Filed under: Catechism
The Church professes this mystery in the Apostles‘ Creed (Part One) and celebrates it in the sacramental liturgy (Part Two), so that the life of the faithful may be conformed to Christ in the Holy Spirit to the glory of God the Father (Part Three).
This mystery, then, requires that the faithful believe in it, that they celebrate it, and that they live from it in a vital and personal relationship with the living and true God. This relationship is prayer.
WHAT IS PRAYER?
2559 “Prayer is the raising of one’s mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God.”2
But when we pray, do we speak from the height of our pride and will, or “out of the depths” of a humble and contrite heart?3
He who humbles himself will be exalted;4 humility is the foundation of prayer,
Only when we humbly acknowledge that “we do not know how to pray as we ought,”5 are we ready to receive freely the gift of prayer.
“Man is a beggar before God.”6
2560 “If you knew the gift of God!”7
The wonder of prayer is revealed beside the well where we come seeking water: there, Christ comes to meet every human being.
It is he who first seeks us and asks us for a drink. Jesus thirsts; his asking arises from the depths of God‘s desire for us.
Whether we realize it or not, prayer is the encounter of God‘s thirst with ours. God thirsts that we may thirst for him.8
2561 “You would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”9
Paradoxically our prayer of petition is a response to the plea of the living God:
“They have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewn out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water!”10
Prayer is the response of faith to the free promise of salvation and also a response of love to the thirst of the only Son of God.11
2562 Where does prayer come from?
Whether prayer is expressed in words or gestures, it is the whole man who prays.
But in naming the source of prayer, Scripture speaks sometimes of the soul or the spirit, but most often of the heart (more than a thousand times).
According to Scripture, it is the heart that prays.
If our heart is far from God, the words of prayer are in vain.
2563 The heart is the dwelling-place where I am, where I live; according to the Semitic or Biblical expression, the heart is the place “to which I withdraw.”
The heart is our hidden center, beyond the grasp of our reason and of others;
only the Spirit of God can fathom the human heart and know it fully.
The heart is the place of decision, deeper than our psychic drives.
It is the place of truth, where we choose life or death.
It is the place of encounter, because as image of God we live in relation:
it is the place of covenant.
2564 Christian prayer is a covenant relationship between God and man in Christ.
It is the action of God and of man, springing forth from both the Holy Spirit and ourselves, wholly directed to the Father, in union with the human will of the Son of God made man.
2565 In the New Covenant, prayer is the living relationship of the children of God with their Father who is good beyond measure, with his Son Jesus Christ and with the Holy Spirit.
The grace of the Kingdom is “the union of the entire holy and royal Trinity . . . with the whole human spirit.”12
Thus, the life of prayer is the habit of being in the presence of the thrice-holy God and in communion with him.
This communion of life is always possible because, through Baptism, we have already been united with Christ.13
Prayer is Christian insofar as it is communion with Christ and extends throughout the Church, which is his Body.
Its dimensions are those of Christ‘s love.14
Filed under: Pastoral Statements
ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS JOHN PAUL II
TO THE COUNCIL OF THE “INTERNATIONAL CATHOLIC CHARISMATIC RENEWAL OFFICE”
Saturday, 14 March1992
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
1. In the joy and peace of the Holy Spirit I welcome the Council of the “International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Office”. As you celebrate the twenty–fifth anniversary of the beginning of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, I willingly join you in giving praise to God for the many fruits which it has borne in the life of the Church. The emergence of the Renewal following the Second Vatican Council was a particular gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church. It was a sign of a desire on the part of many Catholics to live more fully their Baptismal dignity and vocation as adopted sons and daughters of the Father, to know the redeeming power of Christ our Saviour in a more intense experience of individual and group prayer, and to follow the teaching of the Scriptures by reading them in the light of the same Spirit who inspired their writing. Certainly one of the most important results of this spiritual reawakening has been that increased thirst for holiness which is seen in the lives of individuals and in the whole Church.
