Monday, 5 October 2009

Patristic wisdom.

The Lord Jesus also taught you about the goodness of the Father, who knows how to give good things: and so you should ask for good things from the One who is good. Jesus told us to pray urgently and often, so that our prayers should not be long and tedious but short, earnest and frequent. Long elaborate prayers overflow with pointless phrases, and long gaps between prayers eventually stretch out into complete neglect.

Next he advises that when you ask forgiveness for yourself then you must take special care to grant it also to others. In that way your action can add its voice to yours as you pray. The apostle also teaches that when you pray you must be free from anger and from disagreement with anyone, so that your prayer is not disturbed or broken into.

The apostle teaches us to pray anywhere, while the Saviour says Go into your room – but you must understand that this “room” is not the room with four walls that confines your body when you are in it, but the secret space within you in which your thoughts are enclosed and where your sensations arrive. That is your prayer-room, always with you wherever you are, always secret wherever you are, with your only witness being God.

Above all, you must pray for the whole people: that is, for the whole body, for every part of your mother the Church, whose distinguishing feature is mutual love. If you ask for something for yourself then you will be praying for yourself only – and you must remember that more grace comes to one who prays for others than to any ordinary sinner. If each person prays for all people, then all people are effectively praying for each.

In conclusion, if you ask for something for yourself alone, you will be the only one asking for it; but if you ask for benefits for all, all in their turn will be asking for them for you. For you are in fact one of the “all.” Thus it is a great reward, as each person’s prayers acquire the weight of the prayers of everyone. There is nothing presumptuous about thinking like this: on the contrary, it is a sign of greater humility and more abundant fruitfulness.

From a sermon of St Ambrose.

This really ought to be put on any parish intercessors little guide list of what to do and why we do it. Sunday's intercession were very good - except for the two times when the intercessor told God what we were praying from, why we were praying for it and how long the Congregation had been supporting the project. Less than a month after an intercessors workshop. And people wonder why the clergy stress! Were you listening? God knows and the Prayers of the People is not the ideal spot for an infomercial - notices before or after the service please!

Today I went to Fr John Paul's funeral Mass in Spikey Mike's. And it was a wonderful celebration of a priestly life that has moved into the next phase of it's realised eschatology: he is not dead, he lives in the reality of the Resurrection he lived in this world. I also wore clericals for the 1st time in 6 months. It felt a little odd, but I also felt very much part of the SEC family. So I am living the new part of my priestly life not in a parish but in a new reality which is present but still to be revealed in its fullness. Hope is not dead, but seeing through a glass darkly is the name of the game just now! But that's dark as in unclear, not dark as in depressed.

1 comment:

  1. But that's dark as in unclear, not dark as in depressed.

    I hear you. And what a beautiful way of stating the feeling.