St. Wulfric of Haselbury
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Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 2803-2806, 2857 – The Seven Petitions of the Lord’s Prayer

clock September 17, 2013 01:02 by author John |

Today’s Catechism sections discuss the seven petitions of the Lord’s Prayer. Supporting material comes from the “Summa Theologica”.

Article 3

THE SEVEN PETITIONS

2803 After we have placed ourselves in the presence of God our Father to adore and to love and to bless him, the Spirit of adoption stirs up in our hearts seven petitions, seven blessings. The first three, more theological, draw us toward the glory of the Father; the last four, as ways toward him, commend our wretchedness to his grace. "Deep calls to deep."63

2804 The first series of petitions carries us toward him, for his own sake: thy name, thy kingdom, thy will! It is characteristic of love to think first of the one whom we love. In none of the three petitions do we mention ourselves; the burning desire, even anguish, of the beloved Son for his Father's glory seizes us:64 "hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done...." These three supplications were already answered in the saving sacrifice of Christ, but they are henceforth directed in hope toward their final fulfillment, for God is not yet all in all.65

2805 The second series of petitions unfolds with the same movement as certain Eucharistic epicleses: as an offering up of our expectations, that draws down upon itself the eyes of the Father of mercies. They go up from us and concern us from this very moment, in our present world: "give us . . . forgive us . . . lead us not ... deliver us...." the fourth and fifth petitions concern our life as such - to be fed and to be healed of sin; the last two concern our battle for the victory of life - that battle of prayer.

2806 By the three first petitions, we are strengthened in faith, filled with hope, and set aflame by charity. Being creatures and still sinners, we have to petition for us, for that "us" bound by the world and history, which we offer to the boundless love of God. For through the name of his Christ and the reign of his Holy Spirit, our Father accomplishes his plan of salvation, for us and for the whole world.

IN BRIEF

2857 In the Our Father, the object of the first three petitions is the glory of the Father: the sanctification of his name, the coming of the kingdom, and the fulfillment of his will. The four others present our wants to him: they ask that our lives be nourished, healed of sin, and made victorious in the struggle of good over evil.

In the “Summa Theologica” (), St. Thomas Aquinas discusses the seven petitions of the Lord’s Prayer.

Article 9. Whether the seven petitions of the Lord's Prayer are fittingly assigned?

Objection 1. It would seem that the seven petitions of the Lord's Prayer are not fittingly assigned. It is useless to ask for that to be hallowed which is always holy. But the name of God is always holy, according to Luke 1:49, "Holy is His name." Again, His kingdom is everlasting, according to Psalm 144:13, "Thy kingdom is a kingdom of all ages." Again, God's will is always fulfilled, according to Isaiah 46:10, "All My will shall be done." Therefore it is useless to ask for "the name of God to be hallowed," for "His kingdom to come," and for "His will to be done."

Objection 2. Further, one must withdraw from evil before attaining good. Therefore it seems unfitting for the petitions relating to the attainment of good to be set forth before those relating to the removal of evil.

Objection 3. Further, one asks for a thing that it may be given to one. Now the chief gift of God is the Holy Ghost, and those gifts that we receive through Him. Therefore the petitions seem to be unfittingly assigned, since they do not correspond to the gifts of the Holy Ghost.

Objection 4. Further, according to Luke, only five petitions are mentioned in the Lord's Prayer, as appears from the eleventh chapter. Therefore it was superfluous for Matthew to mention seven.

Objection 5. Further, it seems useless to seek to win the benevolence of one who forestalls us by his benevolence. Now God forestalls us by His benevolence, since "He first hath loved us" (1 John 4:19). Therefore it is useless to preface the petitions with the words our "Father Who art in heaven," which seem to indicate a desire to win God's benevolence.

On the contrary, The authority of Christ, who composed this prayer, suffices.

I answer that, The Lord's Prayer is most perfect, because, as Augustine says (ad Probam Ep. cxxx, 12), "if we pray rightly and fittingly, we can say nothing else but what is contained in this prayer of our Lord." For since prayer interprets our desires, as it were, before God, then alone is it right to ask for something in our prayers when it is right that we should desire it. Now in the Lord's Prayer not only do we ask for all that we may rightly desire, but also in the order wherein we ought to desire them, so that this prayer not only teaches us to ask, but also directs all our affections. Thus it is evident that the first thing to be the object of our desire is the end, and afterwards whatever is directed to the end. Now our end is God towards Whom our affections tend in two ways: first, by our willing the glory of God, secondly, by willing to enjoy His glory. The first belongs to the love whereby we love God in Himself, while the second belongs to the love whereby we love ourselves in God. Wherefore the first petition is expressed thus: "Hallowed be Thy name," and the second thus: "Thy kingdom come," by which we ask to come to the glory of His kingdom.

To this same end a thing directs us in two ways: in one way, by its very nature, in another way, accidentally. Of its very nature the good which is useful for an end directs us to that end. Now a thing is useful in two ways to that end which is beatitude: in one way, directly and principally, according to the merit whereby we merit beatitude by obeying God, and in this respect we ask: "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven"; in another way instrumentally, and as it were helping us to merit, and in this respect we say: "Give us this day our daily bread," whether we understand this of the sacramental Bread, the daily use of which is profitable to man, and in which all the other sacraments are contained, or of the bread of the body, so that it denotes all sufficiency of food, as Augustine says (ad Probam, Ep. cxxx, 11), since the Eucharist is the chief sacrament, and bread is the chief food: thus in the Gospel of Matthew we read, "supersubstantial," i.e. "principal," as Jerome expounds it.

We are directed to beatitude accidentally by the removal of obstacles. Now there are three obstacles to our attainment of beatitude. First, there is sin, which directly excludes a man from the kingdom, according to 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, "Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, etc., shall possess the kingdom of God"; and to this refer the words, "Forgive us our trespasses." Secondly, there is temptation which hinders us from keeping God's will, and to this we refer when we say: "And lead us not into temptation," whereby we do not ask not to be tempted, but not to be conquered by temptation, which is to be led into temptation. Thirdly, there is the present penal state which is a kind of obstacle to a sufficiency of life, and to this we refer in the words, "Deliver us from evil."

Reply to Objection 1. As Augustine says (De Serm. Dom. in Monte ii, 5), when we say, "Hallowed be Thy name, we do not mean that God's name is not holy, but we ask that men may treat it as a holy thing," and this pertains to the diffusion of God's glory among men. When we say, "Thy kingdom come, we do not imply that God is not reigning now," but "we excite in ourselves the desire for that kingdom, that it may come to us, and that we may reign therein," as Augustine says (ad Probam, Ep. cxxx, 11). The words, "Thy will be done rightly signify, 'May Thy commandments be obeyed' on earth as in heaven, i.e. by men as well as by angels" (De Serm. Dom. in Monte ii, 6). Hence these three petitions will be perfectly fulfilled in the life to come; while the other four, according to Augustine (Enchiridion cxv), belong to the needs of the present life.

Reply to Objection 2. Since prayer is the interpreter of desire, the order of the petitions corresponds with the order, not of execution, but of desire or intention, where the end precedes the things that are directed to the end, and attainment of good precedes removal of evil.