At the end of this Second Millennium, the Church needs more than ever to turn in confidence and hope to the Holy Spirit, who unceasingly draws believers into the Trinitarian communion of love, builds up their visible unity in the one Body of Christ, and sends them forth on mission in obedience to the mandate entrusted to the Apostles by the Risen Christ. We must be convinced that a deepened awareness of the Person and work of the Holy Spirit responds to the needs of our times, for the Spirit “is at the centre of the Christian faith and is the source and dynamic power of the Church’s renewal” (John Paul II, Dominum et Vivificantem, 2). Indeed, the Holy Spirit is “the principal agent of the Church’s mission” (John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio, 21), sustaining and guiding her efforts to bring the graces of Pentecost to all people.
2. Since the gifts of the Holy Spirit are given for the building up of the Church, you, as leaders of the Charismatic Renewal, are challenged to seek increasingly effective ways in which the various groups you represent can manifest their complete communion of mind and heart with the Apostolic See and the College of Bishops, and cooperate ever more fruitfully in the Church’s mission in the world. On the international level, your Office’s close links with its Episcopal Advisor, Bishop Paul Cordes, and the coordination of Ecclesial Movements and Associations provided by the Pontifical Council for the Laity, are important means for fostering such cooperation, which is so essential for the prudent stewardship of the Spirit’s manifold gifts. Only in this way will the Renewal truly serve its ecclesial purpose, helping to ensure that “the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God” (Col. 2:19).
3. At this moment in the Church’s history, the Charismatic Renewal can play a significant role in promoting the much–needed defence of Christian life in societies where secularism and materialism have weakened many people’s ability to respond to the Spirit and to discern God’s loving call. Your contribution to the re–evangelization of society will be made in the first place by personal witness to the indwelling Spirit and by showing forth his presence through works of holiness and solidarity. “The witness of a Christian life is the first and irreplaceable form of mission” (John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio, 42). What more effective means can there be for drawing those who have lost their spiritual bearings towards that truth which alone can calm the restlessness of the human heart than the living example of fervent Christian believers? To bear witness is to be a powerful leaven among people who perhaps do not fully recognize the value of the salvation that only Jesus Christ can offer.
4. The Charismatic Renewal can also help foster the growth of a solid spiritual life based on the Holy Spirit’s power at work in the Church, in the richness of her Tradition, and particularly in her celebration of the Sacraments. Frequent reception of the Eucharist and regular use of the Sacrament of Penance are essential for a genuine life in the Holy Spirit, for these are the means which Christ himself has given us to restore and sustain the Spirit’s gift of grace. Since the ways of the Spirit always lead to Christ and his Church, and since it is the Spirit himself who guides those he has established as Bishops to care for the Church of God (Cf. Acts 20:28), there can be no conflict between fidelity to the Spirit and fidelity to the Church and her Magisterium. Whatever shape the Charismatic Renewal takes – in prayer groups, in covenant communities, in communities of life and service – the sign of its spiritual fruitfulness will always be a strengthening of communion with the universal Church and the local Churches.
Your role as a coordinating organization is to help all these various facets of the Renewal to work together in union with the Pastors of the Church for the good of the whole Body. At the same time, the deepening of your Catholic identity by drawing from the spiritual wealth of the Catholic Tradition is an irreplaceable part of your contribution to genuine ecumenical dialogue which, fostered by the grace of the Holy Spirit, must lead to the perfection of “fellowship in unity: in the confession of one faith, in the common celebration of divine worship and in the fraternal harmony of the family of God” (Unitatis Redintegratio, 2).
5. Dear friends: at the beginning of this Lenten season, I pray that your work will contribute to the growth of the Church, in fidelity to the Lord’s will and to the mission which she has received. I commend all of you to the loving intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church, who “through the same faith which made her blessed…, is present in the Church’s mission, present in the Church’s work of introducing into the world the Kingdom of her Son” (John Paul II, Redemptoris Mater, 28). May her prayers accompany those who strive to extend the Kingdom of Christ in obedience to the prompting of his Holy Spirit. To all of you I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.
