PRAYER OF THE CHURCH. O God, from whom all good things proceed: grant to Thy suppliants, that by Thy inspiration we may think those things that are right, and by Thy guidance may perform the same. Through &c.
EPISTLE. (James I. 22 - 27.) DEARLY BELOVED, Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if a man be a hearer of the word and not a doer, he shall be compared to a man beholding his own countenance in a glass: for he beheld himself and went his way, and presently forgot what manner of man he was. But he that hath looked into the perfect law of liberty, and hath continued therein, not becoming a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. And if any man think himself to be religious, not bridling his tongue, but deceiving his own heart, this man's religion is vain. Religion clean and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit the fatherless, and widows in their tribulation, and to keep one's self unspotted from the world.
EXPLANATION. True piety, as St. James here says, consists not only in knowing and recognizing the word of God, but in living according to its precepts and teachings; in subduing the tongue, the most dangerous and injurious of all our members; in being charitable to the poor and destitute, and in contemning the world, its false principles, foolish customs and scandalous example, against which we should guard, that we may not become infected and polluted by them. Test thyself, whether thy life be of this kind.
ASPIRATION. Jesus! Director of the soul ! Give me the grace of true piety as denned by St. James.
GOSPEL. (John xvi. 23 30.) AT THAT TIME, Jesus saith to his disciples: Amen, amen, I say to you, if you ask the Father anything in my name, he will give it you. Hitherto, you have not asked anything in my name. Ask, and you shall receive, that your joy may be full. These things I have spoken to you in proverbs. The hour cometh when I will no more speak to you in proverbs, but will show you plainly of the Father. In that day, you shall ask in my name: and I say not to you that I will ask the Father for you, for the Father himself loveth you, because you have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God. I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again I leave the world, and go to the Father. His disciples say to him: Behold, now thou speakest plainly, and speakest no proverb. Now we know that thou knowest all things, and thou needest not that any man should ask thee: by this we believe that thou comest forth from God.
Why does God wish us to ask of Him ?
That we may know and confess that all good comes from Him; that we may acknowledge our poverty and weakness which in all things need the help of God; that we may thus glorify Him and render ourselves less unworthy of the gifts which He has promised us.
What is meant by asking in the name of Jesus?
By this is meant praying with confidence in the merits of Jesus, "who," as St. Cyril says, "being God with the Father, gives us all good, and as mediator carries our petitions to His Father." The Church, therefore concludes all her prayers with the words: "Through our Lord, Jesus Christ." It means also that we should ask that which is in accordance with the will of Christ, namely, all things necessary for the salvation of our soul; to pray for temporal things merely in order to live happily in this world, is not pleasing to Christ and avails us nothing. "He who prays for what hinders salvation," says St. Augustine, "does not pray in the name of Jesus." Thus Jesus said to His disciples: Hitherto you have asked nothing in my name, "because," as St. Gregory says, "they did not ask for that which conduces to eternal salvation."
Why is it that God sometimes does not grant our petitions?
Because we often pray for things that are injurious, and like a good father, God denies them to us, in order to give us something better; because He wishes to prove our patience and perseverance in prayer; because we generally do not pray as we ought; to be pleasing to God, prayer should be made when in a state of grace and with confidence in Christ's merits, for the prayer of a just man availeth much; (James v. 16.) we must pray with humility and submission to the will of God, with attention, fervor, sincerity, and with perseverance.
At what special times should we pray?
We should pray every morning and evening, before and after meals, in time of temptation, when commencing any important undertaking, and particularly in the hour of death. God is mindful of us every moment, and gives us His grace. It is, therefore, but just that we think often of Him during the day, and thank Him for His blessings.
How can we, in accordance with Christs teachings, (Luke xviii. i.) pray at all times?
By making the good intention when commencing our work, to do all for the love of God, and according to His most holy will; by raising our hearts to God at different times during the day; frequently making acts of faith, hope, love, and humility, and by repeating short ejaculations, such as: O Jesus! grant me grace to love Thee! Thee only do I desire to love! O be merciful to me! Lord hasten to help me.
What is the signification of the different ceremonies that Catholics use at their prayers?
The general signification is that God must be served, honored and adored, not only with the soul but with the body; when we pray aloud we praise God, not only with the mind, but also with our lips; when we pray with bowed and uncovered head, with folded, uplifted, or outstretched hands, on bended knees, with bowed and prostrated body, we show our reverence and subjection to the majesty of God, before whom we, who are but dust and ashes, cannot humble ourselves enough. These different ceremonies during prayer are frequently mentioned in both the Old and the New Testaments, and Christ and His apostles have made use of them, as for instance, the bending of the knees, falling on the face, &c.
Which is the best of all prayers?
The Lord's Prayer which Christ Himself taught us, and commands us to repeat. When said with devotion, it is the most powerful of all prayers. (Matt. vi. 9 13; Luke xi. 2 4.)
SHORT EXPLANATION OF THE LORD'S PRAYER.
Of what does the Lord's Prayer consist?
IT consists of an address, as an introduction to the prayer, and of seven petitions which contain all that we should ask for the honor of God, and for our own salvation. The address is thus: Our Father who art in heaven.
What does the word "Our" signify?
In the communion of saints we should pray for and with all the children of God; we should be humble and preserve brotherly love towards all men.
Who is it that is here called our "Father" ?
Our Father is God who has made us His children and heirs of His kingdom through His Son.
Why do we say "Who art in heaven", since God is everywhere?
To remind us that our true home is heaven, for which we should ardently long, because our Father is there, and there He has prepared our inheritance.
For what do we ask in the first petition: "Hallowed be Thy name?"
That we and all men may truly know, love, and serve God.
For what do we pray in the second petition : "Thy kingdom come?"
That the Church of God, the kingdom of Christ, may extend over the whole earth, and the kingdom of sin and the devil be destroyed; that Christ may reign in our hearts and in the hearts of all; and that God will deign to receive us into the kingdom of heaven when our earthly pilgrimage is ended.
For what do we ask in the third petition: Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven?"
We beg that God would enable us, by His grace, to do His will in all things, as the blessed do it in heaven.
In these three petitions we seek, as taught by Christ, first the kingdom of God, that all the rest may be added unto us. (Luke xii. 31.)
For what do we ask in the fourth petition: "Give us this day our daily bread?"
We beg for all necessaries for body and souL
Why does it say, "this day?"
The words "this day" signify that we should not be over anxious for the future, but place all our confidence in God who will provide the necessaries of life.
What do we ask for in the fifth petition: "Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us?"
We beg that God will forgive us our sins, as we forgive others their offenses against us. Those who make this petition, and still bear enmity towards their neighbor, lie in the face of God, and will not receive forgiveness. (Mark xi. 25, 26.)
What is asked for in the sixth petition: "Lead us not into temptation?
We ask God to avert all temptations or at least not to abandon us when we are tempted.' We cannot, indeed, be entirely free from them in this world, they are even necessary and useful for our salvation : for without temptation there is no combat, without combat no victory, and without victory no crown.
What do we ask for in the seventh petition: Deliver us from evil?"
We beg that God would free us from all evil of soul and body.
-Goffine's Devout Instruction, Imprimatur 1888 -