THE MECHANICS OF PRAYER: Praying For Someone With No Knees

July 22, 2017

Lately, there is something that I have been forced to sit quietly and consider: the act of praying for someone who doesn’t pray for themselves. On the surface it’s a no-brainer.  Someone is in need of God’s grace and mercy, and so we pray for him.  No matter what the need. No matter the person’s relationship with God. We pray. Right? Right.  That’s what we do. But what exactly are we doing when we do that?  Get down on our knees.  Find the words we are looking for.  Make our petition. Again and again and again. For a person who has no knees of their own. No faith. No belief in any power other than themselves. That shouldn’t matter to us, should it? Perhaps it’s not a matter of matter. Perhaps [...]

PSALMS: Suffering by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

July 18, 2017

From Psalms Where do you find more miserable, more wretched, more depressing words than in the psalms of lamentation?  There you see into the heart of all the saints as into death, even as into hell.  How sad and dark it is there in every wretched corner of the wrath of God. (Luther) The Psalter gives us ample instruction in how to come before God in a proper way, bearing the frequent suffering which this world brings upon us.  Serious illness and severe loneliness before God and men, threat, persecution, imprisonment, and whatever conceivable peril there is on Earth are known by the psalms (13, 31, 35, 41, 44, 54, 55, 56, 61, 74, 79, 86, 88, 102, 105, and others).  They do not deny it or try to deceive us about it with pious words.  [...]

PRAYER: The Liturgy Of Saint Basil The Great

July 17, 2017

O Lord, the helper of the helpless, the hope of those who are past hope, the savior of the tempest-tossed, the harbor of the voyagers, the physician of the sick; you know each soul and our prayer, each home and its need; become to each one of us what we most dearly require, receiving us all into your kingdom, making us children of light; and pour on us your peace and love, O Lord our God.  Amen. Complete and perfected, so far as in us lies, is the mystery of your redeeming work, Christ our God.  We have made the memorial of your death, we have seen the symbol of your resurrection, we have been filled with your unending life, we have tasted your inexhaustible joy, of which, we pray, you will count us worthy in the age to come, through the [...]

PSALMS: Life by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

July 11, 2017

From Psalms Many earnest Christians are struck as they pray the psalms by how often the petition for life and good fortune occurs.  From a glance at the cross of Christ there comes to many the unhealthy thought that life and the visible, Earthly blessings of God are in themselves at least a questionable good, and in any case a good not to be desired.  They take, then, the corresponding prayers of the Psalter to be an incomplete first stage of Old Testament piety, which is overcome in the New Testament.  But in doing so they want to be more spiritual than God himself. As the petition for daily bread includes the entire sphere of the necessities of physical life, so the petition for life, health, and visible evidences of the friendliness [...]

PRAYER: Surprise And Gratefulness by Brother David Steindl-Rast

July 10, 2017

From Gratefulness, the Heart of Prayer A rainbow always comes as a surprise.  Not that it cannot be predicted.  Surprising sometimes means unpredictable, but it often means more.  Surprising in the full sense means somehow gratuitous.  Even the predictable turns into surprise the moment we stop taking it for granted.  If we knew enough, everything would be predictable, and yet everything would remain gratuitous.  If we knew how the whole universe worked, we would still be surprised that there was a universe at all.  Predictable it may be, yet all the more surprising. Our eyes are opened to that surprise character of the world around us the moment we wake up from taking things for granted.  Rainbows have a way of waking us up.  A [...]

PRAYER: The Liturgy Of Saint James

July 10, 2017

From The Apostolic Constitutions Almighty God, whose glory the heavens are telling, the Earth his power, and the sea his might, and whose greatness all feeling and thinking creatures everywhere herald; to you belongs glory, honor, might, greatness, and magnificence now and for ever, to the ages of ages, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen. O Lord our God, the bread from Heaven, the food of the whole universe, I have sinned against Heaven, and before you, and I am not worthy to receive your most holy mysteries.  But, in your compassion, grant me by your grace uncondemned to partake of your holy body and your precious blood, to remission of sins and life eternal.  Amen. Let all mortal flesh keep silent, and stand with fear and trembling, [...]

SATURDAY READING: Introducing A Way Of Prayer by H. Paul Santmire

July 8, 2017

From Before Nature: A Christian Spirituality Saint Francis, that great medieval lover of nature, attended Mass every day throughout much of his life.  Dorothy Day, that great American witness to peace, nonviolence, and justice for the poor, did the same.  As we continue to consider the journey before us, I will not ask you to emulate such saintly practices – at least, not exactly.  But I will ask you to think about the importance of spiritual practices more generally and of one spiritual practice in particular: saying the Trinity Prayer.  Why?  Because, we can learn from great spiritual forebears like Francis and Dorothy Day.  And, more particularly, because today most of us live in a culture of secularity, which makes it [...]

