Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Practice of Prayer

This post comes from Father Barron's blog Word on Fire.  I post this link as a reminder of how prayer and suffering are powerful means by which those who mourn for family and friends who have fallen away from the Church established by Jesus Christ can serve as intercessors on their behalf. As we enter into the most Holy Week of the liturgical year let us remember to join our prayer and sufferings with Jesus our Lord.

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Prayer is one of the three classical penitential practices of Lent. It serves as the ground in which the two other practices, fasting and almsgiving, must be rooted. Father Barron offers a reflection on this essential participation in the Divine Life.
“I am almost hesitant to speak of prayer because the usual descriptions of it have become so vague, abstract, and unchristian. But particular modes of prayer are indispensable practices of the first path [to holiness], since they are conscious attempts to focus our lives on Christ the center. First, as we saw, when Christians pray, they are not addressing God from some external standpoint; they are not approaching the divine simply as a seeker or supplicant or penitent. They are in the divine life, speaking to the Father, through the Son and in the Holy Spirit. It has been said that Christian prayer is listening intently as the Father and the Son speak about you. It is this peculiar intimacy—praying in God and not just to him—that gives the Christian practice of prayer its unique texture..."
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SUFFERING. The disagreeable experience of soul that comes with the presence of evil or the privation of some good. Although commonly synonymous with pain, suffering is rather the reaction to pain, and in this sense suffering is a decisive factor in Christian spirituality. Absolutely speaking, suffering is possible because we are creatures, but in the present order of Providence suffering is the result of sin having entered the world. Its purpose, however, is not only to expiate wrongdoing, but to enable the believer to offer God a sacrifice of praise of his divine right over creatures, to unite oneself with Christ in his sufferings as an expression of love, and in the process to become more like Christ, who, having joy set before him, chose the Cross, and thus "to make up all that has still to be undergone by Christ for the sake of His body, the Church" (I Colossians 1:24). (Etym. Latin sufferre, to sustain, to bear up: sub-, up from under + ferre, to bear.) Modern Catholic Dictionary; John A. Hardon, S.J.

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