"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]

Monday, June 18, 2018

HOW TO PRAY by the Priests of the Congregation of St. Paul, 1893

by the Priests of the Congregation of St. Paul, 1893

                                    "Launch out into the deep."--St. Luke v. 6.

In this account of the miraculous draught of fishes which we have just heard in the Gospel we see a striking illustration of what real prayer should be, and how it is rewarded. Suppose we devote these few moments this morning to the subject of Prayer. 

We know that prayer is an absolute necessity of the spiritual life. We are strictly bound to pray, if we would save our souls. The manner and the matter of our prayers are, within certain limits, left to our own judgment. There are no conditions of length or place or time. Long prayers are not necessarily the best ones; on the contrary, the Publican said only seven words, and the Penitent Thief nine; and we have yet to hear of prayers more promptly efficacious. We need not come to church in order to have our prayers heard; God will hear us anywhere and any time--as He heard Jeremias in the mire, Ezechias on his bed of death, Daniel in the den of lions, the Three Children in the fiery furnace, Peter and Paul in prison.

Note that our Lord first desired Peter to ''thrust out a little from the land," and afterwards to "launch out into the deep." So with our prayers. We must thrust out a little from the land--that is, from attachments and affections of earth, before we can fully launch ourselves into the deep of perfect spiritual union with God.

Do we "thrust out from the land" when we pray? And have we Jesus Christ in the vessel of our heart when we make the launch? Our prayers, to be good for anything, should have four characteristics: they should be recollected, detached, definite, and persevering. 1.

Before we begin to pray, we must place ourselves in God's presence. We must collect all the powers of our minds and hearts, and set them on the one supreme object. The Memory must be called away from every-day affairs, and used to furnish food for our meditation; the Understanding summoned from its ordinary musings on worldly things, to reason and reflect on what we pray for, and Whom we pray to; the Will steadily fixed on God--striving to conform itself to the divine will, producing affections and forming resolutions suitable to our present needs. 2.

Without detachment there can be no recollection. We must "thrust out from the land." And how can we do this if the vessel of our soul is moored to the shore by a thousand and one little cords of earthly desire, and worry and care, and anxiety and passion? All these cords must be cut away, and we must "launch out into the deep," if we would pray aright and have God's blessing in ourselves. 3.

Let us have a clear, definite idea of what we are going to pray for. Vague, meaningless generalities are out of place in such a serious business. Let us make up our minds beforehand about what we want, and then pray for that. It will not profit us much to ask for all the Cardinal Virtues and all the Gifts of the Holy Ghost at one time. It will be quite sufficient, and decidedly more profitable, to single out some one virtue of which we stand in special need, and make that the particular burden of our prayers and thoughts and efforts for weeks, and months and years, if necessary, until we gain it. 4.

And this, after all, is the true test of a genuine prayer--perseverance. "We have labored all the night, and have taken nothing; but at Thy word I will let down the net." "Never despair'' is the Christian's motto. Never mind how long we may have labored and prayed in vain; never mind how weary the spirit, or how weak the flesh; never mind how little seems our progress and how far away the ''mark of the prize of our supernal vocation." God will, as He has promised, finally and gloriously reward our perseverance. "To Him that overcometh I will give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of My God." 

Fr. Voigt, (Interior Life & Prayer) "An Evening Of 3's"