Reply to Objection 3. Augustine (De Serm. Dom. in Monte ii, 11) adapts the seven petitions to the gifts and beatitudes. He says: "If it is fear God whereby blessed are the poor in spirit, let us ask that God's name be hallowed among men with a chaste fear. If it is piety whereby blessed are the meek, let us ask that His kingdom may come, so that we become meek and no longer resist Him. If it is knowledge whereby blessed are they that mourn, let us pray that His will be done, for thus we shall mourn no more. If it is fortitude whereby blessed ere they that hunger, let us pray that our daily bread be given to us. If it is counsel whereby blessed are the merciful, let us forgive the trespasses of others that our own may be forgiven. If it is understanding whereby blessed are the pure in heart, let us pray lest we have a double heart by seeking after worldly things which ere the occasion of our temptations. If it is wisdom whereby blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God, let us pray to be delivered from evil: for if we be delivered we shall by that very fact become the free children of God."

Reply to Objection 4. According to Augustine (Enchiridion cxvi), "Luke included not seven but five petitions in the Lord's Prayer, for by omitting it, he shows that the third petition is a kind of repetition of the two that precede, and thus helps us to understand it"; because, to wit, the will of God tends chiefly to this--that we come to the knowledge of His holiness and to reign together with Him. Again the last petition mentioned by Matthew, "Deliver us from evil," is omitted by Luke, so that each one may know himself to be delivered from evil if he be not led into temptation.

Reply to Objection 5. Prayer is offered up to God, not that we may bend Him, but that we may excite in ourselves the confidence to ask: which confidence is excited in us chiefly by the consideration of His charity in our regard, whereby he wills our good--wherefore we say: "Our Father"; and of His excellence, whereby He is able to fulfil it--wherefore we say: "Who art in heaven."

Footnotes

63 ⇒ Ps 42:7.
64 Cf. ⇒ Lk 22:14; ⇒ 12:50.
65 Cf. ⇒ 1 Cor 15:28.



Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 2732-2741, 2755-2756 – Temptations in Prayer and Filial Trust

clock September 9, 2013 01:02 by author John |

Today’s Catechism sections discuss temptations in prayer and filial trust. Supporting material comes from the “Summa Theologica”.

Facing temptations in prayer

2732 The most common yet most hidden temptation is our lack of faith. It expresses itself less by declared incredulity than by our actual preferences. When we begin to pray, a thousand labors or cares thought to be urgent vie for priority; once again, it is the moment of truth for the heart: what is its real love? Sometimes we turn to the Lord as a last resort, but do we really believe he is? Sometimes we enlist the Lord as an ally, but our heart remains presumptuous. In each case, our lack of faith reveals that we do not yet share in the disposition of a humble heart:
"Apart from me, you can do nothing."20

2733 Another temptation, to which presumption opens the gate, is acedia. The spiritual writers understand by this a form of depression due to lax ascetical practice, decreasing vigilance, carelessness of heart. "The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."21 The greater the height, the harder the fall. Painful as discouragement is, it is the reverse of presumption. The humble are not surprised by their distress; it leads them to trust more, to hold fast in constancy.

III. Filial Trust

2734 Filial trust is tested - it proves itself - in tribulation.22 The principal difficulty concerns the prayer of petition, for oneself or for others in intercession. Some even stop praying because they think their petition is not heard. Here two questions should be asked: Why do we think our petition has not been heard? How is our prayer heard, how is it "efficacious"?
Why do we complain of not being heard?

2735 In the first place, we ought to be astonished by this fact: when we praise God or give him thanks for his benefits in general, we are not particularly concerned whether or not our prayer is acceptable to him. On the other hand, we demand to see the results of our petitions. What is the image of God that motivates our prayer: an instrument to be used? Or the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ?

2736 Are we convinced that "we do not know how to pray as we ought"?23 Are we asking God for "what is good for us"? Our Father knows what we need before we ask him,24 but he awaits our petition because the dignity of his children lies in their freedom. We must pray, then, with his Spirit of freedom, to be able truly to know what he wants.25

2737 "You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions."26 If we ask with a divided heart, we are "adulterers";27 God cannot answer us, for he desires our well-being, our life. "Or do you suppose that it is in vain that the scripture says, 'He yearns jealously over the spirit which he has made to dwell in us?'"28 That our God is "jealous" for us is the sign of how true his love is. If we enter into the desire of his Spirit, we shall be heard.

Do not be troubled if you do not immediately receive from God what you ask him; for he desires to do something even greater for you, while you cling to him in prayer.29

God wills that our desire should be exercised in prayer, that we may be able to receive what he is prepared to give.30

How is our prayer efficacious?

2738 The revelation of prayer in the economy of salvation teaches us that faith rests on God's action in history. Our filial trust is enkindled by his supreme act: the Passion and Resurrection of his Son. Christian prayer is cooperation with his providence, his plan of love for men.

2739 For St. Paul, this trust is bold, founded on the prayer of the Spirit in us and on the faithful love of the Father who has given us his only Son.31 Transformation of the praying heart is the first response to our petition.

2740 The prayer of Jesus makes Christian prayer an efficacious petition. He is its model, he prays in us and with us. Since the heart of the Son seeks only what pleases the Father, how could the prayer of the children of adoption be centered on the gifts rather than the Giver?

2741 Jesus also prays for us - in our place and on our behalf. All our petitions were gathered up, once for all, in his cry on the Cross and, in his Resurrection, heard by the Father. This is why he never ceases to intercede for us with the Father.32 If our prayer is resolutely united with that of Jesus, in trust and boldness as children, we obtain all that we ask in his name, even more than any particular thing: the Holy Spirit himself, who contains all gifts.

IN BRIEF

2755 Two frequent temptations threaten prayer: lack of faith and acedia - a form of depression stemming from lax ascetical practice that leads to discouragement.

2756 Filial trust is put to the test when we feel that our prayer is not always heard. The Gospel invites us to ask ourselves about the conformity of our prayer to the desire of the Spirit.

In the “Summa Theologica” (Secunda Secundæ Partis, 35, 1), St. Thomas Aquinas discusses acedia (sloth).

Article 1. Whether sloth is a sin?

Objection 1. It would seem that sloth is not a sin. For we are neither praised nor blamed for our passions, according to the Philosopher (Ethic. ii, 5). Now sloth is a passion, since it is a kind of sorrow, according to Damascene (De Fide Orth. ii, 14), and as we stated above (I-II, 35, 8). Therefore sloth is not a sin.

Objection 2. Further, no bodily failing that occurs at fixed times is a sin.

But sloth is like this, for Cassian says (De Instit. Monast. x, [De Institutione Caeobiorum]): "The monk is troubled with sloth chiefly about the sixth hour: it is like an intermittent fever, and inflicts the soul of the one it lays low with burning fires at regular and fixed intervals." Therefore sloth is not a sin.

Objection 3. Further, that which proceeds from a good root is, seemingly, no sin. Now sloth proceeds from a good root, for Cassian says (De Instit. Monast. x) that "sloth arises from the fact that we sigh at being deprived of spiritual fruit, and think that other monasteries and those which are a long way off are much better than the one we dwell in": all of which seems to point to humility. Therefore sloth is not a sin.

Objection 4. Further, all sin is to be avoided, according to Sirach 21:2: "Flee from sins as from the face of a serpent." Now Cassian says (De Instit. Monast. x): "Experience shows that the onslaught of sloth is not to be evaded by flight but to be conquered by resistance." Therefore sloth is not a sin.