PSALMS: The Church by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

July 4, 2017

From Psalms Psalms 27, 42, 46, 48, 63, 81, 84, 87, and others sing of Jerusalem, the City of God, of the great festivals of the people of God, of the temple and the beautiful worship services.  It is the presence of the God of salvation in his congregation for which we here give thanks, about which we here rejoice, for which we long.  What Mount Zion and the temple were for the Israelites the church of God throughout the world is for us – the church where God always dwells with his people in word and sacrament.  This church will withstand all enemies (Psalm 46), its imprisonment under the powers of the godless world will come to an end (Psalms 126 and 137).  The present and gracious God, who is in Christ who in turn is in his [...]

PRAYER: Aliveness And Wakefulness (In Place of an Introduction) by Brother David Steindl-Rast

July 3, 2017

From: Gratefulness, The Heart of Prayer This book is about life in fullness.  It is about coming alive.  I could summarize it in two words: Wake up! A poet like Kabir is able to say these two words with a freshness that makes us sit up.  Kabir’s poems have power.  They wake us up to an aliveness we never thought possible. Do you have a body? Don’t sit on the porch! Go out and walk in the rain! If you are in love, then why are you asleep? Wake up, wake up! You have slept millions and millions of years. Why not wake up this morning? In my own way, I try to get the same message across.  And people are hungry for it.  All around the world I have been invited to speak about it.  And people always ask, “Why don’t [...]

PRAYER: On The Love Of God by Bernard of Clairvaux

July 3, 2017

I will love you, O Lord my strength, my stony rock and my defense, my savior my one desire and love. My God, my helper, I will love you with all the power you have given me; not as much as you deserve to be loved, for that can never be, but as much as I am able to. Whatever I do, I never can discharge my debt to you, and I can love you only according to the power that you have given me. The more power to love you give me, the more I will love you; yet never, never, can I love you as much as you should be loved. [...]

PSALMS: The Messiah by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

June 27, 2017

God’s holy history comes to fulfillment in the sending of the Messiah.  According to Jesus’s own interpretation, the Psalter has prophesied of this Messiah (Luke 24:44).  Psalms 22 and 69 are known to the church as the passion psalms. Jesus himself prayed the beginning of Psalm 22 on the cross and so clearly made it his prayer.  Hebrews 2:12 places verse 22 in the mouth of Christ.  Verse 8 and verse 18 are direct predictions of the crucifixion of Jesus.  David himself may have once prayed this psalm in his own song.  If so, he did this as the king, anointed by God and therefore persecuted by men, from whom Jesus Christ would descend.  He did it as the one who bore Christ in himself.  But Christ himself used this prayer [...]

PRAYER: Contemplative Prayer, An Introduction by Thomas Merton

June 26, 2017

From Contemplative Prayer He who walks in darkness, to whom no light appears, let him trust in the Name of Yahweh, let him rely upon his God. (Isaiah 50:10) I will give them a heart to understand that I am Yahweh, and they shall be my people and I will be their God when they return to me with all their heart. (Jeremiah 24:7) The monk is a Christian who has responded to a special call from God, and has withdrawn from the more active concerns of a worldly life, in order to devote himself completely to repentance, “conversion,” metanoia, renunciation and prayer.  In positive terms, we must understand the monastic life above all as a life of prayer.  The negative elements, solitude, fasting, obedience, penance, renunciation of [...]

PSALMS: Holy History by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

June 20, 2017

Psalms 78, 105, and 106 tell us about the history of the people of God on Earth, about the electing grace and faithfulness of God and the unfaithfulness and the ingratitude of his people.  Psalm 78 is not addressed as a prayer to anyone.  How ought we to pray these Psalms?  Psalm 106 summons us to thanksgiving, to praise, to commitment, to petition, to confession of sin, to the call for help in the light of the past history of salvation: thanksgiving for the goodness of God, which continues with respect to his people into eternity, which also we contemporaries experience as did our father; praise for the miracles which God works for our benefit, from the redemption of his people out of Egypt all the way to Golgotha; commitment to keep [...]

PRAYER: St. Teresa Of Ávila And Prayer by Ernest E. Larkin

June 19, 2017

From: The Published Articles of Ernest E. Larkin, O.Carm. Prayer is the heart of Teresa of Avila’s life and teaching, her “way of perfection.” For her, prayer is the supreme meaning and value of human existence, since it is the inner life that animates the exterior, the journey within that is the journey into reality. Prayer is life before it is an exercise, a dimension of being before it is an experience. Prayer means to be in touch with the Center of one’s life, who is “the Divine Majesty” dwelling in his own rooms in the depths of the interior castle, the figure for ourselves. This contact deep within where we merge with God and are transformed into God-centered persons makes us the “new creation” of Pauline theology and [...]

