"And I beheld, and heard the voice of one eagle flying through the midst of heaven,
saying with a loud voice: Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth....
[Apocalypse (Revelation) 8:13]

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Fr. Voigt, "Ask and You Shall Receive"

Fr. Voigt, "Ask and You Shall Receive"

Prior to the descent of the Holy Ghost upon the apostles the Church presents Our Lord encouraging each of us to pray with confidence.  So many, as St. James remarks in his epistles, pray without conviction and without understanding.  Consequently, their prayers are not heard and they become discouraged.  What then is necessary for the development of our prayer life?  We will consider the three necessary virtues and the three stages of prayer. 

In the first place there is no prayer if there is not a calm spirit hosted in a silent framework.
Silence begets the virtue of humility just as quiet waters reveal the sand and 
rocks below the surface.  When you practice silence daily, then the result is a spirit that can accept the fact that we are nothing and God is all.  Imagine a speck of dust seeking to claim some special privilege before the all-knowing Deity.  Unbelievable but God sent His only begotten Son through the meekest of all creatures to re-establish a relationship with us, sinful us.  Within the framework of silence the humble spirit seeks the inspiration of the Holy Ghost to speak to and with God.  The Triune God bends to the humble heart but resists the arrogance of the proud.  Recall the pharisee and the publican who beat his breast and prayed that the Lord be merciful to a sinful soul.  The publican's prayer was heard while the pharisee went home basking in his condemnation of the other.

Realizing that I must fight my pride daily and encourage an attitude of humility within my heart then I turn to the effect of the humble heart.  That effect is confidence in the great God Who continues to love me despite my nothingness and because of my nothingness.
Like the little child that relies on mom and dad for everything so must we rely on God for all the needs of our lives.  Our confidence must be exercised in our prayer life.  The goal of this confidence is won with the acknowledgement that our Lord would not go to a Cross that we might be lost.  No the divine will is that I will save my soul and to do this I must be confident in the love of God.  So confidence is a natural effect of the humble heart and it bears a sense of peace in the prayer life of the individual.

Our confidence is the fore runner of our final virtue:  perseverance.  PUSH is a simple memory technique reminding us that we must Pray Until Something Happens.  St. Monica did not give up on St. Augustine.  St. Ambrose and St. Monica united together to bring about the marvelous conversion of the young Augustine.  If St. Monica had given up after so many tears, then there would be no St. Augustine for the modern mind to contemplate.  As our Lord told us that we should seek first the kingdom of God and all else shall be given us besides.  Perseverance is the virtue that requires daily commitment.

So these three virtues prepare the soul for the three stages of Prayer.  In the first stage we begin as children.  We memorize and repeat the scriptural prayers of the Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be etc.  This is the stage of oral prayer and it will continue to be necessary through the other stages as well.  As a singer goes through the do, re, mi to warm up his/her voice so must we begin as we enter into true communion with God. 

Oral prayer then leads us to meditation in which the soul begins to take a truth of the Catholic faith and chew on it.  Reflect upon the trinity, study the relationship between the Father and the Son or between the Son and the Holy Ghost.  Read the word of God in which Jesus describes His relationship to the Father.  In other words, study and allow your study to lead you to stand in awe of God.  Do this with all the truths of the faith.  Meditation ought to be a daily activity in the prayer life of the Catholic. 

Finally, we ought to learn to contemplate the mysteries which were the food of our meditation.  Contemplation is like the holy rosary prayer.  Remember the "Ring a-round the Rosie" game where we get so dizzy we all fall down.  That is an image of contemplation.
WE can use the holy rosary to contemplate a single word (e.g. grace).  The rosary becomes  the background music whereby I fall into a loving contemplation of the work of God in the person of our Lady.  Imagine circling around a thought as a hawk circles around a prey down below.  Look at the truth from several different angles and when it becomes unfamiliar then you are reaching the moment of contemplation. 

There is so much that can be written about prayer and much more concerning the mystery of God revealed in prayer.  All situations can reveal God's love for us and cause us to enter into a union with Him.  Nothing is outside the presence of God and when we break through the temporal and enter the eternal then we are praying.  We can adore, we can petition, we can thank and we can fall down in worship.  Prayer, as the Cure of Ars said, is a sign of salvation but if one does not prayer then the Cure does not think that soul will be saved.  Let us then unite in prayer and seek the greatest good for the greatest number by seeking to ask our Lord through the holy rosary for the correct consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  May God hear our prayer.

In the hearts of Jesus, Mary and Joseph,

Fr. Richard Voigt