“And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”
Prayer for our Nation (U.S.A)
God our Father,
Giver of life,
we entrust the United States of America to Your loving care.
You are the rock on which this nation was founded.
You alone are the true source of our cherished rights to life,
liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Reclaim this land for Your glory and dwell among Your people.
Send Your Spirit to touch the hearts of our nation´s leaders.
Open their minds to the great worth of human life and the responsibilities
that accompany human freedom.
Remind Your people that true happiness is rooted in
Seeking and doing Your will.
Through the intercession of Mary Immaculate,
Patroness of our land, grant us the courage to reject the “culture of death.”
Lead us into a new millennium of life.
We ask this through Christ Our Lord.
O God, protector of those who hope in you,
without whom nothing has firm foundation
nothing is holy,
bestow in abundance your mercy upon us
and grant that, with you as our ruler and guide,
we may use the good things that pass
in such a way as to hold fast even now
to those that ever endure.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity
of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
Reading 1 Gn 18:20-32
In those days, the LORD said: “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great,
and their sin so grave,
that I must go down and see whether or not their actions
fully correspond to the cry against them that comes to me.
I mean to find out.”
While Abraham’s visitors walked on farther toward Sodom,
the LORD remained standing before Abraham.
Then Abraham drew nearer and said:
“Will you sweep away the innocent with the guilty?
Suppose there were fifty innocent people in the city;
would you wipe out the place, rather than spare it
for the sake of the fifty innocent people within it?
Far be it from you to do such a thing,
to make the innocent die with the guilty
so that the innocent and the guilty would be treated alike!
Should not the judge of all the world act with justice?”
The LORD replied,
“If I find fifty innocent people in the city of Sodom,
I will spare the whole place for their sake.”
Abraham spoke up again:
“See how I am presuming to speak to my Lord,
though I am but dust and ashes!
What if there are five less than fifty innocent people?
Will you destroy the whole city because of those five?”
He answered, “I will not destroy it, if I find forty-five there.”
But Abraham persisted, saying “What if only forty are found there?”
He replied, “I will forbear doing it for the sake of the forty.”
Then Abraham said, “Let not my Lord grow impatient if I go on.
What if only thirty are found there?”
He replied, “I will forbear doing it if I can find but thirty there.”
Still Abraham went on,
“Since I have thus dared to speak to my Lord,
what if there are no more than twenty?”
The LORD answered, “I will not destroy it, for the sake of the twenty.”
But he still persisted:
“Please, let not my Lord grow angry if I speak up this last time.
What if there are at least ten there?”
He replied, “For the sake of those ten, I will not destroy it.”
CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)
CCC 343 Man is the summit of the Creator’s work, as the inspired account expresses by clearly distinguishing the creation of man from that of the other creatures.1
CCC 1867 The catechetical tradition also recalls that there are “sins that cry to heaven”: the blood of Abel,2 the sin of the Sodomites,3 the cry of the people oppressed in Egypt,4 the cry of the foreigner, the widow, and the orphan,5 injustice to the wage earner.6
CCC 2571 Because Abraham believed in God and walked in his presence and in covenant with him,7 the patriarch is ready to welcome a mysterious Guest into his tent. Abraham’s remarkable hospitality at Mamre foreshadows the annunciation of the true Son of the promise.8 After that, once God had confided his plan, Abraham’s heart is attuned to his Lord’s compassion for men and he dares to intercede for them with bold confidence.9
1 Cf. Gen 1-26.
2 Cf. Gen 4:10.
3 Cf. Gen 18:20; 19:13.
4 Cf. Ex 3:7-10.
5 Cf. Ex 20:20-22.
6 Cf. Deut 24:14-15; Jas 5:4.
7 Cf. Gen 15:6; 17:1 f.
8 Cf. Gen 18:1-15; Lk 1:26-38.
9 Cf. Gen 18:16-33.
The first lesson we can learn from this episode is the power of intercessory prayer. We can pray for others and God will hear and answer our prayers. Abraham has left us a wonderful example of love of neighbor. He did not wish to see the people of those cities suddenly sent to their death. He pleaded for them and he used God’s own justice as a lever to move him from his resolve. How could the just God condemn the innocent with the wicked? If only ten just men had been found in them, the cities and their inhabitants would have been saved, saved by Abraham’s intercession.