On the contrary, Whatever is forbidden in Holy Writ is a sin. Now such is sloth [acedia]: for it is written (Sirach 6:26): "Bow down thy shoulder, and bear her," namely spiritual wisdom, "and be not grieved [acedieris] with her bands." Therefore sloth is a sin.

I answer that, Sloth, according to Damascene (De Fide Orth. ii, 14) is an oppressive sorrow, which, to wit, so weighs upon man's mind, that he wants to do nothing; thus acid things are also cold. Hence sloth implies a certain weariness of work, as appears from a gloss on Psalm 106:18, "Their soul abhorred all manner of meat," and from the definition of some who say that sloth is a "sluggishness of the mind which neglects to begin good."

Now this sorrow is always evil, sometimes in itself, sometimes in its effect. For sorrow is evil in itself when it is about that which is apparently evil but good in reality, even as, on the other hand, pleasure is evil if it is about that which seems to be good but is, in truth, evil. Since, then, spiritual good is a good in very truth, sorrow about spiritual good is evil in itself. And yet that sorrow also which is about a real evil, is evil in its effect, if it so oppresses man as to draw him away entirely from good deeds. Hence the Apostle (2 Corinthians 2:7) did not wish those who repented to be "swallowed up with overmuch sorrow."

Accordingly, since sloth, as we understand it here, denotes sorrow for spiritual good, it is evil on two counts, both in itself and in point of its effect. Consequently it is a sin, for by sin we mean an evil movement of the appetite, as appears from what has been said above (10, 2; I-II, 74, 4).

Reply to Objection 1. Passions are not sinful in themselves; but they are blameworthy in so far as they are applied to something evil, just as they deserve praise in so far as they are applied to something good. Wherefore sorrow, in itself, calls neither for praise nor for blame: whereas moderate sorrow for evil calls for praise, while sorrow for good, and again immoderate sorrow for evil, call for blame. It is in this sense that sloth is said to be a sin.

Reply to Objection 2. The passions of the sensitive appetite may either be venial sins in themselves, or incline the soul to mortal sin. And since the sensitive appetite has a bodily organ, it follows that on account of some bodily transmutation a man becomes apt to commit some particular sin. Hence it may happen that certain sins may become more insistent, through certain bodily transmutations occurring at certain fixed times. Now all bodily effects, of themselves, dispose one to sorrow; and thus it is that those who fast are harassed by sloth towards mid-day, when they begin to feel the want of food, and to be parched by the sun's heat.

Reply to Objection 3. It is a sign of humility if a man does not think too much of himself, through observing his own faults; but if a man contemns the good things he has received from God, this, far from being a proof of humility, shows him to be ungrateful: and from such like contempt results sloth, because we sorrow for things that we reckon evil and worthless. Accordingly we ought to think much of the goods of others, in such a way as not to disparage those we have received ourselves, because if we did they would give us sorrow.

Reply to Objection 4. Sin is ever to be shunned, but the assaults of sin should be overcome, sometimes by flight, sometimes by resistance; by flight when a continued thought increases the incentive to sin, as in lust; for which reason it is written (1 Corinthians 6:18): "Fly fornication"; by resistance, when perseverance in the thought diminishes the incentive to sin, which incentive arises from some trivial consideration. This is the case with sloth, because the more we think about spiritual goods, the more pleasing they become to us, and forthwith sloth dies away.

Footnotes

20 ⇒ Jn 15:5.
21 ⇒ Mt 26:41.
22 Cf. ⇒ Rom 5:3-5.
23 ⇒ Rom 8:26.
24 Cf. ⇒ Mt 6:8[ETML:C/].
25 Cf. ⇒ Rom 8:27.
26 ⇒ Jas 4:3; cf. The whole context: ⇒ Jas 4:1-10; ⇒ 1:5-8; ⇒ 5:16.
27 ⇒ Jas 4:4.
28 ⇒ Jas 4:5.
29 Evagrius Ponticus, De oratione 34: PG 79, 1173.
30 St. Augustine, Ep. 130, 8, 17: PL 33, 500.
31 Cf. ⇒ Rom 10:12-13; ⇒ 8:26-39.
32 Cf. ⇒ Heb 5:7; ⇒ 7:25; ⇒ 9:24



Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 2725 – 2731, 2752-2754 – The Battle of Prayer

clock September 8, 2013 01:02 by author John |

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

Article 2

THE BATTLE OF PRAYER

2725 Prayer is both a gift of grace and a determined response on our part. It always presupposes effort. The great figures of prayer of the Old Covenant before Christ, as well as the Mother of God, the saints, and he himself, all teach us this: prayer is a battle. Against whom? Against ourselves and against the wiles of the tempter who does all he can to turn man away from prayer, away from union with God. We pray as we live, because we live as we pray. If we do not want to act habitually according to the Spirit of Christ, neither can we pray habitually in his name. The "spiritual battle" of the Christian's new life is inseparable from the battle of prayer.

I. Objections to Prayer

2726 In the battle of prayer, we must face in ourselves and around us erroneous notions of prayer. Some people view prayer as a simple psychological activity, others as an effort of concentration to reach a mental void. Still others reduce prayer to ritual words and postures. Many Christians unconsciously regard prayer as an occupation that is incompatible with all the other things they have to do: they "don't have the time." Those who seek God by prayer are quickly discouraged because they do not know that prayer comes also from the Holy Spirit and not from themselves alone.

2727 We must also face the fact that certain attitudes deriving from the mentality of "this present world" can penetrate our lives if we are not vigilant. For example, some would have it that only that is true which can be verified by reason and science; yet prayer is a mystery that overflows both our conscious and unconscious lives. Others overly prize production and profit; thus prayer, being unproductive, is useless. Still others exalt sensuality and comfort as the criteria of the true, the good, and the beautiful; whereas prayer, the "love of beauty" (philokalia), is caught up in the glory of the living and true God. Finally, some see prayer as a flight from the world in reaction against activism; but in fact, Christian prayer is neither an escape from reality nor a divorce from life.

2728 Finally, our battle has to confront what we experience as failure in prayer: discouragement during periods of dryness; sadness that, because we have "great possessions,"15 we have not given all to the Lord; disappointment over not being heard according to our own will; wounded pride, stiffened by the indignity that is ours as sinners; our resistance to the idea that prayer is a free and unmerited gift; and so forth. The conclusion is always the same: what good does it do to pray? To overcome these obstacles, we must battle to gain humility, trust, and perseverance.

II. Humble Vigilance of Heart

Facing difficulties in prayer

2729 The habitual difficulty in prayer is distraction. It can affect words and their meaning in vocal prayer; it can concern, more profoundly, him to whom we are praying, in vocal prayer (liturgical or personal), meditation, and contemplative prayer. To set about hunting down distractions would be to fall into their trap, when all that is necessary is to turn back to our heart: for a distraction reveals to us what we are attached to, and this humble awareness before the Lord should awaken our preferential love for him and lead us resolutely to offer him our heart to be purified. Therein lies the battle, the choice of which master to serve.16

2730 In positive terms, the battle against the possessive and dominating self requires vigilance, sobriety of heart. When Jesus insists on vigilance, he always relates it to himself, to his coming on the last day and every day: today. The bridegroom comes in the middle of the night; the light that must not be extinguished is that of faith: "'Come,' my heart says, 'seek his face!'"17

2731 Another difficulty, especially for those who sincerely want to pray, is dryness. Dryness belongs to contemplative prayer when the heart is separated from God, with no taste for thoughts, memories, and feelings, even spiritual ones. This is the moment of sheer faith clinging faithfully to Jesus in his agony and in his tomb. "Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if dies, it bears much fruit."18 If dryness is due to the lack of roots, because the word has fallen on rocky soil, the battle requires conversion.19

IN BRIEF

2752 Prayer presupposes an effort, a fight against ourselves and the wiles of the Tempter. The battle of prayer is inseparable from the necessary "spiritual battle" to act habitually according to the Spirit of Christ: we pray as we live, because we live as we pray.

