Prayer

“You only do I love, my God. You only do I wish to seek and to follow; I am ready to follow You alone. I wish to be entirely at Your disposal. I beg You to order and command whatever You will, but cure me, open my eyes, that I may see Your slightest gesture. Cure me completely, that I may recognize You. Tell me which way to turn my attention in order to see You; and I hope that I shall be able to do all that You command me” (St Augustine).

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Prayer

“Lord God, our Father, Life by which all live, without which everything would be as dead, do not abandon me to evil thoughts and to pride; take away from me all concupiscence and do not give me as prey to an irreverent and foolish spirit; but take possession of my heart, that I may always think of You…. Help me now, my Redeemer, I beseech You, so that I will not fall before my enemies, caught in the snares which they set for my feet to abase my soul; but save me, strength of my salvation, that I may not become a laughing-stock to Your enemies who hate You. Rise, O Lord, my God, my strength, and Your enemies will be dispersed; those who hate You will flee before Your face.

“As wax melts in the fire, so do sinners vanish before Your face. I shall hide myself in You, and rejoice with Your children, satiated with all Your good things. And You, O Lord God, Father of orphans, protecting Mother, spread your wings, that under them we may take refuge from our enemies” (St Augustine).

I entrust myself to You, my God and Saviour! I wish, particularly in times of struggle, to take refuge in You with redoubled confidence, for “You are my defense and will deliver me from the nets of the fowler and from all misfortune. You will cover me with Your wings and I shall be safe. Your fidelity will surround me like a shield, and I shall fear neither the terrors of the night nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the plague that roams in darkness, nor the attacks of the noonday devil. You are my hope, Lord; You are my refuge, O Most High! You have commanded Your angels to watch over all my paths, and they will bear me in their hands lest my feet strike against a stone” (cf Psalm 91: 3-12).

“Lord, I don’t know how to pray!”

You write: ‘To pray is to talk with God. But about what?’ About what? About Him, about yourself: joys, sorrows, successes and failures, noble ambitions, daily worries, weaknesses! And acts of thanksgiving and petitions: and Love and reparation. In a word: to get to know him and to get to know yourself: ‘to get acquainted!’ – St Josemaria, The Way

How should we pray? I would go as far as to say, without fear of being mistaken, that there are many, countless, ways of praying. But I would like all of us to pray genuinely, as God’s children, not gabbling away like hypocrites who will hear from Jesus’ lips ‘Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord!” shall enter into the kingdom of heaven’ (Matt 7:21). People who live by hypocrisy can perhaps achieve ‘the sound of prayer’, says St Augustine, ‘but they cannot possess its voice, because there is no life in them’ (St Augustine, Commentaries on Psalms, 139,10 (PL 37,1809)). They lack the desire to fulfill the Father’s Will. When we cry ‘Lord!’ we must do so with an effective desire to put into practice the inspirations the Holy Spirit awakens in our soul…

I have never tired of talking about prayer and with God’s grace I never will. I remember back in the thirties, as a young priest, people of all kinds used to come to me looking for ways of getting closer to Our Lord. To all of them, university students and workers, healthy and sick, rich and poor, priests and laymen, I gave the same advice: ‘Pray’. If any one replied, ‘I don’t even know how to begin’, I would advise him to put himself in God’s presence and tell Him of his desires and his anxiety, with that very same complaint: ‘Lord, I don’t know how to pray!’ Often, humble admissions like that were the beginning of an intimate relationship with Christ, a lasting friendship with him.

– St Josemaria, Friends of God

What is prayer?

Prayer is turning the heart toward God. When a person prays, he enters into a living relationship with God. Prayer is the great gate leading into faith. Someone who prays no longer lives on his own, for himself, and by his own strength. He knows there is a God to whom he can talk. People who pray entrust themselves more and more to God. Even now they seek union with the one whom they will encounter one day face to face. Therefore, the effort to pray daily is part of Christian life. Of course, one cannot learn to pray in the same way one learns a technique. As strange as it sounds, prayer is a gift one obtains through prayer.

We pray because we are full of an infinite longing and God has created us men for himself: “Our hearts are restless until they rest in you” (St. Augustine). But we pray also because we need to; Mother Teresa says, “Because I cannot rely on myself, I rely on him, twenty-four hours a day.” Often we forget God, run away from him and hide. Whether we avoid thinking about God or deny that he is always there for us. He seeks us before we seek him; he yearns for us, he calls us. You speak with your conscience and suddenly notice that you are speaking with God. You feel lonely, have no one to talk with, and then sense that God is always available to talk. You are in danger and experience that a cry for help is answered by God. Praying is as human as breathing, eating, and loving. Praying purifies. Praying makes it possible to resist temptations. Praying strengthens us in our weakness. Praying removes fear, increases energy, and gives a second wind. Praying makes one happy.

“”Prayer is the raising of one’s mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God.” (St John Damascene, Defide orth) But when we pray, do we speak from the height of our pride and will, or “out of the depths” of a humble and contrite heart (Ps 130:1)? He who humbles himself will be exalted (cf Lk 18:9-14); humility is the foundation of prayer, Only when we humbly acknowledge that “we do not know how to pray as we ought,” (Rom 8:26) are we ready to receive freely the gift of prayer. “Man is a beggar before God” (St Augustine, Sermo).” (CCC 2559)

“”If you knew the gift of God!” (Jn 4:10) 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 desire for us. Whether we realize it or not, prayer is the encounter of God’s thirst with ours. God thirsts that we may thirst for him (cf. St. Augustine, De diversis quaestionibus octoginta tribus.” (CCC 2560)

The aim of all sacraments

“The mass is long”, you say, and I add: “Because your love is short.” – St Josemaria, The Way

The holy  Mass brings us face to face with one of the central mysteries of our faith, because it is the gift of the Blessed Trinity to the Church. It is because of this that we can consider Mass as the centre and the source of a Christian’s spiritual life.

It is the aim of all the sacrements (cf St thomas, St. Th. III, q.65 a.3). The life of grace, into which we are brought by baptism, and which is increased and strengthened by confirmation, grows to its fullness in the Mass. “When we participate in the Eucharist,” writes St Cyril of Jerusalem, “we are made spiritual by the divinizing action of the Holy Spirit, who not only makes us share in Christ’s life, as in baptism, but makes us entirely Christ-like, incorporating us into the fullness of Christ Jesus” (Catechisis, 22,3).

This pouring out of the Holy Spirit unites us to Christ  and makes us acknowledge that we are children of God. The Paraclete, who is Love, teaches us to saturate our life with the virtue of charity. Thus consummati in unum: “made one with Christ” (John 17:23), we can be among men what the Eucharist is for us, in the words of St Augustine: “a sign of unity, a bond of love” (In Ioannis Evangelium tractatus, 26,13).

– St Josemaria, Christ is Passing