Daily Archives: October 6, 2010

“Pray, Pray, Pray! After that, you should also – Pray!” – Luke 11:1-4†


 

25 Days till “All Hallows Eve” (Halloween)

80 Days till CHRISTMAS

(But who’s counting anyway)

 

 

Today in Catholic History:
       

     †   891 – Formosus begins his reign as Catholic Pope
     †   1101 – Death of Bruno of Cologne, German founder of the Carthusian order
     †   1552 – Birth of Matteo Ricci, Italian Jesuit missionary (d. 1610)
     †   1582 – Due to the implementation of the Gregorian [Pope St. Gregory] calendar, this day is skipped in Italy, Poland, Portugal and Spain.
     †   1983 – Death of Terence Cardinal Cooke, American Catholic archbishop (b. 1921)
     †   2002 – Opus Dei founder Josemaría Escrivá is canonized.

(From the “On This Day” Blog Site
otday.wordpress.com) &/OR
“Today in Catholic History”
http://www.historyorb.com)

 

 

Quote or Joke of the Day:

 

Prayer: don’t give God instructions, just report for duty!  Remember: We don’t change the message. The message changes us!

 

 

 

 

Today’s reflection is about Jesus teaching His disciples how to pray.

 

1 He 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.”  2 He said to them, “When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come.  3 Give us each day our daily bread 4 and forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us, and do not subject us to the final test.” Luke 11:1-4

 

 

Did you know that besides emphasizing our need to help the poor in society, Luke gives more attention to Jesus’ teachings on prayer than any other Gospel writer!  The first of three episodes concerned with prayer, from Luke’s Gospel, are presented here.   This Gospel reading is about Jesus teaching his disciples a communal prayer: known to us as the “Our Father.”  The other two episodes, not included in this reflection, are Luke 11:5-8: the importance of persistence in prayer; and Luke 11:9-13: the effectiveness of prayer.

Matthews’s manner of the “Our Father” is the one we most commonly say, and is the one used in the “Sermon on the Mount” (Matthew 6:9-15).  Stripped of much of the language we are used to, Luke’s version seems quite simple and direct.  This shorter version occurs while Jesus is at prayer, which Luke regularly shows Jesus devoutly doing at important times in His public ministry.  Other times of Jesus praying devoutly include the choosing of the Twelve Apostles (Luke 6:12); before Peter’s confession (Luke 9:18); at the transfiguration (Luke 9:28); at the Last Supper (Luke 22:32); on the Mount of Olives (Luke 22:41); and on the cross (Luke 23:46). 

Matthew’s form of the “Our Father” also seems to follow the liturgical tradition of his synagogue.  Luke’s version, though less developed, also represents the liturgical tradition known to him; and it is probably closer to the original words of Jesus than Matthew’s.

Trivia time #1:  Most of us mistakenly call the “Our Father” prayer the “Lord’s Prayer!”  Find your Bible and brush off most of the dust from its cover; this is a good one to show others!  Actually, the “Lord’s Prayer” is found in John 17:1-26.  Since the sixteenth century, this chapter of John’s Gospel has been called the “high priestly prayer” of Jesus.  This is His last prayer, at the “Mount of Olives,” just prior to His arrest.  Jesus, through prayer, speaks directly as an intercessor to His Father, in words His disciples probably overheard.  Jesus’ prayer is a petition for immediate and future disciples [us].  Many of the phrases are suggestive of today’s “Our Father” Prayer.  Although still in the world, Jesus looks on his earthly ministry as a thing of the past.  Jesus has up till this time stated that the disciples could follow him.  Now He wishes them to be with Him in union with the Father.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus’ disciples asked Him to teach them to pray just as Jesus’ cousin (and the last Biblical prophet), John [the Baptist] taught his followers to pray.  To have their own distinctive form of prayer was the mark of a religious community: the start of the “Catholic,” Christ-centered community in this case.  This ancient way of recognizing a religious community is also true today, e.g., the consecration to Mary of the Marianists, and the “We adore you” of the Franciscans.

Jesus presents them with an example of a Christian “collective” prayer that stresses the fatherhood of God, and acknowledges Him as the one that gives us daily sustenance (Luke 11:3), forgiveness (Luke 11:4), and deliverance from the final trial [or test] (Luke 11:4).