2753 In the battle of prayer we must confront erroneous conceptions of prayer, various currents of thought, and our own experience of failure. We must respond with humility, trust, and perseverance to these temptations which cast doubt on the usefulness or even the possibility of prayer.

2754 The principal difficulties in the practice of prayer are distraction and dryness. The remedy lies in faith, conversion, and vigilance of heart.

In the “Summa Theologica” (Secunda Secundæ Partis, 83, 12), St. Thomas Aquinas discusses prayer and distraction as he ponders vocal prayer.

Article 12. Whether prayer should be vocal?

Objection 1. It would seem that prayer ought not to be vocal. As stated above (Article 4), prayer is addressed chiefly to God. Now God knows the language of the heart. Therefore it is useless to employ vocal prayer.

Objection 2. Further, prayer should lift man's mind to God, as stated above (1, ad 2). But words, like other sensible objects, prevent man from ascending to God by contemplation. Therefore we should not use words in our prayers.

Objection 3. Further, prayer should be offered to God in secret, according to Matthew 6:6, "But thou, when thou shalt pray, enter into thy chamber, and having shut the door, pray to thy Father in secret." But prayer loses its secrecy by being expressed vocally. Therefore prayer should not be vocal.

On the contrary, It is written (Psalm 141:2): "I cried to the Lord with my voice, with my voice I made supplication to the Lord."

I answer that, Prayer is twofold, common and individual. Common prayer is that which is offered to God by the ministers of the Church representing the body of the faithful: wherefore such like prayer should come to the knowledge of the whole people for whom it is offered: and this would not be possible unless it were vocal prayer. Therefore it is reasonably ordained that the ministers of the Church should say these prayers even in a loud voice, so that they may come to the knowledge of all.

On the other hand individual prayer is that which is offered by any single person, whether he pray for himself or for others; and it is not essential to such a prayer as this that it be vocal. And yet the voice is employed in such like prayers for three reasons. First, in order to excite interior devotion, whereby the mind of the person praying is raised to God, because by means of external signs, whether of words or of deeds, the human mind is moved as regards apprehension, and consequently also as regards the affections. Hence Augustine says (ad Probam. Ep. cxxx, 9) that "by means of words and other signs we arouse ourselves more effectively to an increase of holy desires." Hence then alone should we use words and such like signs when they help to excite the mind internally. But if they distract or in any way impede the mind we should abstain from them; and this happens chiefly to those whose mind is sufficiently prepared for devotion without having recourse to those signs. Wherefore the Psalmist (Psalm 26:8) said: "My heart hath said to Thee: 'My face hath sought Thee,'" and we read of Anna (1 Samuel 1:13) that "she spoke in her heart." Secondly, the voice is used in praying as though to pay a debt, so that man may serve God with all that he has from God, that is to say, not only with his mind, but also with his body: and this applies to prayer considered especially as satisfactory. Hence it is written (Hosea 14:3): "Take away all iniquity, and receive the good: and we will render the calves of our lips." Thirdly, we have recourse to vocal prayer, through a certain overflow from the soul into the body, through excess of feeling, according to Psalm 15:9, "My heart hath been glad, and my tongue hath rejoiced."

Reply to Objection 1. Vocal prayer is employed, not in order to tell God something He does not know, but in order to lift up the mind of the person praying or of other persons to God.

Reply to Objection 2. Words about other matters distract the mind and hinder the devotion of those who pray: but words signifying some object of devotion lift up the mind, especially one that is less devout.

Reply to Objection 3. As Chrysostom says [Hom. xiii in the Opus Imperfectum falsely ascribed to St. John Chrysostom], "Our Lord forbids one to pray in presence of others in order that one may be seen by others. Hence when you pray, do nothing strange to draw men's attention, either by shouting so as to be heard by others, or by openly striking the heart, or extending the hands, so as to be seen by many. And yet, "according to Augustine (De Serm. Dom. in Monte ii, 3), "it is not wrong to be seen by men, but to do this or that in order to be seen by men."

Footnotes

15 Cf. ⇒ Mk 10:22.
16 Cf. ⇒ Mt 6:21, ⇒ 24.
17 ⇒ PS 27:8.
18 ⇒ Jn 12:24.
19 Cf. ⇒ Lk 8:6, ⇒ 13.



Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 2709-2719, 2724 – Contemplative Prayer

clock September 7, 2013 01:02 by author John |

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

III. Contemplative Prayer

2709 What is contemplative prayer? St. Teresa answers: "Contemplative prayer [oracion mental] in my opinion is nothing else than a close sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with him who we know loves us."6
Contemplative prayer seeks him "whom my soul loves."7 It is Jesus, and in him, the Father. We seek him, because to desire him is always the beginning of love, and we seek him in that pure faith which causes us to be born of him and to live in him. In this inner prayer we can still meditate, but our attention is fixed on the Lord himself.

2710 The choice of the time and duration of the prayer arises from a determined will, revealing the secrets of the heart. One does not undertake contemplative prayer only when one has the time: one makes time for the Lord, with the firm determination not to give up, no matter what trials and dryness one may encounter. One cannot always meditate, but one can always enter into inner prayer, independently of the conditions of health, work, or emotional state. The heart is the place of this quest and encounter, in poverty and in faith.

2711 Entering into contemplative prayer is like entering into the Eucharistic liturgy: we "gather up:" the heart, recollect our whole being under the prompting of the Holy Spirit, abide in the dwelling place of the Lord which we are, awaken our faith in order to enter into the presence of him who awaits us. We let our masks fall and turn our hearts back to the Lord who loves us, so as to hand ourselves over to him as an offering to be purified and transformed.

2712 Contemplative prayer is the prayer of the child of God, of the forgiven sinner who agrees to welcome the love by which he is loved and who wants to respond to it by loving even more.8 But he knows that the love he is returning is poured out by the Spirit in his heart, for everything is grace from God. Contemplative prayer is the poor and humble surrender to the loving will of the Father in ever deeper union with his beloved Son.

2713 Contemplative prayer is the simplest expression of the mystery of prayer. It is a gift, a grace; it can be accepted only in humility and poverty. Contemplative prayer is a covenant relationship established by God within our hearts.9 Contemplative prayer is a communion in which the Holy Trinity conforms man, the image of God, "to his likeness."

