to give thanks to God than the penitent.

Objection 2. Further, a man owes love to his benefactor just as he owes him gratitude. Now Augustine says (Confess. ii): "What man, weighing his own infirmity, would dare to ascribe his purity and innocence to his own strength; that so he should love Thee the less, as if he had less needed Thy mercy, whereby Thou remittest sins to those that turn to Thee?" And farther on he says: "And for this let him love Thee as much, yea and more, since by Whom he sees me to have been recovered from such deep torpor of sin, by Him he sees himself to have been from the like torpor of sin preserved." Therefore the innocent is also more bound to give thanks than the penitent.

Objection 3. Further, the more a gratuitous favor is continuous, the greater the thanksgiving due for it. Now the favor of divine grace is more continuous in the innocent than in the penitent. For Augustine says (Confess. iii): "To Thy grace I ascribe it, and to Thy mercy, that Thou hast melted away my sins as it were ice. To Thy grace I ascribe also whatsoever I have not done of evil; for what might I not have done? . . . Yea, all I confess to have been forgiven me, both what evils I committed by my own wilfulness, and what by Thy guidance committed not." Therefore the innocent is more bound to give thanks than the penitent.

On the contrary, It is written (Luke 7:43): "To whom more is forgiven, he loveth more [Vulgate: 'To whom less is forgiven, he loveth less' Luke 7:47." Therefore for the same reason he is bound to greater thanksgiving.

I answer that, Thanksgiving [gratiarum actio] in the recipient corresponds to the favor [gratia] of the giver: so that when there is greater favor on the part of the giver, greater thanks are due on the part of the recipient. Now a favor is something bestowed "gratis": wherefore on the part of the giver the favor may be greater on two counts. First, owing to the quantity of the thing given: and in this way the innocent owes greater thanksgiving, because he receives a greater gift from God, also, absolutely speaking, a more continuous gift, other things being equal. Secondly, a favor may be said to be greater, because it is given more gratuitously; and in this sense the penitent is more bound to give thanks than the innocent, because what he receives from God is more gratuitously given: since, whereas he was deserving of punishment, he has received grace. Wherefore, although the gift bestowed on the innocent is, considered absolutely, greater, yet the gift bestowed on the penitent is greater in relation to him: even as a small gift bestowed on a poor man is greater to him than a great gift is to a rich man. And since actions are about singulars, in matters of action, we have to take note of what is such here and now, rather than of what is such absolutely, as the Philosopher observes (Ethic. iii) in treating of the voluntary and the involuntary.

This suffices for the Replies to the Objections.

Footnotes

112 Cf. ⇒ Rom 8:34; ⇒ 1 Jn 2:1; ⇒ 1 Tim 2:5-8.
113 ⇒ Heb 7:25.
114 ⇒ Rom 8:26-27.
115 ⇒ Phil 2:4; cf. ⇒ Acts 7:60; ⇒ Lk 23:28, ⇒ 34.
116 Cf. ⇒ Acts 12:5; ⇒ 20:36; ⇒ 21:5; ⇒ 2 Cor 9:14.
117 Cf. ⇒ Eph 6:18-20; ⇒ Col 4:3-4;  ⇒ 1 Thess 5:25.
118 Cf. ⇒ 2 Thess 1:11; ⇒ Col 1:3; ⇒ Phil 1:3-4.
119 ⇒ 2 Tim 2:1; cf. ⇒ Rom 12:14; ⇒ 10:1.
120  ⇒ 1 Thess 5:18; ⇒ Col 4:2.



Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 2629-2633, 2646 – Prayer of Petition

clock August 27, 2013 01:02 by author John |

Today’s Catechism sections discuss prayer of petition. Supporting material comes from St. Augustine’s “Exposition on Psalm 62”.

II. Prayer of Petition

2629 The vocabulary of supplication in the New Testament is rich in shades of meaning: ask, beseech, plead, invoke, entreat, cry out, even "struggle in prayer."102 Its most usual form, because the most spontaneous, is petition: by prayer of petition we express awareness of our relationship with God. We are creatures who are not our own beginning, not the masters of adversity, not our own last end. We are sinners who as Christians know that we have turned away from our Father. Our petition is already a turning back to him.

2630 The New Testament contains scarcely any prayers of lamentation, so frequent in the Old Testament. In the risen Christ the Church's petition is buoyed by hope, even if we still wait in a state of expectation and must be converted anew every day. Christian petition, what St. Paul calls {"groaning," arises from another depth, that of creation "in labor pains" and that of ourselves "as we wait for the redemption of our bodies.
For in this hope we were saved."103 In the end, however, "with sighs too deep for words" the Holy Spirit "helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words."104

2631 The first movement of the prayer of petition is asking forgiveness, like the tax collector in the parable: "God, be merciful to me a sinner!"105 It is a prerequisite for righteous and pure prayer. A trusting humility brings us back into the light of communion between the Father and his Son Jesus Christ and with one another, so that "we receive from him whatever we ask."106 Asking forgiveness is the prerequisite for both the Eucharistic liturgy and personal prayer.