How often do we pray for our neighbors when they are in temporal or spiritual danger or difficulties? Most of us can answer truthfully and admit that we do not do so half as often as we should. We entreat God when we ourselves are in need, but God will be much more ready to answer us in our need if we have proved true brothers to our fellowman by pleading for them when they need the divine assistance.
We can learn another valuable lesson, also, from this story. The presence of a group of pious people in our midst, people who are close to God, is a guarantee that we shall be protected from the divine vengeance which we may have thoroughly deserved. There are Catholics who question the purpose of enclosed communities of women or men who devote all their time to prayer and the liturgy. Why don’t they teach or nurse, or earn their bread in some way? Why should the people have to support them? These were the very sentiments expressed by the Reformers when they knocked down the convents in England and banished the sisters. Some Catholics are still of this opinion today.
They forget, however, that the prayers of these devout lovers of God have often saved them from the temporal punishments that they deserve. The contemplatives are the spiritual lightning-conductors in our parishes and towns. They sacrifice their personal freedom and enclose themselves for life behind their convent walls in order to intercede for all sinners, for all of us.
Instead of criticizing them and questioning their sanity, we should thank God for them and pray that they will never be short of vocations–new members in their communities who will continue their good work. The parish or the town that has a community of enclosed religious has a divine blessing in its midst. It has a power-house of prayer which will spread the light of God’s grace amongst the citizens of that town and parish, and will turn away the just wrath of God from those who, by their sins, deserve it. “For the sake of those ten innocent people,” said the Lord to Abraham, “I will not destroy the cities.”
Imitate Abraham’s true, unselfish love of neighbor by always remembering your needy neighbor in your prayers. Help to protect your city and your fellow citizens, by a special prayer today for an increase in the number of just men living in it.
Ps 138:1-2, 2-3, 6-7, 7-8
Lord, on the day I called for help, you answered me.
I will give thanks to you, O LORD, with all my heart,
for you have heard the words of my mouth;
in the presence of the angels I will sing your praise;
I will worship at your holy temple
and give thanks to your name.
Lord, on the day I called for help, you answered me.
Because of your kindness and your truth;
for you have made great above all things
your name and your promise.
When I called you answered me;
you built up strength within me.
Lord, on the day I called for help, you answered me.
The LORD is exalted, yet the lowly he sees,
and the proud he knows from afar.
Though I walk amid distress, you preserve me;
against the anger of my enemies you raise your hand.
Lord, on the day I called for help, you answered me.
Your right hand saves me.
The LORD will complete what he has done for me;
your kindness, O LORD, endures forever;
forsake not the work of your hands.
Lord, on the day I called for help, you answered me.
Brothers and sisters:
You were buried with him in baptism,
in which you were also raised with him
through faith in the power of God,
who raised him from the dead.
And even when you were dead
in transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh,
he brought you to life along with him,
having forgiven us all our transgressions;
obliterating the bond against us, with its legal claims,
which was opposed to us,
he also removed it from our midst, nailing it to the cross.
CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)
CCC 527 Jesus’ circumcision, on the eighth day after his birth,1 is the sign of his incorporation into Abraham’s descendants, into the people of the covenant. It is the sign of his submission to the Law2 and his deputation to Israel’s worship, in which he will participate throughout his life. This sign prefigures that “circumcision of Christ” which is Baptism.3
CCC 628 Baptism, the original and full sign of which is immersion, efficaciously signifies the descent into the tomb by the Christian who dies to sin with Christ in order to live a new life. “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”4
CCC 1002 Christ will raise us up “on the last day”; but it is also true that, in a certain way, we have already risen with Christ. For, by virtue of the Holy Spirit, Christian life is already now on earth a participation in the death and Resurrection of Christ:
And you were buried with him in Baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead. .. If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.5
CCC 1214 This sacrament is called Baptism, after the central rite by which it is carried out: to baptize (Greek baptizein) means to “plunge” or “immerse”; the “plunge” into the water symbolizes the catechumen’s burial into Christ’s death, from which he rises up by resurrection with him, as “a new creature.”6
CCC 1227 According to the Apostle Paul, the believer enters through Baptism into communion with Christ’s death, is buried with him, and rises with him:
Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.7
The baptized have “put on Christ.”8 Through the Holy Spirit, Baptism is a bath that purifies, justifies, and sanctifies.9
CCC 1694 Incorporated into Christ by Baptism, Christians are “dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” and so participate in the life of the Risen Lord.10 Following Christ and united with him,11 Christians can strive to be “imitators of God as beloved children, and walk in love”12 by conforming their thoughts, words and actions to the “mind. .. which is yours in Christ Jesus,”13 and by following his example.14