2714 Contemplative prayer is also the pre-eminently intense time of prayer. In it the Father strengthens our inner being with power through his Spirit "that Christ may dwell in (our) hearts through faith" and we may be "grounded in love."10

2715 Contemplation is a gaze of faith, fixed on Jesus. "I look at him and he looks at me": this is what a certain peasant of Ars used to say to his holy cure about his prayer before the tabernacle. This focus on Jesus is a renunciation of self. His gaze purifies our heart; the light of the countenance of Jesus illumines the eyes of our heart and teaches us to see everything in the light of his truth and his compassion for all men. Contemplation also turns its gaze on the mysteries of the life of Christ. Thus it learns the "interior knowledge of our Lord," the more to love him and follow him.11

2716 Contemplative prayer is hearing the Word of God. Far from being passive, such attentiveness is the obedience of faith, the unconditional acceptance of a servant, and the loving commitment of a child. It participates in the "Yes" of the Son become servant and the Fiat of God's lowly handmaid.

2717 Contemplative prayer is silence, the "symbol of the world to come"12 or "silent love."13 Words in this kind of prayer are not speeches; they are like kindling that feeds the fire of love. In this silence, unbearable to the "outer" man, the Father speaks to us his incarnate Word, who suffered, died, and rose; in this silence the Spirit of adoption enables us to share in the prayer of Jesus.

2718 Contemplative prayer is a union with the prayer of Christ insofar as it makes us participate in his mystery. The mystery of Christ is celebrated by the Church in the Eucharist, and the Holy Spirit makes it come alive in contemplative prayer so that our charity will manifest it in our acts.

2719 Contemplative prayer is a communion of love bearing Life for the multitude, to the extent that it consents to abide in the night of faith. The Paschal night of the Resurrection passes through the night of the agony and the tomb - the three intense moments of the Hour of Jesus which his Spirit (and not "the flesh [which] is weak") brings to life in prayer. We must be willing to "keep watch with (him) one hour."14

IN BRIEF

2724 Contemplative prayer is the simple expression of the mystery of prayer. It is a gaze of faith fixed on Jesus, an attentiveness to the Word of God, a silent love. It achieves real union with the prayer of Christ to the extent that it makes us share in his mystery.

In the “Summa Theologica” (Secunda Secundæ Partis, 180, 1), St. Thomas Aquinas discusses contemplative prayer.

Article 1. Whether the contemplative life has nothing to do with the affections, and pertains wholly to the intellect?

Objection 1. It would seem that the contemplative life has nothing to do with the affections and pertains wholly to the intellect. For the Philosopher says (Metaph. ii, text. 3 [Ed Did. ia, 1) that "the end of contemplation is truth." Now truth pertains wholly to the intellect. Therefore it would seem that the contemplative life wholly regards the intellect.

Objection 2. Further, Gregory says (Moral. vi, 37; Hom. xix in Ezech.) that "Rachel, which is interpreted 'vision of the principle' [Or rather, 'One seeing the principle,' if derived from rah and irzn; Cf. Jerome, De Nom. Hebr.], signifies the contemplative life." Now the vision of a principle belongs properly to the intellect. Therefore the contemplative life belongs properly to the intellect.

Objection 3. Further, Gregory says (Hom. xiv in Ezech.) that it belongs to the contemplative life, "to rest from external action." Now the affective or appetitive power inclines to external actions. Therefore it would seem that the contemplative life has nothing to do with the appetitive power.

On the contrary, Gregory says (Hom. xiv in Ezech.) that "the contemplative life is to cling with our whole mind to the love of God and our neighbor, and to desire nothing beside our Creator." Now desire and love pertain to the affective or appetitive power, as stated above (I-II, 25, 2; I-II, 26, 2). Therefore the contemplative life has also something to do with the affective or appetitive power.

I answer that, As stated above (Question 179, Article 1) theirs is said to be the contemplative who are chiefly intent on the contemplation of truth. Now intention is an act of the will, as stated above (I-II, 12, 1), because intention is of the end which is the object of the will. Consequently the contemplative life, as regards the essence of the action, pertains to the intellect, but as regards the motive cause of the exercise of that action it belongs to the will, which moves all the other powers, even the intellect, to their actions, as stated above (I, 82, 4; I-II, 09, 1).

Now the appetitive power moves one to observe things either with the senses or with the intellect, sometimes for love of the thing seen because, as it is written (Matthew 6:21), "where thy treasure is, there is thy heart also," sometimes for love of the very knowledge that one acquires by observation. Wherefore Gregory makes the contemplative life to consist in the "love of God," inasmuch as through loving God we are aflame to gaze on His beauty. And since everyone delights when he obtains what he loves, it follows that the contemplative life terminates in delight, which is seated in the affective power, the result being that love also becomes more intense.

Reply to Objection 1. From the very fact that truth is the end of contemplation, it has the aspect of an appetible good, both lovable and delightful, and in this respect it pertains to the appetitive power.

Reply to Objection 2. We are urged to the vision of the first principle, namely God, by the love thereof; wherefore Gregory says (Hom. xiv in Ezech.) that "the contemplative life tramples on all cares and longs to see the face of its Creator."

Reply to Objection 3. The appetitive power moves not only the bodily members to perform external actions, but also the intellect to practice the act of contemplation, as stated above.

Footnotes

6 St. Teresa of Jesus, the Book of Her Life, 8, 5 in the Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila, tr. K. Kavanaugh, OCD, and O. Rodriguez, OCD (Washington DC: Institute of Carmelite Studies, 1976), I, 67.
7 ⇒ Song 1:7; cf. 3:14.
8 Cf. ⇒ Lk 7:36-50; ⇒ 19:1-10.
9 Cf. ⇒ Jer 31:33.
10 ⇒ Eph 3:16-17.
11 Cf. St. Ignatius of Loyola, Spiritual Exercises, 104.
12 Cf. St. Isaac of Nineveh, Tract. myst. 66.
13 St. John of the Cross, Maxims and Counsels, 53 in the Collected Works of St. John of the Cross, tr. K. Kavanaugh, OCD, and O. Rodriguez, OCD (Washington DC: Institute of Carmelite Studies, 1979), 678.
14 Cf. ⇒ Mt 26:40.



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 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 2623-2628, 2644-2645 – Prayer in the Age of the Church: Praise and Blessing

clock August 26, 2013 01:02 by author John |

Today’s Catechism sections discuss prayer in the age of the Church and the prayer of praise and blessing. Supporting material comes from the “Summa Theologica”

Article 3

IN THE AGE OF THE CHURCH

2623 On the day of Pentecost, the Spirit of the Promise was poured out on the disciples, gathered "together in one place."92 While awaiting the Spirit, "all these with one accord devoted themselves to prayer."93 The Spirit who teaches the Church and recalls for her everything that Jesus said94 was also to form her in the life of prayer.

2624 In the first community of Jerusalem, believers "devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and the prayers."95 This sequence is characteristic of the Church's prayer: founded on the apostolic faith; authenticated by charity; nourished in the Eucharist.

2625 In the first place these are prayers that the faithful hear and read in the Scriptures, but also that they make their own - especially those of the Psalms, in view of their fulfillment in Christ.96 The Holy Spirit, who thus keeps the memory of Christ alive in his Church at prayer, also leads her toward the fullness of truth and inspires new formulations expressing the unfathomable mystery of Christ at work in his Church's life, sacraments, and mission. These formulations are developed in the great liturgical and spiritual traditions. The forms of prayer revealed in the apostolic and canonical Scriptures remain normative for Christian prayer.

I. Blessing and Adoration

2626 Blessing expresses the basic movement of Christian prayer: it is an encounter between God and man. In blessing, God's gift and man's acceptance of it are united in dialogue with each other. The prayer of blessing is man's response to God's gifts: because God blesses, the human heart can in return bless the One who is the source of every blessing.