The words “our Father in heaven” is a prayer found in many Jewish prayers with inception of the New Testament period.  Interestingly, the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim peoples all believe of the same God as “Father.”  The relationship of this “Father” is the only difference for all three religions.

“Hallowed be your name” was an interesting phrase for many young Catholics I have taught in PSR.  I cannot tell you how many children thought they were saying “’Harold’ be thy name:” actually thinking God’s real name was “Harold!”  The word “Hallow,” used as a verb, is defined as: “to make holy or sacred, to sanctify or consecrate; to venerate.”  The adjective form “hallowed,” as used in this prayer, means: “holy, consecrated, sacred, or revered.”

The act of “hallowing” the name of God is an intentional reverencing of God by acknowledging, praising, thanking, and obeying Him and His will.  This is what most Catholics have come to believe; I know I did!  Actually, it is more likely a petition that God hallow his own name; that he reveals His glory by an act of power!  This can be demonstrated in Ezekiel 36:23: I will prove the holiness of my great name, profaned among the nations, in whose midst you have profaned it.  Thus the nations shall know that I am the LORD, says the Lord GOD, when in their sight I prove my holiness through you.  In regards to the “Our Father” prayer, God is manifesting His power with the establishment of His “Kingdom,” first within each of us personally, and to also be fulfilled completely in the future.

“Your kingdom come” is an appeal that sets the tone for this prayer, and slants the balance toward divine interaction and intervention, rather than human action in the petitions of this prayer.  “Your will be done, on earth as in heaven” is a request that God establish His Kingdom already present in heaven and on earth.  God’s Kingdom breaks the boundaries that separate the rich from the poor, the clean from the unclean, and the saint and sinner.

Trivia time #2: Instead of the appeal just mentioned: “Your will be done, on earth as in heaven, per the USSCB web site (www.usccb.org/nab/bible), some early church Fathers prayed, “May your Holy Spirit come upon us and cleanse us.”  This indicates that the “Our Father” prayer might have been used in baptismal liturgies very early in Christianity.

“Give us today our daily bread” espouses a petition for a speedy coming of God’s Kingdom.  Notably, God’s Kingdom is often portrayed with the image of a “feast” in both the Old and New Testaments.  An example can be found in Isaiah 25:6, “On this mountain the LORD of hosts will provide for all peoples A feast of rich food and choice wines, juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines;” and in similar themes are also found in Matthew 8:11; 22:1-10; and Luke 13:29; 14:15-24.

Luke uses the more theological word “sins” rather than “debts,” used in Matthew’s version.  The word “debts” in “Forgive us our debts” is used as a metaphor for sins, meaning our debts owed to God.  This request I believe is for forgiveness now, and at our final judgment.  But Jesus’ disciples (even today) need to be careful, since disciples of Jesus NOT forgiving each and every person who has sinned against them, cannot have a proper view of Jesus’ Father, who is merciful to ALL!  You need to understand that our “Father,” God, is truly Catholic: truly universal!

Jewish apocalyptic writings speak of a period of severe trials before the end of the “age.”  You may have possibly heard it called the “messianic woes” or “Jacob’s Trials” (found in the “Book of Jubilees:” Chapter 23).  The petition, “do not subject us to the final test” asks that we instead be spared these final tests: these periods of severe trials believed by all Jewish people.

Having taught his disciples this simple, but complete, daily prayer, Jesus reassures them that God answers all prayers given to Him.  In the following Gospel verses, Jesus stresses this point by telling a parable about the persistent neighbor who asks a friend for bread at midnight.  The friend is already in bed and has no desire to disturb his family by opening the door.  Yet, the neighbor is persistent, and the sleeping man gets up and gives him all that he needs.  The moral of this parable: If a neighbor is willing to help us if we are persistent enough, how could God not respond to our requests as well?!

Would I have acted the same way as the neighbor in this parable?  To answer this question, I can remember when my children were much younger, and spending a huge amount of time to get them to sleep.  If someone would have banged on my door, or rang the door-bell, I would have been quite upset, and probably not very hospitable or “Christian” when I answered that door.  I also know from past experiences, that I would have ultimately submitted to their request or need, and helped them in whatever way I could.  Is God the same way?  I believe yes!  He definitely does respond to us if we are persistent in our requests and “communications” with Him.