1 Cf. Lk 2:21.
2 Cf. Gal 4:4.
3 Cf. Col 2:11-13.
4 Rom 6:4; cf. Col 2:12; Eph 5:26.
5 Col 2:12; 3:1.
6 2 Cor 5:17; Gal 6:15; Cf. Rom 6:34; Col 2:12.
7 Rom 6:3-4; cf. Col 2:12.
8 Gal 3:27.
9 CE 1 Cor 6:11; 12:13.
10 Rom 6:11 and cf. 6:5; cf. Col 2:12.
11 Cf. Jn 15:5.
12 Eph 5:1-2.
13 Phil 2:5.
14 Cf. Jn 13:12-16.
How can we ever thank God for all he has done for us! Eternity itself will not be long enough for us to sing him our full hymn of gratitude. He created us and gave us wonderful gifts. We abused his gifts, and went so far as to use the very gifts he gave us to insult him. He had planned to make us heirs to heaven, but we were more interested in this fleeting world. We lost interest in his plans for our good. Nevertheless, he did not lose interest in us. He sent his divine Son on earth to take our human nature and thus gather the whole human race into himself, thereby making us sons of his heavenly Father.
If the Incarnation had not taken place we could never reach heaven. Mere man could never of himself become a citizen of that kingdom to which his nature gave him no claim. An alien, coming to live in a country not his by birth, needs a special act, a gratuitous act on the part of that country, to become its citizen. Similarly man, a native of earth, needed a special gratuitous act on the part of God to make him a citizen of heaven.
This is what the Incarnation did for us. The Son of God deigned to share our humanity with us. We are thus enabled to share his divinity with him. We have been given the citizenship of heaven. The conferring of that citizenship on us takes place in baptism as arranged by Christ. In baptism we die with Christ. That means that we cast off the man of flesh, the mere mortal man of this earth, and rise from the baptismal waters, clothed with divinity, because Christ has made us one with him, who is God and Man.
Of course, we are not yet in heaven. But we have a heavenly passport: we have the right to get there, and what is more we have been given in abundance the means of getting there. Christ saw to that. He knew our weaknesses. He provided us with his Church to which he gave and gives, his sacraments. He also gives, through the Holy Spirit, the divine assistance which will ensure for us a safe journey.
How truly fortunate we followers of Christ are! We have a passport, a ticket from him. We have sufficient means to pay for all our needs on the journey homewards. Let us thank God from our hearts this morning, for his infinite kindness to us. Let us turn our thoughts for a moment to our unfortunate fellowman, who are also brothers of Christ and heirs to heaven. They are also brothers of ours. They either do not know God and all that he has done for them, or, worse still, they know him but despise him and his gifts. Thus, they are seriously risking their own future happiness. God wants them all in heaven. Christ died for all. The heavenly citizenship is there for all, though it cannot be forced on any man.
We can do much to help these brothers of ours. To do so will be the best way we can show our appreciation of God’s goodness to us, the best way to prove our gratitude. Prayer is a way of helping that is open to all, young and old, rich and poor. Every day of our lives, we should beg God to put a knowledge of his infinite love into the hearts of those who do not have it. When we need some temporal favor for ourselves, the best way we can pray for it is to forget our little needs and to pray instead for this most essential need of the neighbor who does not know God, and is jeopardizing his future–his eternal future. God will, in his own way and his own time, answer that prayer of true charity. Our temporal needs will not be forgotten either.
Most of us can help by cooperating financially and otherwise with those who are giving their lives to spreading the knowledge of God and his goodness among the pagans, old and new. We have many of the latter right in our midst. Each one of us can find a way to get this knowledge to those nearest him. For those living in their own pagan countries, we can, besides praying, help to support the generous men and women who have gone to these lands and are doing God’s work, and our work there for us.
Finally, if each one of us would give the good example of a Christian life, Christ would soon have more followers. We would show that our Christian life is lived by one who appreciates it; by one who realizes that he is on the way to heaven and that he will not allow earthly attractions or earthly trials to impede his journey.