2627 TWO fundamental forms express this movement: our prayer ascends in the Holy Spirit through Christ to the Father - we bless him for having blessed us;97 it implores the grace of the Holy Spirit that descends through Christ from the Father - he blesses us.98

2628 Adoration is the first attitude of man acknowledging that he is a creature before his Creator. It exalts the greatness of the Lord who made us99 and the almighty power of the Savior who sets us free from evil. Adoration is homage of the spirit to the "King of Glory,"100 respectful silence in the presence of the "ever greater" God.101 Adoration of the thrice-holy and sovereign God of love blends with humility and gives assurance to our supplications.

IN BRIEF

2644 The Holy Spirit who teaches the Church and recalls to her all that Jesus said also instructs her in the life of prayer, inspiring new expressions of the same basic forms of prayer: blessing, petition, intercession, thanksgiving, and praise.

2645 Because God blesses the human heart, it can in return bless him who is the source of every blessing.

In the “Summa Theologica” (Secunda Secundæ Partis, 91, 1), St. Thomas Aquinas discusses the prayer of praise.

Article 1. Whether God should be praised with the lips?

Objection 1. It would seem that God should not be praised with the lips. The Philosopher says (Ethic. 1,12): "The best of men ere accorded not praise, but something greater." But God transcends the very best of all things. Therefore God ought to be given, not praise, but something greater than praise: wherefore He is said (Sirach 43:33) to be "above all praise."

Objection 2. Further, divine praise is part of divine worship, for it is an act of religion. Now God is worshiped with the mind rather than with the lips: wherefore our Lord quoted against certain ones the words of Isaiah 29:13, "This people . . . honors [Vulgate: 'glorifies'] Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me." Therefore the praise of God lies in the heart rather than on the lips.

Objection 3. Further, men are praised with the lips that they may be encouraged to do better: since just as being praised makes the wicked proud, so does it incite the good to better things. Wherefore it is written (Proverbs 27:21): "As silver is tried in the fining-pot . . . so a man is tried by the mouth of him that praiseth." But God is not incited to better things by man's words, both because He is unchangeable, and because He is supremely good, and it is not possible for Him to grow better. Therefore God should not be praised with the lips.

On the contrary, It is written (Psalm 62:6): "My mouth shall praise Thee with joyful lips."

I answer that, We use words, in speaking to God, for one reason, and in speaking to man, for another reason. For when speaking to man we use words in order to tell him our thoughts which are unknown to him. Wherefore we praise a man with our lips, in order that he or others may learn that we have a good opinion of him: so that in consequence we may incite him to yet better things; and that we may induce others, who hear him praised, to think well of him, to reverence him, and to imitate him. On the other hand we employ words, in speaking to God, not indeed to make known our thoughts to Him Who is the searcher of hearts, but that we may bring ourselves and our hearers to reverence Him.

Consequently we need to praise God with our lips, not indeed for His sake, but for our own sake; since by praising Him our devotion is aroused towards Him, according to Psalm 49:23: "The sacrifice of praise shall glorify Me, and there is the way by which I will show him the salvation of God." And forasmuch as man, by praising God, ascends in his affections to God, by so much is he withdrawn from things opposed to God, according to Isaiah 48:9, "For My praise I will bridle thee lest thou shouldst perish." The praise of the lips is also profitable to others by inciting their affections towards God, wherefore it is written (Psalm 33:2): "His praise shall always be in my mouth," and farther on: "Let the meek hear and rejoice. O magnify the Lord with me."

Reply to Objection 1. We may speak of God in two ways. First, with regard to His essence; and thus, since He is incomprehensible and ineffable, He is above all praise. On this respect we owe Him reverence and the honor of latria; wherefore Psalm 64:2 is rendered by Jerome in his Psalter [Translated from the Hebrew]: "Praise to Thee is speechless, O God," as regards the first, and as to the second, "A vow shall be paid to Thee." Secondly, we may speak of God as to His effects which are ordained for our good. On this respect we owe Him praise; wherefore it is written (Isaiah 63:7): "I will remember the tender mercies of the Lord, the praise of the Lord for all the things that the Lord hath bestowed upon us." Again, Dionysius says (Div. Nom. 1): "Thou wilt find that all the sacred hymns," i.e. divine praises "of the sacred writers, are directed respectively to the Blessed Processions of the Thearchy," i.e. of the Godhead, "showing forth and praising the names of God."

Reply to Objection 2. It profits one nothing to praise with the lips if one praise not with the heart. For the heart speaks God's praises when it fervently recalls "the glorious things of His works" [Cf. Sirach 17:7-8. Yet the outward praise of the lips avails to arouse the inward fervor of those who praise, and to incite others to praise God, as stated above.

Reply to Objection 3. We praise God, not for His benefit, but for ours as stated.

Footnotes

92 ⇒ Acts 2:1.
93 ⇒ Acts 1:14.
94 Cf. ⇒ Jn 14:26.
95 ⇒ Acts 2:42.
96 Cf. ⇒ Lk 24:27, ⇒ 44.
97 Cf. ]⇒ Eph 1:3-14; ⇒ 2 Cor 1:3 7; ⇒ 1 Pet 1:3-9.
98 Cf. 2 Cor 13:14; ⇒ Rom 15:5-6, ⇒ 13; ⇒ Eph 6:23-24.
99 Cf. ⇒ Ps 95:1-6.
100 ⇒ Ps 24, 9-10.



Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 2616-2619, 2622 – Jesus Hear our Prayer and the Prayer of the Virgin Mary

clock August 25, 2013 01:02 by author John |

Today’s Catechism sections discuss Jesus hearing our prayer and praying to the Blessed Mother. Supporting material comes from the “Summa Theologica”.

Jesus hears our prayer

2616 Prayer to Jesus is answered by him already during his ministry, through signs that anticipate the power of his death and Resurrection: Jesus hears the prayer of faith, expressed in words (the leper, Jairus, the Canaanite woman, the good thief)84 or in silence (the bearers of the paralytic, the woman with a hemorrhage who touches his clothes, the tears and ointment of the sinful woman).85 The urgent request of the blind men, "Have mercy on us, Son of David" or "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" has-been renewed in the traditional prayer to Jesus known as the Jesus Prayer: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!"86 Healing infirmities or forgiving sins, Jesus always responds to a prayer offered in faith: "Your faith has made you well; go in peace."

St. Augustine wonderfully summarizes the three dimensions of Jesus' prayer: "He prays for us as our priest, prays in us as our Head, and is prayed to by us as our God. Therefore let us acknowledge our voice in him and his in us."87

The prayer of the Virgin Mary

2617 Mary's prayer is revealed to us at the dawning of the fullness of time. Before the incarnation of the Son of God, and before the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, her prayer cooperates in a unique way with the Father's plan of loving kindness: at the Annunciation, for Christ's conception; at Pentecost, for the formation of the Church, his Body.88 In the faith of his humble handmaid, the Gift of God found the acceptance he had awaited from the beginning of time. She whom the Almighty made "full of grace" responds by offering her whole being: "Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be [done] to me according to your word." "Fiat": this is Christian prayer: to be wholly God's, because he is wholly ours.