2632 Christian petition is centered on the desire and search for the Kingdom to come, in keeping with the teaching of Christ.107 There is a hierarchy in these petitions: we pray first for the Kingdom, then for what is necessary to welcome it and cooperate with its coming. This collaboration with the mission of Christ and the Holy Spirit, which is now that of the Church, is the object of the prayer of the apostolic community.108 It is the prayer of Paul, the apostle par excellence, which reveals to us how the divine solicitude for all the churches ought to inspire Christian prayer.109 By prayer every baptized person works for the coming of the Kingdom.

2633 When we share in God's saving love, we understand that every need can become the object of petition. Christ, who assumed all things in order to redeem all things, is glorified by what we ask the Father in his name.110 It is with this confidence that St. James and St. Paul exhort us to pray at all times.111

IN BRIEF

2646 Forgiveness, the quest for the Kingdom, and every true need are objects of the prayer of petition.

St. Augustine discusses the prayer of repentance in his “Exposition on Psalm 62”.

15. That thirst of the Church, would fain drink up that man also whom you see. At the same time also, in order that you may know how many in the mixed multitude of Christians with their mouth do bless, and in their heart curse, this man having been a Christian and a believer returns as a penitent, and being terrified by the power of the Lord, turns him to the mercy of the Lord. For having been led astray by the enemy when he was a believer, long time he has been an astrologer, led astray, leading astray, deceived, deceiving, he has allured, has beguiled, many lies he has spoken against God, That has given to men power of doing that which is good, and of not doing that which is evil. He used to say, that one's own will did not adultery, but Venus; one's own will did not manslaying, but Mars; and God did not what is just, but Jupiter; and many other blasphemous things, and not light ones. From how many Christians do ye think he has pocketed money? How many from him have bought a lie, to whom we used to say, Sons of men, how long are you dull of heart, wherefore love ye vanity, and seek a lie? Now, as of him must be believed, he has shuddered at his lie, and being the allurer of many men, he has perceived at length that by the devil he has himself been allured, and he turns to God a penitent. We think, brethren, that because of great fear of heart it has come to pass. For what must we say? If out of a heathen an astrologer were converted, great indeed would be the joy: but nevertheless it might appear, that, if he had been converted, he was desiring the clerical office in the Church. A penitent he is, he seeks not anything save mercy alone. He must be recommended therefore both to your eyes and hearts. Him whom you see in hearts love ye, with eyes guard ye. See ye him, mark ye him, and wherever he shall have gone his way, to the rest of the brethren that now are not here, point him out: and such diligence is mercy; lest that leader astray drag back his heart and take it by storm. Guard ye him, let there not escape you his conversation, his way: in order that by your testimony it may be proved to us that truly to the Lord he has been turned. For report will not be silent about his life, when to you he is thus presented both to be seen and to be pitied. You know in the Acts of the Apostles how it is written, that many lost men, that is, men of such arts, and followers of naughty doctrines, brought unto the Apostles all their books; and there were burned so many volumes, that it was the writer's task to make a valuation of them, and write down the sum of the price. Acts 19:19 This truly was for the glory of God, in order that even such lost men might not be despaired of by Him that knew how to seek that which had been lost. Therefore this man had been lost, is now sought, found, Luke 15:32 led hither, he brings with him books to be burned, by which he had been to be burned, so that when these have been thrown into the fire, he may himself pass over into a place of refreshment. Know ye that he, brethren, once knocked at the Church door before Easter: for before Easter he began to ask of the Church Christ's medicine. But because the art wherein he had been practised is of such sort as that it was suspected of lying and deceit, he was put off that he might not tempt; at length however he was admitted, that he might not more dangerously be tempted. Pray for him through Christ. Straightway today's prayer pour out for him to the Lord our God. For we know and are sure, that your prayer effaces all his impieties. The Lord be with you.

Footnotes

101 Cf. St. Augustine, En. in Ps. 62,16: PL 36, 757-758.
102 Cf. ⇒ Rom 15:30; ⇒ Col 4:12.
103 ⇒ Rom 8:22-24.
104 ⇒ Rom 8:26.
105 ⇒ Lk 18:13.
106 ⇒ 1 Jn 3:22; cf. ⇒ 1:7- ⇒ 2:2.
107 Cf. ⇒ Mt 6:10, ⇒ 33; ⇒ Lk 11:2, ⇒ 13.
108 Cf. ⇒ Acts 6:6; ⇒ 13:3.
109 Cf. ⇒ Rom 10:1; ⇒ Eph 1:16-23; Phil 1911; ⇒ Col 1:3-6; ⇒ 4:3-4, ⇒ 12.
110 Cf. ⇒ Jn 14:13.
111 Cf. ⇒ Jas 1:5-8; ⇒ Eph 5:20; ⇒ Phil 4:6-7; ⇒ Col 3:16-17;  ⇒ 1 Thess 5:17-18.