All I can do is one man’s part. However, I am ready to do that much. I hope that many others will follow suit. God grant that it may be so.
Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished,
one of his disciples said to him,
“Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.”
He said to them, “When you pray, say:
Father, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread
and forgive us our sins
for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us,
and do not subject us to the final test.”
And he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend
to whom he goes at midnight and says,
‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread,
for a friend of mine has arrived at my house from a journey
and I have nothing to offer him,’
and he says in reply from within,
‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked
and my children and I are already in bed.
I cannot get up to give you anything.’
I tell you,
if he does not get up to give the visitor the loaves
because of their friendship,
he will get up to give him whatever he needs
because of his persistence.
“And I tell you, ask and you will receive;
seek and you will find;
knock and the door will be opened to you.
For everyone who asks, receives;
and the one who seeks, finds;
and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
What father among you would hand his son a snake
when he asks for a fish?
Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg?
If you then, who are wicked,
know how to give good gifts to your children,
how much more will the Father in heaven
give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?”
CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)
CCC 385 God is infinitely good and all his works are good. Yet no one can escape the experience of suffering or the evils in nature which seem to be linked to the limitations proper to creatures: and above all to the question of moral evil. Where does evil come from? “I sought whence evil comes and there was no solution”, said St. Augustine,1 and his own painful quest would only be resolved by his conversion to the living God. For “the mystery of lawlessness” is clarified only in the light of the “mystery of our religion”.2 The revelation of divine love in Christ manifested at the same time the extent of evil and the superabundance of grace.3 We must therefore approach the question of the origin of evil by fixing the eyes of our faith on him who alone is its conqueror.4
CCC 443 Peter could recognize the transcendent character of the Messiah’s divine sonship because Jesus had clearly allowed it to be so understood. To his accusers’ question before the Sanhedrin, “Are you the Son of God, then?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am.”5 Well before this, Jesus referred to himself as “the Son” who knows the Father, as distinct from the “servants” God had earlier sent to his people; he is superior even to the angels.6 He distinguished his sonship from that of his disciples by never saying “our Father”, except to command them: “You, then, pray like this: ‘Our Father’”, and he emphasized this distinction, saying “my Father and your Father”.7
CCC 520 In all of his life Jesus presents himself as our model. He is “the perfect man”,8 who invites us to become his disciples and follow him. In humbling himself, he has given us an example to imitate, through his prayer he draws us to pray, and by his poverty he calls us to accept freely the privation and persecutions that may come our way.9
CCC 700 The finger. “It is by the finger of God that [Jesus] cast out demons.”10 If God’s law was written on tablets of stone “by the finger of God,” then the “letter from Christ” entrusted to the care of the apostles, is written “with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of human hearts.”11 The hymn Veni Creator Spiritus invokes the Holy Spirit as the “finger of the Father’s right hand.”12
CCC 728 Jesus does not reveal the Holy Spirit fully, until he himself has been glorified through his Death and Resurrection. Nevertheless, little by little he alludes to him even in his teaching of the multitudes, as when he reveals that his own flesh will be food for the life of the world.13 He also alludes to the Spirit in speaking to Nicodemus,14 to the Samaritan woman,15 and to those who take part in the feast of Tabernacles.16 To his disciples he speaks openly of the Spirit in connection with prayer17 and with the witness they will have to bear.18
CCC 1425 “You were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.”19 One must appreciate the magnitude of the gift God has given us in the sacraments of Christian initiation in order to grasp the degree to which sin is excluded for him who has “put on Christ.”20 But the apostle John also says: “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”21 And the Lord himself taught us to pray: “Forgive us our trespasses,”22 linking our forgiveness of one another’s offenses to the forgiveness of our sins that God will grant us.
CCC 1969 The New Law practices the acts of religion: almsgiving, prayer and fasting, directing them to the “Father who sees in secret,” in contrast with the desire to “be seen by men.”23 Its prayer is the Our Father.24
CCC 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.”’25 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.
CCC 2613 Three principal parables on prayer are transmitted to us by St. Luke:
– The first, “the importunate friend,”26 invites us to urgent prayer: “Knock, and it will be opened to you.” To the one who prays like this, the heavenly Father will “give whatever he needs,” and above all the Holy Spirit who contains all gifts.