2618 The Gospel reveals to us how Mary prays and intercedes in faith. At Cana,89 The mother of Jesus asks her son for the needs of a wedding feast; this is the sign of another feast - that of the wedding of the Lamb where he gives his body and blood at the request of the Church, his Bride. It is at the hour of the New Covenant, at the foot of the cross,90 that Mary is heard as the Woman, the new Eve, the true "Mother of all the living."

2619 That is why the Canticle of Mary,91 The Magnificat (Latin) or Megalynei (byzantine) is the song both of the Mother of God and of the Church; the song of the Daughter of Zion and of the new People of God; the song of thanksgiving for the fullness of graces poured out in the economy of salvation and the song of the "poor" whose hope is met by the fulfillment of the promises made to our ancestors, "to Abraham and to his posterity for ever."

IN BRIEF

2622 The prayers of the Virgin Mary, in her Fiat and Magnificat, are characterized by the generous offering of her whole being in faith.

In the “Summa Theologica” (Secunda Secundæ Partis, 83, 4), St. Thomas Aquinas discusses prayer to God and to the Saints.

Article 4. Whether we ought to pray to God alone?

Objection 1. It would seem that we ought to pray to God alone. Prayer is an act of religion, as stated above (Article 3). But God alone is to be worshiped by religion. Therefore we should pray to God alone.

Objection 2. Further, it is useless to pray to one who is ignorant of the prayer. But it belongs to God alone to know one's prayer, both because frequently prayer is uttered by an interior act which God alone knows, rather than by words, according to the saying of the Apostle (1 Corinthians 14:15), "I will pray with the spirit, I will pray also with the understanding": and again because, as Augustine says (De Cura pro mortuis xiii) the "dead, even the saints, know not what the living, even their own children, are doing." Therefore we ought to pray to God alone.

Objection 3. Further, if we pray to any of the saints, this is only because they are united to God. Now some yet living in this world, or even some who are in Purgatory, are closely united to God by grace, and yet we do not pray to them. Therefore neither should we pray to the saints who are in Paradise.

On the contrary, It is written (Job 5:1), "Call . . . if there be any that will answer thee, and turn to some of the saints."

I answer that, Prayer is offered to a person in two ways: first, as to be fulfilled by him, secondly, as to be obtained through him. On the first way we offer prayer to God alone, since all our prayers ought to be directed to the acquisition of grace and glory, which God alone gives, according to Psalm 83:12, "The Lord will give grace and glory." But in the second way we pray to the saints, whether angels or men, not that God may through them know our petitions, but that our prayers may be effective through their prayers and merits. Hence it is written (Apocalypse 8:4) that "the smoke of the incense," namely "the prayers of the saints ascended up before God." This is also clear from the very style employed by the Church in praying: since we beseech the Blessed Trinity "to have mercy on us," while we ask any of the saints "to pray for us."

Reply to Objection 1. To Him alone do we offer religious worship when praying, from Whom we seek to obtain what we pray for, because by so doing we confess that He is the Author of our goods: but not to those whom we call upon as our advocates in God's presence.

Reply to Objection 2. The dead, if we consider their natural condition, do not know what takes place in this world, especially the interior movements of the heart. Nevertheless, according to Gregory (Moral. xii, 21), whatever it is fitting the blessed should know about what happens to us, even as regards the interior movements of the heart, is made known to them in the Word: and it is most becoming to their exalted position that they should know the petitions we make to them by word or thought; and consequently the petitions which we raise to them are known to them through Divine manifestation.

Reply to Objection 3. Those who are in this world or in Purgatory, do not yet enjoy the vision of the Word, so as to be able to know what we think or say. Wherefore we do not seek their assistance by praying to them, but ask it of the living by speaking to them.

Footnotes

83 ⇒ Jn 16:24.
84 Cf. ⇒ Mk 1:40-41; ⇒ 5:36; ⇒ 7:29; Cf. ⇒ Lk 23:39-43.
85 Cf. Mk 25; ⇒ 5:28; ⇒ Lk 7:37-38.
86 ⇒ Mt 9:27, ⇒ Mk 10:48.
87 St. Augustine, En. in Ps. 85, 1: PL 37, 1081; cf. GILH 7.
88 Cf. ⇒ Lk 1:38; ⇒ Acts 1:14.
89 Cf. ⇒ Jn 2:1-12.
90 Cf. ⇒ Jn 19:25-27.
91 Cf. ⇒ Lk 1:46-55.



Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 2598-2606, 2620 – Jesus’ Prayer

clock August 23, 2013 01:02 by author John |

Today’s Catechism sections discuss Jesus’s prayers. Supporting material comes from the “Summa Theologica”.

Article 2

IN THE FULLNESS OF TIME

2598 The drama of prayer is fully revealed to us in the Word who became flesh and dwells among us. To seek to understand his prayer through what his witnesses proclaim to us in the Gospel is to approach the holy Lord Jesus as Moses approached the burning bush: first to contemplate him in prayer, then to hear how he teaches us to pray, in order to know how he hears our prayer.

Jesus prays

2599 The Son of God who became Son of the Virgin learned to pray in his human heart. He learns to pray from his mother, who kept all the great things the Almighty had done and treasured them in her heart.41 He learns to pray in the words and rhythms of the prayer of his people, in the synagogue at Nazareth and the Temple at Jerusalem. But his prayer springs from an otherwise secret source, as he intimates at the age of twelve: "I must be in my Father's house."42 Here the newness of prayer in the fullness of time begins to be revealed: his filial prayer, which the Father awaits from his children, is finally going to be lived out by the only Son in his humanity, with and for men.

2600 The Gospel according to St. Luke emphasizes the action of the Holy Spirit and the meaning of prayer in Christ's ministry. Jesus prays before the decisive moments of his mission: before his Father's witness to him during his baptism and Transfiguration, and before his own fulfillment of the Father's plan of love by his Passion.43 He also prays before the decisive moments involving the mission of his apostles: at his election and call of the Twelve, before Peter's confession of him as "the Christ of God," and again that the faith of the chief of the Apostles may not fail when tempted.44 Jesus' prayer before the events of salvation that the Father has asked him to fulfill is a humble and trusting commitment of his human will to the loving will of the Father.

2601 "He was praying in a certain place and when he had ceased, one of his disciples said to him, 'Lord, teach us to pray."'45 In seeing the Master at prayer the disciple of Christ also wants to pray. By contemplating and hearing the Son, the master of prayer, the children learn to pray to the Father.

2602 Jesus often draws apart to pray in solitude, on a mountain, preferably at night.46 He includes all men in his prayer, for he has taken on humanity in his incarnation, and he offers them to the Father when he offers himself. Jesus, the Word who has become flesh, shares by his human prayer in all that "his brethren" experience; he sympathizes with their weaknesses in order to free them.47 It was for this that the Father sent him. His words and works are the visible manifestation of his prayer in secret.

