"How Great is the Power of Prayer"
St. Therese |
One simple, sincere prayer acts as a bolt of lightning, piercing the celestial clouds as a clarion to God. Be assured He hears even the most heartfelt whisper above the world's din of the cacophony of chaos.
"Prayer must become a daily habit. In former times we were called by the Angelus bell three times a day, to ponder, with Mary, the great mystery of the Incarnation. Reminders of prayer were all around us - statues and holy pictures in our homes, rosaries in our pockets, scapulars and blessed medals around our necks. Even the secular world in season brought us stories and greeting cards with religious themes, as at Easter and Christmas. Now we are immersed in an anti-prayer and anti-God environment, so that each of us has a personal responsibility to acquire the habit of prayer. We must take it upon ourselves to remember God often during the day. It only takes a moment to say: 'Lord, I believe in You, I hope in You, I love You,' or even just 'Hello, God!' These brief prayers 'pierce the clouds,' says St. Augustine."
Editor's Note: In Father Louis Campbell's sermon for the Seventeenth Sunday After Pentecost, he emphasizes the power of prayer which is our antidote to the world, the flesh and the devil. It is a command that Christ asks for prayer is communication with God, an affection toward God for He so loved us that He gave His only begotten-Son that we might have life - everlasting life - and have it more abundantly. In today's Gospel our Lord clarifies so succinctly the law of the New Testament with the love of God first and the love of neighbor second, out of love for God. There are no humanistic tendencies in the bible, but divine love for the human, created in God's image and likeness. And yet, as St. Peter says, the devil goes about like a roaring lion seeking whom he might devour and, sadly, as Father illustrates, having a feast on clueless souls who are so ravaged by the cacophony of chaos today that they reject prayer as useless and superstitious. They follow another spirit, not the one St. Paul speaks of in today's Epistle to the Ephesians that is the perfect formula for prayer.
And it is a simple prayer that is so powerful as the saints have illustrated and as history has proven, that it pierces the celestial castle in calling on the ramparts of the Church Triumphant to assist the flanks of the Church Militant. Such is an example of "How Great is the Power of Prayer."
[bold and italics below are editor's emphasis.]
Father Louis J. Campbell
How do we walk in a manner worthy of our calling, if we are called to be perfect, since our Heavenly Father is perfect? The Lord Himself answers in today's Gospel: "Love the Lord your God with your whole heart, and with your whole soul, and with your whole mind" (Matthew 22: 37). Only then will we come to resemble our Heavenly Father.
Well, how can we resemble Him if we don't know Him? Simply by spending time in His presence, as the saints did. This time spent in God's presence is called prayer. The saints tried to "pray always," as the Lord advised, and to walk in the presence of God. They didn't always use formula prayers, or even pray in words, although vocal prayer is always good and acceptable. St. Augustine gave a very simple definition of prayer: "Prayer is the lifting up of the mind and the heart to God."
"How great is the power of Prayer!" says St. Therese of Lisieux, whose feast we celebrate this week. "For me," she says, "prayer is an aspiration of the heart, it is a simple glance directed to Heaven, it is a cry of gratitude and love in the midst of trial as well as joy; finally, it is something great, supernatural, which expands my soul and unites me to Jesus" (The Story of a Soul).
But there is another spirit at work, the spirit of this world, which is demonic. What of those who spend their time in the presence of this spirit? The more time they spend immersed in the things of this world, the more they come under its spell. So many people are always connected, literally, with the world, through their I-pod or Blackberry, or their TV, or on the net with their computer. The angry cackling and clattering of this world rings in their ears from morning to night. There is no time left for God. They were made in His image and likeness, but now they are "born again" in the image and likeness of this world. They will die with it.
Of course, this is the fate that was planned for them. They are poor lambs led to the slaughter by the enemies of God and of His Church, and their instruments of execution are the very things they find they can't do without. They are consumed by them. We could call these instruments the devil's sacraments. Through them their minds and habits are perverted, so that they think sin is normal, and holiness is impossible. They must live like the yahoos around them. Give them their beer and the dehumanizing drivel on TV.
To them Jesus Christ was just another man with a man's failings, a preacher Who tried to stand up to the Romans and the Jews who consorted with them, but lost His life trying. And if that's all He was, the Catholic Church becomes a joke, its sacraments meaningless rituals that serve to enslave the masses. The Catholic Church must be destroyed! Theirs is the cry of Voltaire: "Crush the infamous thing!"
Perhaps fifty years ago in speaking of priests, Sister Lucy of Fatima put her finger directly on the problem. "The problem," she said, "is that they have forgotten how to pray." And those who forget how to pray forget God and are deceived by the spirit of this world, the devil.
The great spiritual masters, such as St. Teresa of Avila in her book, The Interior Castle, speak about the Interior Life, and the indwelling of the Holy Trinity in the depths of the soul. When we pray, we should retreat into that interior place to be alone with God, and to be nourished and restored by Him. Jesus explains: "But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father Who sees in secret will repay you" (St. Matthew 6:6). Prayer, He says, will deliver us from the disasters that are to come, and will bring us at last into His presence: "Watch, then, praying at all times, that you may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that are to be, and to stand before the Son of Man" (St. Luke 21:36).
Prayer must become a daily habit. In former times we were called by the Angelus bell three times a day, to ponder, with Mary, the great mystery of the Incarnation. Reminders of prayer were all around us - statues and holy pictures in our homes, rosaries in our pockets, scapulars and blessed medals around our necks. Even the secular world in season brought us stories and greeting cards with religious themes, as at Easter and Christmas. Now we are immersed in an anti-prayer and anti-God environment, so that each of us has a personal responsibility to acquire the habit of prayer. We must take it upon ourselves to remember God often during the day. It only takes a moment to say: "Lord, I believe in You, I hope in You, I love You," or even just "Hello, God!" These brief prayers "pierce the clouds," says St. Augustine.
All authentic prayer is Trinitarian. We notice that the Church in her liturgical prayers - the prayers of the Mass and the Sacraments - always prays to the Father, but through the Son, and in the Holy Ghost, although the Church at times addresses her prayers directly to the Son, as on the Feast of Christ the King, or to the Holy Ghost, as at Pentecost.
In fact it is necessary for salvation to believe in the Holy Trinity, and in the Divinity of Jesus Christ, and in His all-atoning Sacrifice upon the Cross, mysteries that are explicitly denied by Muslims and Jews, most recently by Al-Zawahri, deputy leader of Al-Qaida, who called upon Benedict XVI "and all of the Christians to become Muslims who do not recognize the Trinity or the crucifixion" (msnbc.msn.com/id/15064373/).
St. Alphonsus Liguori writes:
"Prayer is the most necessary weapon of defense against our enemies; he who does not avail himself of it, says St. Thomas, is lost. He does not doubt that Adam fell because he did not recommend himself to God when he was tempted: 'He sinned because he had not recourse to the divine assistance.' St. Gelasius says the same of the rebel angels: 'Receiving the grace of God in vain, they could not persevere, because they did not pray.' St. Charles Borromeo, in a pastoral letter, observes, that among all the means of salvation recommended by Jesus Christ in the Gospel, the first place is given to prayer; and he has determined that this should distinguish his Church from all false religions, when he calls her 'the house of prayer.' 'My house is a house of prayer' (St. Matthew 21:13)" (Necessity and Power of Prayer).
"How great is the power of prayer!" With the Church let us pray to the Triune God: Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost! As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.