INSTRUCTION ON THE FIFTH SUNDAY AFTER EASTER
Why does God wish us to ask of Him our prayers?
That we may know and confess that all good comes from Him; that we may acknowledge our poverty and weakness which in all things need the help of God; that we may thus glorify Him and render ourselves less unworthy of the gifts which He has promised us.
What is meant by asking to the name of Jesus?
By this is meant praying with confidence in the merits of Jesus, “who,” as St. Cyril says, “being God with the Father, gives us all good, and as mediator carries our petitions to His Father.” The Church, therefore concludes all her prayers with the words: “Through our Lord, Jesus Christ.” It means also that we should ask that which is in accordance with the will of Christ, namely, all things necessary for the salvation of our soul; to pray for temporal things merely in order to live happily in this world, is not pleasing to Christ and avails us nothing. “He who prays for what hinders salvation,” says St. Augustine, “does not pray in the name of Jesus.” Thus Jesus said to His disciples: Hitherto you have asked nothing in my name, “because,” as St. Gregory says, “they did not ask for that which conduces to eternal salvation.”
Why is it that God sometimes does not grant our petitions?
Because we often pray for things that are injurious, and like a good father, God denies them to us, in order to give us something better; because He wishes to prove our patience and perseverance in prayer; because we generally do not pray as we ought; to be pleasing to God, prayer should be made when in a state of grace and with confidence in Christ’s merits, for the prayer of a just man availeth much; (James V. 16.) we must pray with humility and submission to the will of God, with attention, fervor, sincerity, and with perseverance.
At what special times should we pray?
We should pray every morning and evening, before and after meals, in time of temptation, when commencing any important undertaking, and particularly in the hour of death. God is mindful of us every moment, and gives us His grace. It is, therefore, but just that we think often of Him during the day, and thank Him for His blessings.
How can we, in accordance with Christ’s teachings, (Luke XVIII. 1.) pray at all times?
By making the good intention when commencing our work, to do all for the love of God, and according to His most holy will; by raising our hearts to God at different times during the day; frequently making acts of faith, hope, love, and humility, and by repeating short ejaculations, such as: O Jesus! grant me grace to love Thee! Thee only do I desire to love! O be merciful to me! Lord hasten to help me.
What is the signification of the different ceremonies that Catholics use at their prayers?
The general signification is that God must be served, honored and adored, not only with the soul but with the body; when we pray aloud we praise God, not only with the mind, but also with our lips; when we pray with bowed and uncovered head, with folded, uplifted, or outstretched hands, on bended knees, with bowed and prostrated body, we show our reverence and subjection to the majesty of God, before whom we, who are but dust and ashes, cannot humble ourselves enough. These different ceremonies during prayer are frequently mentioned in both the Old and the New Testaments, and Christ and His apostles have made use of them, as for instance, the bending of the knees, falling on the face, &c.
Which is the best of all prayers?
The Lord’s Prayer which Christ Himself taught us, and commands us to repeat. When said with devotion, it is the most powerful of all prayers. (Matt. VI, 9-13; Luke XI. 2‑4.)