Prayer is God's Gift
If a person had only one good leg to stand on, they would be vulnerable to being knocked over. Two good legs are better, but better yet are four strong legs, like a sturdy chair. It is from the chair of St. Peter that dogmas are promulgated, and it is from the ―cathedra,‖ or Archbishop’s chair at the
―Cathedral of St. Paul,‖ from which Archbishop Hebda presides over the primary liturgy, teaches, governs and sanctifies the flock that God has given him to lead into heaven.
Our Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) has four main sections, or four pillars of our faith, which help us ―sit‖uate ourselves in this world, in order to enjoy eternal life, wisdom, happiness and praise in the next world. CCC, paragraph #2558: ―Great is the mystery of the faith!‖
The Church professes this mystery in the Apostles’ Creed (Part One) and celebrates it in the sacramental liturgy (Part Two), so that the life of the faithful may be conformed to Christ in the Holy Spirit to the glory of God the Father (Part Three). This mystery, then, requires that the faithful believe in it, that they celebrate it, and that they live from it in a vital and personal relationship with the living and true God.
This relationship is prayer [Part Four].
What Is Prayer?
Prayer as God’s gift
#2559 ―Prayer is the raising of one’s mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God.‖ But when we pray, do we speak from the height of pride and will, or ―out of the depths‖ of a humble and contrite heart? He who humbles himself will be exalted; humility is the foundation of prayer. Only when we humbly acknowledge that ―we do not know how to pray as we ought,‖ are we ready to receive freely the gift of prayer. ―Man is a beggar before God.‖
#2560 ―If you knew the gift of God!‖ The wonder of prayer is revealed beside the well where we come seeking water: there, Christ comes to meet every human being. It is he who first seeks us and asks us for a drink. Jesus thirsts; his asking arises from the depths of God’s thirst with ours. God thirsts that we may thirst for him.
#2565 In the New Covenant, prayer is the living relationship of the children of God with their Father who is good beyond measure, with his Son Jesus Christ and with the Holy Spirit. The grace of the Kingdom is ―the union of the entire holy and royal Trinity… with the whole human spirit.‖ Thus, the life of prayer is the habit of being in the presence of the thrice holy God and in communion with him. This communion of life is always possible because, through Baptism, we have already been united with Christ. Prayer is Christian insofar as it is communion with Christ and extends throughout theChurch, which is his Body. Its dimensions are those of Christ’s love.
#2608 From the Sermon on the Mount onwards, Jesus insists on conversion of heart: reconciliation with one’s brother before presenting an offering on the altar, love of enemies, and prayer for persecutors, prayer to the Father in secret, not heaping up empty phrases, prayerful forgiveness from the depths of the heart, purity of heart, and seeking the Kingdom before all else. This filial conversion is entirely directed to the Father.
#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 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 think everyone can relate to the above paragraph, for often there are temptations to dissuade us from praying or distract us while we are praying. But it is persevering that we grow in our relationship with God, and come to know our strengths and our weaknesses. The below paragraph is a great summary for advancing in our prayer life: #2609 Once committed to conversion, the heart learns to pray in faith. Faith is a filial adherence to God beyond what we feel and understand. It is possible because the beloved Son gives us access to the Father. He can ask us to ―seek‖ and to ―knock,‖ since he himself is the door and the way.
I am happy to provide the opportunities for us to enter into the highest form of prayer and praise of God, which is the Holy Mass, and the opportunities for Confession and Adoration which is an extension of the Holy Mass. Please read our Sunday bulletin for these opportunities and let us keep growing in our spiritual life together.
Peace in Christ,
Fr. Thomas McCabe