What actually happens in prayer? If we ask this, we run into a second barrier, which in many respects explains the first. Our crisis in prayer is fundamental, yes, but it is also simply practical: we do not quite know how it is done, and perhaps all the great fundamental difficulties are after all just an ideological superstructure that is supposed to justify this practical inability of ours to cope with prayer. Because we are unable to do it, we invent a theory that tells us that we could not have been able to do it in the first place, because it no longer works at all and makes no sense any more.

How should we begin, then, to find a doorway? Now man is a disappointing, failing being, who again and again finds that he is helpless, and the most characteristic thing about him is precisely the cry of distress, the SOS call for help. And so the history of prayer begins, not just in the Old Testament, with the cry, “O LORD … we beg you!” (Psalm 118:25, cf. Numbers 12:13, and 2 Samuel 15:31), with this protest against affliction, with lament and struggle for God; yet the prayer that Jesus gave as the model for all prayer when he was asked, “Lord, teach us to pray” is a prayer of petition.

…If we really say Kyrie eleison, if we really cry to God out of the depths of our misery, this is a recognition of what we are and what he is; it is worshipping his glory. For in doing that we say, honestly, “Look at me, God, I am nothing, but You are everything; I am full of misery, but You are rich enough to heal all the misery in the world; I am sinful and wicked, but You are full of extravagant love. You do not love as men do, who love only those who are sympathetic to them; You also love the beggar in rags, the prodigal son. You do not love because we are good but, rather, because You are good.…”

To petition God really means nothing other than to place ourselves entirely in God’s hands. To petition God means humbly to acknowledge God’s surpassing glory and to let him have that glory without wanting to copy it.

(Pope Benedict XVI, Dogma and Preaching: Applying Christian Doctrine to Daily Life, Ignatius Press, 2011, Page 106-108.)

My notes: It is important to see that Pope Benedict is not describing prayer as only words or even as a dialog. I think it is a fair assessment to say that his understanding is that prayer is a movement of our heart to and ultimately into the heart of the Holy Trinity.

A friend of mine passed away a few days ago. He was 49 years old, married with three young children. He died within some 6 weeks of a diagnosis of cancer. Death is something that all humans must face at some point in time. This includes our death and the death of people we love.

I want to address how someone responds in prayer to the reality of death: hope.
An understanding of hope first is necessary before praying with it or for it. From the Catechism of the Catholic Church: Hope is the theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ’s promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit. (#1817)

We were created to know God and love God for all eternity. Hope is our deepest desire that our relationship with God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) is an eternal relationship. The Catechism contains a beautiful prayer from St. Teresa of Avila about hope and death:

Hope, O my soul, hope. You know neither the day nor the hour. Watch carefully, for everything passes quickly, even though your impatience makes doubtful what is certain, and turns a very short time into a long one. Dream that the more you struggle, the more you prove the love that you bear your God, and the more you will rejoice one day with your Beloved, in a happiness and rapture that can never end. (CCC #1821)

With my whole heart I cry; answer me, O LORD!
I will keep your statutes. (Psalm 119:145)

If the cry to the Lord uttered by those who pray is made with the sound of the bodily voice without the heart being turned to God, who can doubt that it is made in vain? But if it comes from the heart, even if the bodily voice is silent, it can be concealed from everybody else but not from God.
Therefore when we pray – weather aloud as required or silently – to God, our cry must come from the heart. –St. Augustine  (Augustine Day by Day, Catholic Book Publishing Co. 1986, Page 71)

Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there till I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” And he rose and took the child and his mother by night, and departed to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod. (Matthew 2:13–15)
Are you keeping Jesus safe? Where and how do you keep Jesus safe? You keep Him safe in your heart. You keep Him close to you in your heart and never let him leave. You keep Him there by talking to Him, every day… this is called prayer.

May 1st, 2015, The Feast of St. Joseph the Worker

OurLadyGenazzano

Most Glorious Virgin, chosen by the Eternal Counsel to be the Mother of the Eternal Word made flesh, thou who art the treasurer of Divine graces, and the advocate of sinners, I, thy most unworthy servant, have recourse to thee; be thou pleased to be my guide and counselor in this vale of tears. Obtain for me through the Most Precious Blood of thy Divine Son, the forgiveness of my sins, the salvation of my soul, and the means necessary to obtain it. In like manner, obtain for Holy Mother the Church victory over her enemies, and the spread of the kingdom of Jesus Christ upon the whole earth. Amen.

April 26th is the Feast of Our Lady of Good Counsel

Psalm 22 is a wonderful passage of Sacred Scripture to pray with, I highly recommend it for prayer in the seasons of Lent and Easter.

Psalm 22 is classified as a Lament. It is also the Psalm that Jesus quotes during His crucifixion, some 5 minutes before He dies.  This psalm is also a prophecy of Jesus and His crucifixion, there are 5 verses that are fully understood only in light of the passion of Jesus.

Verse 1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lama sabach-thani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”(Matthew 27:46)

7 All who see me mock at me, they make mouths at me, they wag their heads;
And those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads, and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself, and come down from the cross!” (Matthew 27:39-40)

8 “He committed his cause to the LORD; let him deliver him, let him rescue him, for he delights in him.”
He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him; for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’ ” (Matthew 27:43)

16 Yes, dogs are round about me; a company of evildoers encircle me;
they have pierced my hands and feet—
And when they had crucified him… (Matthew 27:35)

17 I can count all my bones—they stare and gloat over me;

18 they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.
…they divided his garments among them by casting lots (Matthew 27:35)

 

In addition to the specific verses that are a prophecy of Jesus, there is something special about this Lament. The last 10 verses of totally different than the first 21. In verse 22, the entire essence of the Psalm changes from a Lament to a Praise! So verses 1 to 21 are best understood with a point of reference of Good Friday afternoon, and verses 22 to 31 are best understood with a reference of Easter Sunday afternoon.

Five minutes from His death, Jesus is still teaching us. We always need to have a vision, an understanding of the great gift of what an eternity with Jesus will be like: an eternal praise of the Holy Trinity.

The Eucharist is the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus, He his really and truly present,  that is the reality.

St. Augustine explains the symbolism:

“ ‘The Body of Christ,’ you are told, and you answer ‘Amen.’ Be members then of the Body of Christ so that your Amen may be true! Why is this mystery accomplished with bread?… Consider that the bread is not made of one grain, but of many. During the time of exorcism [before baptism], you were, so to say, in the mill. When you were baptized you were wetted with water. Then the Holy Spirit came into you like the fire that bakes the dough. Be then what you see and receive what you are.”  (St. Augustine, Sermon 272)

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