2603 The evangelists have preserved two more explicit prayers offered by Christ during his public ministry. Each begins with thanksgiving. In the first, Jesus confesses the Father, acknowledges, and blesses him because he has hidden the mysteries of the Kingdom from those who think themselves learned and has revealed them to infants, the poor of the Beatitudes.48 His exclamation, "Yes, Father!" expresses the depth of his heart, his adherence to the Father's "good pleasure," echoing his mother's Fiat at the time of his conception and prefiguring what he will say to the Father in his agony. The whole prayer of Jesus is contained in this loving adherence of his human heart to the mystery of the will of the Father.49

2604 The second prayer, before the raising of Lazarus, is recorded by St. John.50 Thanksgiving precedes the event: "Father, I thank you for having heard me," which implies that the Father always hears his petitions. Jesus immediately adds: "I know that you always hear me," which implies that Jesus, on his part, constantly made such petitions. Jesus' prayer, characterized by thanksgiving, reveals to us how to ask: before the gift is given, Jesus commits himself to the One who in giving gives himself. The Giver is more precious than the gift; he is the "treasure"; in him abides his Son's heart; the gift is given "as well."51

The priestly prayer of Jesus holds a unique place in the economy of salvation.52 A meditation on it will conclude Section One. It reveals the ever present prayer of our High Priest and, at the same time, contains what he teaches us about our prayer to our Father, which will be developed in Section Two.

2605 When the hour had come for him to fulfill the Father's plan of love, Jesus allows a glimpse of the boundless depth of his filial prayer, not only before he freely delivered himself up (“Abba . . . not my will, but yours."),53 but even in his last words on the Cross, where prayer and the gift of self are but one: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do",54 "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise",55 "Woman, behold your son" - "Behold your mother",56 "I thirst.";57 "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?"58 "It is finished";59 "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!"60 until the "loud cry" as he expires, giving up his spirit.61

2606 All the troubles, for all time, of humanity enslaved by sin and death, all the petitions and intercessions of salvation history are summed up in this cry of the incarnate Word. Here the Father accepts them and, beyond all hope, answers them by raising his Son. Thus is fulfilled and brought to completion the drama of prayer in the economy of creation and salvation. The Psalter gives us the key to prayer in Christ. In the "today" of the Resurrection the Father says: "You are my Son, today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession."62

The Letter to the Hebrews expresses in dramatic terms how the prayer of Jesus accomplished the victory of salvation: "In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard for his godly fear. Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered, and being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him."63

IN BRIEF

2620 Jesus' filial prayer is the perfect model of prayer in the New Testament. Often done in solitude and in secret, the prayer of Jesus involves a loving adherence to the will of the Father even to the Cross and an absolute confidence in being heard.

In the Summa Theologica, (Tertia Pars, 21 ,1), Jesus’ prayer is discussed.

Article 1. Whether it is becoming of Christ to pray?

Objection 1. It would seem unbecoming that Christ should pray. For, as Damascene says (De Fide Orth. iii, 24), "prayer is the asking for becoming things from God." But since Christ could do all things, it does not seem becoming to Him to ask anything from anyone. Therefore it does not seem fitting that Christ should pray.

Objection 2. Further, we need not ask in prayer for what we know for certain will happen; thus, we do not pray that the sun may rise tomorrow. Nor is it fitting that anyone should ask in prayer for what he knows will not happen. But Christ in all things knew what would happen. Therefore it was not fitting that He should ask anything in prayer.

Objection 3. Further, Damascene says (De Fide Orth. iii, 24) that "prayer is the raising up of the mind to God." Now Christ's mind needed no uplifting to God, since His mind was always united to God, not only by the union of the hypostasis, but by the fruition of beatitude. Therefore it was not fitting that Christ should pray.

On the contrary, It is written (Luke 6:12): "And it came to pass in those days, that He went out into a mountain, and He passed the whole night in the prayer of God."

I answer that, As was said in the II-II, 83, 1,2, prayer is the unfolding of our will to God, that He may fulfill it. If, therefore, there had been but one will in Christ, viz. the Divine, it would nowise belong to Him to pray, since the Divine will of itself is effective of whatever He wishes by it, according to Psalm 134:6: "Whatsoever the Lord pleased, He hath done." But because the Divine and the human wills are distinct in Christ, and the human will of itself is not efficacious enough to do what it wishes, except by Divine power, hence to pray belongs to Christ as man and as having a human will.

Reply to Objection 1. Christ as God and not as man was able to carry out all He wished, since as man He was not omnipotent, as stated above (13, 1). Nevertheless being both God and man, He wished to offer prayers to the Father, not as though He were incompetent, but for our instruction. First, that He might show Himself to be from the Father; hence He says (John 11:42): "Because of the people who stand about I have said it" (i.e. the words of the prayer) "that they may believe that Thou hast sent Me." Hence Hilary says (De Trin. x): "He did not need prayer. It was for us He prayed, lest the Son should be unknown." Secondly, to give us an example of prayer; hence Ambrose says (on Luke 6:12): "Be not deceived, nor think that the Son of God prays as a weakling, in order to beseech what He cannot effect. For the Author of power, the Master of obedience persuades us to the precepts of virtue by His example." Hence Augustine says (Tract. civ in Joan.): "Our Lord in the form of a servant could have prayed in silence, if need be, but He wished to show Himself a suppliant of the Father, in such sort as to bear in mind that He was our Teacher."

Reply to Objection 2. Amongst the other things which He knew would happen, He knew that some would be brought about by His prayer; and for these He not unbecomingly besought God.

Reply to Objection 3. To rise is nothing more than to move towards what is above. Now movement is taken in two ways, as is said De Anima iii, 7; first, strictly, according as it implies the passing from potentiality to act, inasmuch as it is the act of something imperfect, and thus to rise pertains to what is potentially and not actually above. Now in this sense, as Damascene says (De Fide Orth. iii, 24), "the human mind of Christ did not need to rise to God, since it was ever united to God both by personal being and by the blessed vision." Secondly, movement signifies the act of something perfect, i.e. something existing in act, as to understand and to feel are called movements; and in this sense the mind of Christ was always raised up to God, since He was always contemplating Him as existing above Himself.

Footnotes

41 Cf. ⇒ Lk 1:49; ⇒ 2:19; ⇒ 2:51.
42 ⇒ Lk 2:49.
43 Cf. ⇒ Lk 3:21; ⇒ 9:28; ⇒ 22:41-44.
44 Cf. ⇒ Lk 6:12; ⇒ 9:18-20; ⇒ 22:32.
45 ⇒ Lk 11:1.
46 Cf. ⇒ Mk 1:35; ⇒ 6:46; ⇒ Lk 5:16.
47 Cf. ⇒ Heb 2:12, ⇒ 15; ⇒ 4:15.
48 Cf. ⇒ Mt 11:25-27 and ⇒ Lk 10:21-23.
49 Cf. ⇒ Eph 1:9.
50 Cf. ⇒ Jn 11:41-42.
51 ⇒ Mt 6:21, ⇒ 33.
52 Cf. ⇒ Jn 17.
53 ⇒ Lk 22:42.
54 ⇒ Lk 23:34.
55 ⇒ Lk 23:43.
56 ⇒ Jn 19:26-27.
57 ⇒ Jn 19:28.
58 ⇒ Mk 15:34; cf. ⇒ Ps 22:2.
59 ⇒ Jn 19:30.
60 ⇒ Lk 23:46.
61 Cf. ⇒ Mk 15:37; ⇒ Jn 19:30b.
62 ⇒ Ps 2:7-8; cf. ⇒ Acts 13:33.
63 ⇒ Heb 5:7-9.
64 Cf. ⇒ Mt 5:23-24, ⇒ 44-45; ⇒ 6:7, ⇒ 14-15, ⇒ 21, ⇒ 25, ⇒ 33.