– The second, “the importunate widow,”27 is centered on one of the qualities of prayer: it is necessary to pray always without ceasing and with the patience of faith. “And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
– The third parable, “the Pharisee and the tax collector,”28 concerns the humility of the heart that prays. “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” The Church continues to make this prayer its own: Kyrie eleison!
CCC 2632 Christian petition is centered on the desire and search for the Kingdom to come, in keeping with the teaching of Christ.29 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.30 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.31 By prayer every baptized person works for the coming of the Kingdom.
CCC 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.32 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.33 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.34
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.35
CCC 2759 Jesus “was praying at a certain place, and when he ceased, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.’”36 In response to this request the Lord entrusts to his disciples and to his Church the fundamental Christian prayer. St. Luke presents a brief text of five petitions,37 while St. Matthew gives a more developed version of seven petitions.38 The liturgical tradition of the Church has retained St. Matthew’s text:
Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us,
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
1 St. Augustine, Conf. 7,7,11: PL 32,739.
2 2 Thess 2:7; 1 Tim 3:16.
3 Cf. Rom 5:20.
4 Cf. Lk 11:21-22; Jn 16:11; 1 Jn 3:8.
5 Lk 22:70; cf. Mt 26:64; Mk 14:61-62.
6 Cf. Mt 11:27; 21:34-38; 24:36.
7 Mt 5:48; 6:8-9; 7:21; Lk 11:13; Jn 20:17.
8 GS 38; cf. Rom 1 5:5; Phil 2:5.
9 Cf. Jn 13:15; Lk 11:1; Mt 5:11-12.
10 Lk 11:20.
11 Ex 31:18; 2 Cor 3:3.
12 LH, Easter Season after Ascension, Hymn at Vespers: digitus paternae dexterae.
13 Cf. Jn 6:27, 51, 62-63.
14 Cf. Jn 3:5-8.
15 Cf. Jn 4:10, 14, 23-24.
16 Cf. Jn 7:37-39.
17 Cf. Lk 11:13.
18 Cf. Mt 10:19-20.
19 1 Cor 6:11.
20 Gal 3:27.
21 1 Jn 1:8.
22 Cf. Lk 11:4; Mt 6:12.
23 Cf. Mt 6:1-6; 16-18.
24 Cf. Mt 6:9-13; Lk 11:2-4.
25 Lk 11:1.
26 Cf. Lk 11:5-13.
27 Cf. Lk 18:1-8.
28 Cf. Lk 18:9-14.
29 Cf. Mt 6:10, 33; Lk 11:2,13.
30 Cf. Acts 6:6; 13:3.
31 Cf. Rom 10:1; Eph 1:16-23; Phil 1911; Col 1:3-6; 4:3-4, 12.
32 Cf. Lk 11:13.
33 Cf. Jn 14:17; 15:26; 16:13.
34 Roman Missal, Pentecost Sequence.
35 Byzantine Liturgy, Pentecost Vespers, Troparion.
36 Lk 11:1.
37 Cf. Lk 11:2-4.
38 Cf. Mt 6:9-13.
The disciples asked to be taught how to pray to God. Jesus told them how. He gave them a formula which contains the essence of all prayer. God is addressed as our Father. He really is, since he made his Son our brother. We praise and honor him and wish that all will honor him. Then we ask for our daily, temporal needs, and especially for our spiritual needs. We ask forgiveness of all our offenses, while we likewise promise to forgive our brothers if they offend us.
Jesus then went on to stress the necessity of perseverance in our prayers. We must honor God daily and pray that all will honor him. We must also keep on asking for our temporal and spiritual needs. This is the meaning of the parable. The Father may delay the granting of our request because he wants us to continue to trust in him. This very perseverance in our prayer is bringing us closer and making us dearer to God. This is a greater blessing for us than the favor for which we were asking.
As regards requests for help in our spiritual life, we can rest assured that, if God delays his answer, the reason is that he has some more important spiritual gift for us. Our perseverance in prayer will bring it to us. Many great saints often wondered why God did not answer their fervent prayers and remove some temptation, or some lack of virtue which they felt was impeding their progress. They found out later that it was because God was slow in granting their requests that they actually progressed in sanctity.
As far as temporal favors are concerned, we do not always know what is best for us. God does. Of this we can be sure: if our requests for temporal favors are sincere and persevering, we are sure to get an answer. Christ himself says so. The answer, however, may not always be what we asked. If not, it will be something better, something we do not even know we need. God knows it and gives it to us, instead of the less essential gift we were asking for.
