Tuesday, June 25, 2013

"When you pray do not babble like the pagans do"


Recently Pope Francis spoke in unscripted remarks to a small group of representatives of religious life from South America. His private words made their way into the press and caused some consternation because they took the form of a critique which seemed to take in just about everyone in the Church, including traditional Catholics for what he called a kind of “Pela­gianism” involved in the counting of rosary prayers.

Some reacted with hurt or incomprehension upon hearing of his cri­tique, but I suggest his remarks should be taken to heart. No one in the Church is above criticism. “ All have sinned” and in our weakness we do not always pray as we ought. We should always give reign in our hearts and minds to the Holy Spirit who “ groans” in our beings togeth­er with all creation in longing for the fulfillment of the Kingdom.

The truth which the Holy Father sought to teach is a warning against piling up prayers by emphasizing the counting of them as of greater priority than the prayers themselves. Spiritual bouquets are a venera­ble tradition in the Church, and no doubt that is what the Holy Father was referring to when he mentioned that he had received news of many rosaries prayed for him and for his intentions.

The giving of such a spiritual gift as a bouquet of prayers falls in perfectly with the Holy Father’s renewed emphasis on rejecting materi­alism. Too often special events in our lives center on the giving of ma­terial things. The gift of prayer is to be lauded and no doubt Pope Fran­cis certainly appreciates such a gift.

As our spiritual father it is equally certain, that the Pope has a con­cern that in our life of prayer we avoid the danger warned of by the Lord Himself. He cautioned: “ When you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans for they think they will be heard because of their many words,” with an emphasis on the number of words of prayer or the length of prayers taking on greater importance than the act of pray­ing itself as an engagement of our personhood with intellect and will.

It should not go unremarked that a person can fall into the habit of piling up words in any language, including English.

Many are studying and learning Latin within a wide movement in the Church to support the celebration of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, traditional devotions and music. Because Latin was neglected for many years this interest opens for many Catholics what is a foreign spiritual country necessitating assiduous study for learning how to pray in Latin. Love for tradition must be balanced with the human need to engage the mind and heart in love for God.

With the beauty of tradition comes the responsibility to make the effort to understand what we do so that our humanity and our freedom are engaged, for without these there is no love for faith to touch the Lord and receive His joy.

Catechism of the Catholic Church, in nn. 2740- 2741, tells us how Jesus is our model in prayer: “ The prayer of Jesus makes Christian prayer an efficacious petition. He is its model, he prays in us and with us. Since the heart of the Son seeks only what pleases the Father, how could the prayer of the chil­dren of adoption be centered on the gifts rather than the Giver?

“Jesus also prays for us — in our place and on our behalf. All our petitions were gathered up, once for all, in his cry on the Cross and, in his Resurrection, heard by the Father. This is why he never ceases to intercede for us with the Father. If our prayer is resolutely united with that of Jesus, in trust and boldness as children, we obtain all that we ask in his name, even more than any particu­lar thing: the Holy Spirit himself, who contains all gifts."

(“ Like” Father’s Cusick’s public Facebook page “ Reverendo Padre-Kevin Michael Cusick” to subscribe and follow him on Twitter at MCITL. Fr. Cusick blogs at APriestLife. blogspot. com. Meeting Christ in the Liturgy at mcitl. blogspot. com offers teachings from the Cate­chism of the Catholic Church paired with the Scriptures of the Sacred Liturgy for Sundays and weekdays.)

1 comment:

Tom.Industry said...

Thank you for your service to the people of God!

Thank you for visiting.


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