Filed under: Pastoral Statements
REPORT BY Fr. JUAN USMA GÓMEZ*
CATHOLIC-PENTECOSTAL RELATIONS Understanding each other fosters growth, unity
“The greatest threat to the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement in the last two decades of this [20th] century will be the rise and fall of personal kingdoms, because when they fall, as inevitably they must, the faith of those who do not have their eyes on Jesus will fall with them” (4).
Filed under: Pastoral Statements
SOLEMNITY OF PENTECOST 2006
HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
St. Peter’s Square
Sunday, 4 June 2006
Speaking of the tongues of fire (cf. Acts 2: 3), St Luke wants to show Pentecost as a new Sinai, as the feast of the New Covenant, where the Covenant with Israel is extended to all the nations of the earth.
The Church has been catholic and missionary from her birth. The universality of salvation is meaningfully manifested with the list of the numerous ethnic groups to which those who heard the Apostles’ first proclamation belonged (cf. Acts 2: 9-11).
The People of God, which had found its first configuration in Sinai, extends today to the point of surmounting every barrier of race, culture, space and time. As opposed to what occurred with the tower of Babel (cf. Gn 11: 1-9), when people wanted to build a way to heaven with their hands and ended up by destroying their very capacity of mutual understanding, in Pentecost the Spirit, with the gift of tongues, demonstrates that his presence unites and transforms confusion into communion.
Filed under: Uncategorized
CCC 2559 “Prayer is the raising of one’s mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God.”14 But when we pray, do we speak from the height of our pride and will, or “out of the depths” of a humble and contrite heart?15 He who humbles himself will be exalted;16 humility is the foundation of prayer, Only when we humbly acknowledge that “we do not know how to pray as we ought,”17 are we ready to receive freely the gift of prayer. “Man is a beggar before God.”18
Filed under: Discernment
(a) Faith and Reason.
“Believe that you may understand,” says Augustine; but he also says, “understand that you may believe.” Belief is “to think with assent.” This is a conviction that comes from a basic classroom experience: one cannot progress much in one’s studies unless one learns first to trust in the teacher’s word. Understanding — the exercise of the faculty of reason — works on data that are often received on trust. Thus, reason is complimented by faith. It is also a given experience that what one has learned on the word of another, is deepened and perfected in research and inquiry. In this second case, reason builds on what has been heard, noted and memorized. This whole learning process applies even to the big questions of life: “Who am I?” “What am I here for?” “What is happiness?” “How can I be happy?” “Why is there so much evil?” etc. To these questions, the Church — Mother and Teacher — hands on what she herself has received from the deposit of faith entrusted to her. What the Church gives is not a product of human research done according to accepted scientific principles; rather, what she gives comes from quite another source, God — the Creator of all. The reasoning of a Christian works within the ambit provided by God’s revelation regarding Himself, the world and man, as interpreted by the Church. This way, the Christian is assured of a way of looking at things that is not arbitrary but guaranteed by the authority of the Revealer Himself. “Faith” and “Science” cannot be in conflict so long as we remember that “Faith” answers the question “Why?” while “Science” answers the question “How?” This means that one can be a good scientist without ceasing to be a Christian. And, in fact, it is the Church’s conviction that real Christians make excellent scientists.
