The Nature of Prayer.
PRAYER BEFORE MEDITATION.
My God, I firmly believe that Thou art here present. I acknowledge that on account of my many sins I am utterly unworthy to appear before Thy sacred countenance. Yet, confiding in Thy infinite goodness and mercy, I venture to address Thee, to call upon Thy holy name, and meditate upon Thy commandments, in order that I may acquire a better knowledge of Thy holy will, and accomplish it with more fidelity. Wherefore enlighten my understanding that I may perceive what I ought to do or leave undone for the promotion of Thy glory and my own salvation; at the same time excite my will, that I may repent with my whole heart of my past sins, and resolve for the future to do all that Thou requirest of me. Grant me above all to know Jesus, my divine Teacher and Guide, more clearly, that I may love Him more dearly, and consequently labor, struggle and suffer with greater generosity and self-sacrifice in imitation of His example. Holy Mary, Mother of God and my Mother, show Jesus to me now, and let me study thy divine Son to the salvation of my soul. Holy Guardian Angel, keep far from me all distracting thoughts; my patron saint, come to my assistance. Amen.
Prayer is one of the acts of the virtue of religion. All intelligent creatures are bound to think about God and hold converse with Him; in other words, to pray to Him. Prayer in this wide sense may be defined to be “the raising of our minds to God.”
The four great acts of prayer are Adoration, Thanksgiving, Petition, and Contrition.
Adoration is the acknowledgment of God’s supreme majesty and our entire dependence upon Him.
Thanksgiving is the thanking God for the favours and graces we have received from Him.
Petition is the asking from God what we stand in need of.
Contrition is an expression of sorrow to God for having offended Him.
The word “prayer” is from the Latin precari, which means to pray, beseech, entreat, supplicate, etc., and this is the primary idea contained in the word.
Prayer being an act of religion, should be addressed to God. We pray to God, not because He does not already know our needs, but because He wills that we should ourselves put them before Him.
Prayer is a petition to God for all things which are proper for us. It is an elevation of the soul to God; to adore Him, to bless His Holy Name, to praise His goodness, and to return Him thanks for all His benefits. It is a conversation with God. It is one of God’s many gifts, and it is the most excellent gift which He has given to man. It is the very life of the soul.
We, as it were, live two lives, viz., the life of the body, and the life of the soul. They both require food. If the body is left without food it dies, so also with regard to the soul, if it is left without its proper food, it languishes and dies. Prayer it is, that sustains the soul. “When we pray that God will give us our bread, we ask not the bread which serves to nourish our body, but the bread of eternal life which sustains the substance of the soul: hence it is called supersubstantial, as nourishing the principal substance of man” (St. Ambrose).
Prayer is an act of religion, because by it we acknowledge God to be the sovereign Lord, and giver of all good, and we honour His infinite goodness, inasmuch as we hope to obtain what we stand in need of.
By prayer we acknowledge our own weakness, misery, and unworthiness; God’s sovereign dominion over us, and our subjection to, and entire dependence upon Him.
In order to pray we must have Faith and Hope. This is manifest from Sacred Scripture, for St. Paul says, “How then shall they call on Him, in whom they have not believed?” (Rom. x, 14). “Ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea, which is moved and carried about by the wind. Therefore, let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord” (St. James i, 6, 7).
From these passages of Sacred Scripture it is clear that we must believe in God, and that we must have great confidence in Him, when we pray.
PRAYER AFTER MEDITATION.
My God, I give Thee heartfelt thanks for all the graces and all the light Thou hast conferred on me during this meditation. Pardon me all the negligence and the distractions of which I have been guilty, and give me strength to carry out the resolutions that I have made. Fortify me, that from henceforth I may diligently practise this virtue . . . avoid this fault . . . perform this action . . . to Thy honor. Help me to do this, sweet Virgin Mary; and if I ever forget my good resolutions, I entreat my Angel Guardian to recall them to my memory. Amen.
God measures His love for a soul by the degree of union which exists between it and Himself, and which makes of it an apt instrument for His designs. – St. Ignatius of Loyola, Bartoli, Book I.
April Devotion: The Holy Ghost (The Passion for Lent)
Virtue to practice: Patience
Vexilla Regis prodeunt
The royal banners forward go;
The Cross shines forth in mystic glow,
Where Life for sinners death endured,
And life by death for man procured.
Where deep for us the spear was dyed,
Life’s torrent rushing from His side,
To wash us in that precious flood
Where mingled, Water flowed, and Blood,
Fulfilled is all that David told
In true prophetic song of old;
‘Amidst the nations, God,’ saith he,
‘Hath reigned and triumphed from the Tree.’
O Tree of beauty! Tree of light!
O Tree with royal purple dight!
Elect on whose triumphal breast
Those holy Limbs should find their rest.
On whose dear arms, so widely flung,
The weight of this world’s ransom hung:
The price of human kind to pay
And spoil the spoiler of his prey.
O Cross, our one reliance, hail,
Thou glory of the saved, avail*
To give fresh merit to the Saint,
And pardon to the penitent.
To Thee, Eternal Three in One,
Let homage meet by all be done;
Whom by the Cross Thou dost restore,
Preserve and govern evermore. Amen.
Vexilla Regis pródeunt,
Fulget Crucis mystérium,
Qua vita mortem pértulit,
Et morte vitam prótulit.
Quæ vulneráta lánceæ
Mucróne diro, críminum
Ut nos laváret sórdibus,
Manávit unda et sánguine.
Impléta sunt quæ cóncinit
David fidéli cármine,
Regnávit a ligno Deus.
Arbor decóra et fúlgida,
Ornáta regis púrpura,
Elécta digno stípite
Tam sancta membra tángere.
Beáta, cuius bráchiis
Prétium pepéndit sæculi,
Statéra facta córporis,
Tulítque prædam tártari.
O Crux, ave, spes única,
Gentis redémptæ glória!*
Piis adáuge grátiam,
Reísque dele crímina.
Te, fons salútis, Trínitas,
Colláudet omnis spíritus:
Quibus Cricis victóriam
Largíris, adde præmium. Amen.
(ex. Breviario Romano)
*Instead of: ‘Thou Glory of the saved,’ during Passiontide, say: ‘This Holy Passiontide‘, during the Paschal Season: ‘Thou joy of Eastertide‘, on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross: ‘On this triumphant day.‘
An indulgence of 5 years.
A plenary indulgence on the usual conditions for the daily recitation of this hymn throughout an entire month (S.C. Ind., Jan. 16, 1886; S.P.Ap., April 29, 1934).
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