I firmly believe that part of the solution to today’s problems in the Church, in the family, and in the world – problems like abortion, wars and other conflicts, religious and racial harmony, physical and mental illness, family issues, and issues involving money, poverty, and excess wealth (including idolatry to money & other material aspects) – is for all of us to practice a daily strong, constant, persistent, and unrelenting PRAYER life.  Given who and what Jesus really is, He taught us a perfect prayer; as it recognizes God’s holiness and His rule over all things.  

Jesus taught us to approach God simply as we would approach a loving father.  Think of times when family members were persistent about something until they were able to achieve a goal or receive what they sought.  Prayer is a way of striving to recognize how God is reaching out to us in love, and that He responds when we present Him with our needs and gratitude.  God hears ALL our prayers.  He also answers ALL our prayers, but just maybe not the way we want or anticipate.  God’s invitation is, as Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 5:17, “Pray without ceasing.”  The “Our Father” prayer helps do just that!

 

Today’s prayer is a combination of an early Christian practice and the prayer found in Luke 18:9-14.  It is possibly the most popular prayer among Eastern Orthodox and Catholic Christians.  It is recited using prayer ropes that are similar to Western rosaries.

 

“The Jesus Prayer”

 

“O Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.  Amen”

 

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

 

*****

 

A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day:  St. Bruno (1030?-1101)

 

This saint has the honor of having founded a religious order which, as the saying goes, has never had to be reformed because it was never deformed. No doubt both the founder and the members would reject such high praise, but it is an indication of the saint’s intense love of a penitential life in solitude.

He was born in Cologne, Germany, became a famous teacher at Rheims and was appointed chancellor of the archdiocese at the age of 45. He supported Pope Gregory VII (May 25) in his fight against the decadence of the clergy and took part in the removal of his own scandalous archbishop, Manasses. Bruno suffered the plundering of his house for his pains.

He had a dream of living in solitude and prayer, and persuaded a few friends to join him in a hermitage. After a while he felt the place unsuitable and, through a friend, was given some land which was to become famous for his foundation “in the Chartreuse” (from which comes the word Carthusians). The climate, desert, mountainous terrain and inaccessibility guaranteed silence, poverty and small numbers.

Bruno and his friends built an oratory with small individual cells at a distance from each other. They met for Matins and Vespers each day, and spent the rest of the time in solitude, eating together only on great feasts. Their chief work was copying manuscripts.

The pope, hearing of Bruno’s holiness, called for his assistance in Rome. When the pope had to flee Rome, Bruno pulled up stakes again, and spent his last years (after refusing a bishopric) in the wilderness of Calabria.

He was never formally canonized, because the Carthusians were averse to all occasions of publicity. Pope Clement extended his feast to the whole Church in 1674.

Comment:

If there is always a certain uneasy questioning of the contemplative life, there is an even greater puzzlement about the extremely penitential combination of community and hermit life lived by the Carthusians.

Quote:

“Members of those communities which are totally dedicated to contemplation give themselves to God alone in solitude and silence and through constant prayer and ready penance. No matter how urgent may be the needs of the active apostolate, such communities will always have a distinguished part to play in Christ’s Mystical Body…” (Decree on the Renewal of Religious Life, 7).

Saint of the Day: Lives, Lessons and Feast
By Leonard Foley, O.F.M.;
revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.
(From
http://www.americancatholic.org website)

    

Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #’s 6 & 7 of 26:

   

They have been made living members of the Church by being buried and raised with Christ in baptism; they have been united more intimately with the Church by profession. Therefore, they should go forth as witnesses and instruments of her mission among all people, proclaiming Christ by their life and words.

Called like Saint Francis to rebuild the Church and inspired by his example, let them devote themselves energetically to living in full communion with the pope, bishops, and priests, fostering an open and trusting dialog of apostolic effectiveness and creativity.

 

 

United by their vocation as “brothers and sisters of penance” and motivated by the dynamic power of the gospel, let them conform their thoughts and deeds to those of Christ by means of that radical interior change which the gospel calls “conversion.” Human frailty makes it necessary that this conversion be carried out daily.

On this road to renewal the sacrament of reconciliation is the privileged sign of the Father’s mercy and the source of grace.

 

 

 

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