Filed under: Discernment
It is not possible to synthesize all that Augustine thinks of prayer in just a few paragraphs. Let me suffice to say that Augustine’s concept of prayer does not substantially differ from the one which Catholic doctrine teaches us. However, Augustine does say certain things about prayer which need to be pointed out. For Augustine, prayer is not an imposed ritual “to be carried out daily from a sense of obligation. Rather, it is the breath of the soul, the spontaneous expression of his faith, hope and love in which he shakes off the limits placed on him by time and duties to enjoy the liberating embrace of the God who dwells in the most intimate core of his being34.” Prayer, therefore, is not some kind of extra duty imposed upon a person; rather, it is as natural and necessary as breathing. Its necessity derives from the fact that man is indigens Deo, a being-in-need-of-God. Or to put it bluntly: to be human is to pray. Hence, the Apostle himself urges the disciples to pray “without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17). Augustine explains it this way:
Your desire is your prayer; if your desire is continuous, so too is your prayer. For the Apostle did not speak in vain when he said: Pray without interruption. Is it that we should always be genuflecting, always prostrating, always raising up our hands to fulfill the command to pray without interruption? If this is what we understand praying to be, I do not believe that we can pray without interruption. There is however another prayer, an interior prayer that knows no interruption, and that prayer is your desire. Whatever you are doing, if you desire that Sabbath, you never cease to pray. If you do not wish ever to interrupt your prayer, never cease to desire. Your continuous desire will be your continuous voice. It will grow silent if you cease to love.35
“Your prayer is your desire.” Desire, of course, is that rightly ordered love which we have discussed above (see n. 1, supra). Augustine is deeply convinced of what the Apostle teaches: We do not know what we ought to pray for but the Spirit Himself pleads on our behalf with groans that are inexpressible in words (Vulgate, Rom. 8:26). Indeed, when we truly pray, it is the Spirit who moves us in prayer: “The Holy Spirit, then” Augustine writes, “urges the saints to pray with sighs too deep for words inspiring in them the desire for a good so great that it is as yet unknown but for which we wait on in hope36. It is the same Spirit whom God has poured into our hearts, empowering us to love rightly and to delight in God:
He has given us Himself as the object to be loved, and He has given us the resources for loving Him. Hear from the Apostle Paul in a more explicit way what God has given us so as to empower us to love Him: The love of God is poured into our hearts. How does this happen? Relying perhaps on our own resources? No! How then? Through the action of the Holy Spirit whom He has given us.37
Prayer then is like breathing, a groaning from the depths of one’s being; Augustine also describes it as a cry: “Prayer is a cry that one raises to the Lord.” (Serm 29, 1).
The Role of Scriptures.
These descriptions of prayer that we find in Augustine’s works should not distract us from the idea that prayer is “your speaking with God: when you read (the Scriptures), God speaks to you, when you pray, you speak to God”(In ps. 86). Christian prayer is a dialogue with God; it is a “speaking with” Him who is revealed in the Sacred Scriptures. In fact, the reading of Scriptures educates the Christian on how to relate with God: forming in him the right concept of God, teaching him His ways among His people, and instructing him in the proper way to speak to Him. Father Agostino Trape describes the Augustinian way of reading the Scriptures in the following way:
(I)t is not only reading which could be called a superficial activity, it is not only that study which is only an intellectual activity, not only that meditation which can be reduced to simple internal introspection…but also and above all, it is a combination of listening and dialogue. It involves listening in faith and docile obedience to Him who is present in man and speaks to him, and reveals his love to him and invites him to respond in love…In this listening-dialogue, which is the most beautiful and fruitful form of meditation, prayer takes on, equally spontaneously, the highest forms of contemplation which are, … wonder, admiration, gratitude, adoration, praise, expectation that faith will be replaced by vision and that the divine word of the Scripture, which sounds in time, will give way to the Word which sounds in eternity; which sounds, not through the mediation of signs and creatures, but by itself, immediately38.
“Worded” prayers have their proper place in Augustine’s understanding of prayer as “speaking with God.” The prayers of thanksgiving, adoration, praise, supplication and petition that we use in liturgical, para-liturgical rites and in our devotional practices have value only when the words used are in harmony with the desire of the heart. Augustine gives us this rule in prayer: “When you pray to God in psalms and songs, the words spoken by your lips should also be alive in your hearts.” In this way, our speaking with God becomes an expression of our desire for Him who alone is to be enjoyed and loved.