Second Sunday of Lent, 2010
February 28, 2010
Jesus took Peter, John, and James and went up the mountain to pray. While He was praying His face changed in appearance and His clothing became dazzling white.
I want to talk to you today about prayer. Prayer being the first of the three concerns we hear about in Lent:, Prayer, Fasting, Almsgiving. It should be clear to us that these three modes of living the Christian life should not be only a Lenten exercise but should give witness to who we are and to whom we belong, at all times of the year. In the quote I just shared with you Prayer changes everything about us too, as it did for Jesus. Prayer changes our appearance, our demeanor, our outlook on life, our very relationship with one another.
By the words of Father Harden we read that Prayer is the voluntary response to the awareness of God's presence. This response may be an acknowledgment of God's greatness and of a person's total dependence on Him (adoration), or gratitude for His benefits to oneself and others (thanksgiving). Or sorrow for sins committed and begging for mercy (expiation), or asking for graces needed (petition), or affection for God, who is all good (love).
In another place he writes that to Pray always, as recommended by Paul, is the desire to always be united to God. Is also called the prayer of the heart. He goes on to say that this prayer need not be conscious awareness of God's presence. It implies that a person is constantly ready to do the will of God.
It's interesting to note that to Pray implies that we use words. Doxology is formula of praise to God. For example, "Glory to God in the Highest," recited or sung at Mass is known as the greater doxology. "Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit" is the lesser doxology. "For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours, now and for ever," is a doxology that we say after the Our Father at each Mass.
This brings up the Our Father: You'll remember that one day the apostles asked Jesus to teach them how to pray as John has taught his disciples and Jesus said when you pray say, "Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed by thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.' Amen
I've been reading of late that the Our Father is so perfect a prayer that all prayer must reflect what Jesus taught in The Our Father. It consists of seven petitions, of which the first three are concerned with the interests of God, and the last four are requests for divine assistance to man. Plus the fact that it is the common prayer of all Christians.
Knowing myself as I do, I must confess that the hardest part of praying for me is to keep my mind on what I am praying. I talked to a priest about this in the past and was not given much advice other then, join the human race. I stand at the alter with father and before long my mind is off to, God only knows where, pulling myself back to what's going on and making a new resolution and sure enough I'm back to my old ways. Why oh why? The most sublime prayer of all time is taking place and the mind roams.
I remember a retreat a long time ago and it came up that we must find ways of making our body to be a part of the words of our prayer. For example: that is why we fold our hands at Mass to help our mind to conform to the words of the Mass. It helps to pull us back to the reality of what is taking place. Why do we kneel other than to conform or body to the most important happening of the day in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
Another example; we pray the rosary and about the third or fourth Hail Mary we have lost track of the mystery that we are supposed to be praying. Please don't tell me that I'm the only one that has this problem. I remember one Saturday we were having Catechism here in the west sacristy and I don't remember what was going on but Father challenged one of the boys that if he could go out and kneel in front of the Tabernacle and say a mystery of the rosary without distraction he would give him a dollar, a dollar was a lot of money in those days. He didn't take Father up on the challenge as he knew full well he would be thinking about receiving that dollar.
Why do we make the Sign of the Cross, rather then just saying, in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Isn't it to give witness to our Words? Take it a step futher then, why not make the sign of the cross when saying, Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit?
When I was a young boy, mother was telling me how they prayed the rosary in German. Simply it was that you would insert in the Hail Mary a reflection of the Mystery. Some of you may already know this because sometimes I do pray the rosary this way in public.
Quick lesson: You would say, Hail Mary full of Grease the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women and blessed is the Fruit of your womb, Jesus, who was announced, Holy Mary - - - - -. That was for the Annunciation. You do this for each Hail Mary to keep your reflection on the mystery. For each mystery the reflection refers back to Jesus. Each mystery may go something like this: who visited, who was born into the world, who was presented, who was found, who was in agony, who was scourged, who was crowned, who carried the cross, who was crucified. This gives you an idea of what you can insert for each mystery. Here is something else you may not have considered; by carrying your rosary with you at all times is like you have the New Testament either in you pocket or handbag. And now that the Luminous have been add we really have a very complete New Testament, in the simple praying of the Rosary. Pray, Pray, Pray that you may be transformed as was Jesus. Amen