PRAYER: Summer Prayer by Jim Manney

June 19, 2017

From Ignatian Spirituality Father, Creator of all, thank you for summer! Thank you for the warmth of the sun and the increased daylight. Thank you for the beauty I see all around me and for the opportunity to be outside and enjoy your creation. Thank you for the increased time I have to be with my friends and family, and for the more casual pace of the summer season. Draw me closer to you this summer. Teach me how I can pray no matter where I am or what I am doing. Warm my soul with the awareness of your presence and light my path with your Word and Counsel. As I enjoy your creation, create in me a pure heart and a hunger and a thirst for you. [...]

SATURDAY READING: Transformative Contemplation by William A. Clark

June 17, 2017

From Violence, Transformation, and the Sacred: They Shall Be Called Children of God An Encounter With Sacred Violence On May 1, 2011, while most of their professors were at home preparing for bed or already asleep, students at the small Catholic college where I teach participated in a dramatic demonstration of what must be called, “sacred violence.”  That night, al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, for ten years the embodiment of “The Enemy” in the War on Terror, had been killed by U. S. commandos in Pakistan.  Many students had just heard President Barack Obama declare to the nation: “We will be relentless in defense of our citizens and our friends and allies.  We will be true to the values that make us who we [...]

PSALMS: The Law, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

June 13, 2017

The three psalms (1, 19, 119) which in a special way make the law of God the object of thanks, praise, and petition seek to show us, above all, the blessing of the law.  Under “law,” then, is to be understood usually the entire salvation act of God and the direction for a new life in obedience.  Joy in the law and in the commands of God comes to us if God has given the great new direction to our life through Jesus Christ.  That God could at one time conceal his command from me (Psalm 119:19), that he could allow me one day not to recognize his will, is the deepest anxiety of the new life. It is grace to know God’s commands.  They release us from self-made plans and conflicts.  They make our steps certain and our way [...]

THE LORD’S PRAYER: Glory, by Evelyn Underhill

June 12, 2017

Thine is the Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory.  The prayer in which is contained the whole movement of man’s interior life, the substance of his communion with God, is summed up in this delighted declaration of the independent perfection, the unspeakable transcendence of the Holy.  Before that reality, that majesty, that energy, that splendor, his own needs, his own significance, vanish.  Abba, Father.  It is true that the Infinite God is the Father of my soul, that I have a certain kinship with the Abiding, a privilege of cooperation.  Higher than my highest, He is yet nearer than my inmost part.  But in the last resort, I stand entranced and abased before the majesty, the otherness of that Infinite God. “He calleth the [...]

PRAYER: For The Trinity by Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopagite

June 12, 2017

Most exalted Trinity, divinity above all knowledge, whose goodness passes understanding, who guides Christians to divine wisdom; direct our way to the summit of your mystical oracles, most incomprehensible, most lucid and most exalted, where the simple and pure and unchangeable mysteries of theology are revealed in the darkness, clearer than light; a darkness that shines brighter than light, that invisibly and intangibly illuminates with splendors of inconceivable beauty the soul that sees not. Let this be my prayer. [...]

PRAYER: Prayer To The Trinity by Frederick Denison Maurice

June 11, 2017

Most blessed and glorious Trinity, three Persons in one God, teach us to worship and adore that absolute Trinity, that perfect Unity. And that we may adore thee, that our worship may not be a mockery, make us to know that we are one in Christ, as the Father is one with the Son, and the Son with the Father. Suffer us not to look upon our sectarianism as if it were a destiny. Help us to regard it as a rebellion against thee. Help us to see all distinctions more clearly in the light of thy everlasting love. Help us to recognize the truth of every effort to express something of that which passes knowledge. Help us to feel and confess the feebleness of our own efforts. So may thy holy name embrace us more and more. So may all creatures in [...]

PRAYER: The Praises Of The Trinity by Francis of Assisi

June 10, 2017

Holy, holy, holy, Lord God almighty, Who is and who was and who is to come. Let us praise and exalt him above all for ever. Worthy are you, O Lord our God, to receive praise, glory, honor, and blessing. Let us praise and exalt him above all for ever. Worthy is the lamb that was slain to receive power and divinity, wisdom and strength, honor, glory, and blessing. Let us praise and exalt him above all for ever. Let us bless the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Let us praise and exalt him above all for ever. All the works of the Lord, now bless the Lord. Let us praise and exalt him above all for ever. Praise God, all of you his servants, and you that fear him, both small and great. Let us praise and exalt him above all for ever. Let [...]