Looking back over our lives, many of us can see now how fortunate we were that some of the favors we sought so fervently from God in our youth were not given us. He gave us instead some gift which we had not even thought of, but which changed the course of our lives and saved us from the tribulations, spiritual and temporal, which the gift we were so anxiously seeking would have caused us, if God had granted it. There are thousands of men and women in heaven today who would not be there had God granted them the temporal favors they thought they needed so badly. One of our joys in heaven, among the lesser ones perhaps, will be in discovering how cleverly our heavenly Father helped us to get there by refusing certain of our requests, and by giving us others for which we had not asked.
Not only, therefore, may we, but we must, ask our heavenly Father for our spiritual and temporal needs. This we are told to do by Christ. We must continue to ask. He has put us in this world in order to earn heaven. Our life here is of its very nature a journey. All journeys entail some, and often many, hardships. For one on his way home, the journey’s hardships are bearable. For some they may at times border on the unbearable, but such people can turn to their heavenly Father. He has a personal knowledge of, and interest in, each individual’s progress. Ask him to remove the cross, for the time being at least. Loving Father that he is, he will do just that, or he will strengthen the shoulder that has to bear it.
Remember our Lord’s advice to us: “Ask and you shall receive, seek and you will find, knock and it shall be opened to you.
Applications written by Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan O.F.M. and used with permission from Franciscan Press
In teaching his disciples to pray, Jesus told them to say “Our Father.” (Mt. 6: 9). No one but he can say “my Father.” Everyone else is only entitled , as a member of the community, to use that “we” which Jesus made possible for them; i.e., they have the right to address God as Father because they are all created by God and for one another. To recognize and accept God’s Fatherhood always means accepting that we are set in relation to one another: man is entitled to call God “Father” to the extent that he participates in that “we” – which is the form under which God’s love seeks for him… No one can build a bridge to the Infinite by his won strength. No one’s voice is loud enough to summon the Infinite. No intelligence can adequately and securely conceive who God is, whether he hears us and how we should act toward him… Even the awareness that religion must rest on a higher authority than that of one’s own reason, and that it needs a community as a “carrier,” is part of mankind’s basic knowledge, though found in manifold forms and even distortions… Jesus’ task was to renew the People of God by deepening its relationship to God and by opening it up for all mankind… He achieved this by transforming his death into an act of prayer, an act of love, and thus by making himself communicable. Jesus has made it possible for people to participate in his most intimate and personal act of being, i.e., his dialogue with the Father. That is the deepest layer of meaning of that process in which he taught his disciples to say “Our Father.”
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI
The Lord’s Prayer
by Sr. Rosemary
Has there ever been a more powerful or more important prayer than the Our Father? The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that the Our Father “is truly the summary of the whole Gospel”. (#2761) Jesus isn’t just suggesting a prayer for us to say; what he said is: “This is how you are to pray.”
Since the time he taught us the Our Father himself, it has been recited by every Christian church, in every service from baptism to burial. It’s also at the heart of our private devotions. People who might otherwise differ on points of doctrine are united by their common use of this beautiful prayer. How easy, though, it can be for us to say it routinely and without much thought.
With that in mind, let’s reflect together in a prayerful way on each powerful phrase of the Our Father.
I cannot say “our” if I live only for myself.
I cannot say “Father” if I do not approach God like a child.
I cannot say “who art in heaven” if I am not laying up some treasure there right now.
I cannot say “hallowed be thy name” if I am careless with that name.
I cannot say “Thy kingdom come” if I am not working to bring it about in the here and now.
I cannot say “thy will be done” if I am resentful of that will for me at this moment.
I cannot say “on earth as it is in heaven” if I don’t look on heaven as my future home.
I cannot say “give us our daily our daily bread” if I am overanxious about tomorrow.
I cannot say “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us” if I am waiting to settle a score with someone.
I cannot say ‘lead us not into temptation’ if I deliberately put myself in a place to be tempted.
I cannot say ‘deliver us from evil’ if I am not prepared to pray as though everything depends on God and work as though everything depends on me.
And finally, I cannot say “amen’ with my lips if my heart does not believe the words Our Lord himself has given us to pray.
© St Margaret Mary Church 2016.