POETRY: Descend From Your Head Into Your Heart, by Theophan the Recluse

June 7, 2017

You must descend from your head into your heart. At present your thoughts of God are in your head. And God himself is, as it were, outside you, and so your prayer and other spiritual exercises remain exterior. Whilst you are still in your head, thoughts will not easily be subdued but will always be whirling about, like snow in winter or clouds of mosquitoes in [...]

PSALMS: The Creation, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

June 6, 2017

The scripture proclaims God to be the Creator of Heaven and Earth.  Many psalms summon us to bring him honor, praise, and thanksgiving.  There is, however, no single psalm which speaks only of the creation.  It is always the God who has already revealed himself to his people in his word who is said to be known as the Creator of the world.  Because God has spoken to us, because God’s name has been revealed to us, we can believe in him as the Creator.  Otherwise we could not know him.  The creation is a picture of the power and the faithfulness of God, which he has demonstrated to us in his revelation in Jesus Christ.  We worship the Creator who has revealed himself as the Redeemer. Psalm 8 praises the name of God and his [...]

THE LORD’S PRAYER: Prevenience, by Evelyn Underhill

June 5, 2017

Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  May that strange directive power of which from time-to-time we are conscious as the controlling factor of life have pity on our weakness and lead us out of confusion into peace. This abject confession of helplessness seems at first sight to be meant for the untried and bewildered neophyte, in whom the gifts of the Spirit have not yet had time to grow.  Actually, it is the culmination of the prayer which was given to the Church of God in the persons of her Apostles; those through whom the sanctification of human history was to be set going, the handful of men to whom we owe our Christian inheritance.  It is this picked band, these channels of the Spirit, already surrendered to the [...]

PRAYER: Novena To The Holy Spirit—Day Nine, Self Control, by Philip Bochanski

June 3, 2017

From: Novena to the Holy Spirit Hymn: Veni Creator Spiritus Come, Holy Ghost, Creator, come from thy bright heav’nly throne; come, take possession of our souls, and make them all thine own. Thou who art called the Paraclete, best gift of God above, the living spring, the living fire, sweet unction and true love. Thou who art sevenfold in thy grace, finger of God’s right hand; his promise, teaching little ones to speak and understand. O guide our minds with thy blest light, with love our hearts inflame; and with thy strength, which ne’er decays, confirm our mortal frame. Far from us drive our deadly foe; true peace unto us bring; and through all perils lead us safe beneath thy sacred wing. Through thee may we the Father [...]

PRAYER: Novena To The Holy Spirit—Day Eight, Gentleness, by Philip Bochanski

June 2, 2017

From: Novena to the Holy Spirit Hymn: Hymn To Saint Philip This is the saint of gentleness and kindness, Cheerful in penance, and in precept winning; Patiently healing of their pride and blindness Souls that are sinning. This is the saint who, when the world allures us, Cries her false wares, and ope’s her magic coffers, Points to a better city, and secures us With richer offers. Love is his bond; he knows no other fetter, Asks not our all, but takes whate’er we spare him, Willing to draw us on from good to better, As we can bear him. When he comes near to teach us and to bless us, Prayer is so sweet that hours are but a minute; Mirth is so pure, though freely it possess us, Sin is not in it. Thus he conducts by holy paths and pleasant [...]

PRAYER: Novena To The Holy Spirit—Day Seven, Faithfulness, by Philip Bochanski

June 1, 2017

From: Novena to the Holy Spirit Hymn: Veni Creator Spiritus Come, Holy Ghost, Creator, come from thy bright heav’nly throne; come, take possession of our souls, and make them all thine own. Thou who art called the Paraclete, best gift of God above, the living spring, the living fire, sweet unction and true love. Thou who art sevenfold in thy grace, finger of God’s right hand; his promise, teaching little ones to speak and understand. O guide our minds with thy blest light, with love our hearts inflame; and with thy strength, which ne’er decays, confirm our mortal frame. Far from us drive our deadly foe; true peace unto us bring; and through all perils lead us safe beneath thy sacred wing. Through thee may we the Father [...]

PRAYER: Novena To The Holy Spirit—Day Six, Goodness, by Philip Bochanski

May 31, 2017

From: Novena to the Holy Spirit Hymn: Come, Holy Ghost, Creator Blest Come, Holy Ghost, Creator blest, And in our souls take up your rest; Come with your grace and Heavenly aid To fill the hearts which you have made. O Comforter, to you we cry, O Heavenly gift of God Most High, O fount of life and fire of love, And sweet anointing from above. You in your sevenfold gifts are known; You, finger of God’s hand we own; You, promise of the Father, you Who do the tongue with power imbue. Kindle our senses from above, And make our hearts overflow with love; With patience firm and virtue high The weakness of our flesh supply. Far from us drive the foe we dread, And grant us your peace instead; So shall we not, with you for guide, Turn from [...]