Sunday, April 20, 2008

My Way Sunday
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happy pesach / passover
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how shall i pray?
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Regarding the laity during the mass, Pope Benedict XVI says in The Spirit of the Liturgy, “It must be plainly evident that the oratio (prayer/praying) is at the heart of the matter.” Elsewhere in the same document, “In this prayerful approach to participation there is no difference between priests and laity.” [from Fr. V.]

This refers to the efficacy and prominence of prayer in the liturgy, not to physical posture or gesture. That is another issue.
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2nd-3rd century instructions for personal prayer
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Origen (c.185-253), priest and theologian
Prayer, 31, 2-3 (©Classics of Western Spirituality)
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"Whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son"

It seems to me that the person who is about to pray should withdraw for a little and prepare himself, and so become more attentive and active for the whole of his prayer. He should cast away all temptation and troubling thoughts and remind himself, so far as he is able, of the Majesty whom he approaches, and that it is impious to approach Him carelessly, sluggishly, and disdainfully; and he should put away all extraneous things. This is how he should come to prayer: stretching out his soul, as it were, instead of his hands; straining his mind toward God instead of his eyes; raising his governing reason from the ground and standing it before the Lord of all instead of standing. All malice toward any one of those who seem to have wronged him he should put away as far as anyone would wish God to put away His malice toward him, if he had wronged and sinned against many of his neighbours or had done anything whatever he was conscious of being against right reason. And although there are a great many different positions for the body, he should not doubt that the position with the hands outstretched and the eyes lifted up is to be preferred before all others, because it bears in prayer the image of characteristics befitting the soul and applies it to the body. I mean that this position must be preferred barring any chance circumstance. For under certain circumstances it is allowed to pray properly sometimes sitting... or even lying down... And kneeling is necessary when someone is going to speak against his own sins before God, since he is making supplication for their healing and their forgiveness. We must understand that it symbolizes someone who has fallen down and become obedient, since Paul says, "For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named" (Eph. 3:14-15). And spiritual kneeling is called this because every single existing creature at the name of Jesus has fallen down before God and humbled himself to Him. The Apostle seems to me to indicate this by the phrase "That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth" (Phil 2:10).
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okay, guys, let's step up to the plate
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a mini-series: leadership requires core values - part 1
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do the right things for the right reasons
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In one of the sermons recorded in Matthew's gospel, he spotlights Jeus' major emphasis on values. This week we'll look at Mt 6:1-8, 16-18 [NJB-ce].
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1 'Be careful not to parade your uprightness in public to attract attention; otherwise you will lose all reward from your Father in heaven. 2 So when you give alms, do not have it trumpeted before you; this is what the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win human admiration. In truth I tell you, they have had their reward. 3 But when you give alms, your left hand must not know what your right is doing; 4 your alms-giving must be secret, and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you. 5 'And when you pray, do not imitate the hypocrites: they love to say their prayers standing up in the synagogues and at the street corners for people to see them. In truth I tell you, they have had their reward. 6 But when you pray, go to your private room, shut yourself in, and so pray to your Father who is in that secret place, and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you. 7 'In your prayers do not babble as the gentiles do, for they think that by using many words they will make themselves heard. 8 Do not be like them; your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

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16 'When you are fasting, do not put on a gloomy look as the hypocrites do: they go about looking unsightly to let people know they are fasting. In truth I tell you, they have had their reward. 17 But when you fast, put scent on your head and wash your face, 18 so that no one will know you are fasting except your Father who sees all that is done in secret; and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.

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Now we have more instruction regarding prayer. How do we stack-up?

The key thing to remember here is this: we're working towards developing specific core values - values we need if we're going to be leaders in the kingdom here on earth. Now, how do I interpret Matthew's rendering of Jesus' words? How do I apply them?

uncle jim
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5 comments:

Melody said...

We attended a spirituality day yesterday, sponsored by the archdiocese for the deacons and their wives. It is interesting that the topic was "prayer and holiness". Our speaker was a Jesuit emeritus professor from Creighton U. (When I heard that, I thought, wow, I better take along a couple bottles of Mountain Dew. But it ended up being a very good presentation.) The main thought that I took away from it was that God is the initiator. When we pray, it doesn't come from us; it comes from God, who first called us to prayer. Also, we don't pray to become more holy, we are praying in response to the holiness already present. Going to have to mull that over a bit.

Adoro te Devote said...

We've been learning a LOT about prayer and God and all sorts of things...lots of stuff I'll cover this semester that might spawn blog posts now and later.

About the orans...it's only discouraged during MASS, not during private prayer. The symbolis of the priest's prayer position during Mass is significant.

I posted on it a couple years ago, but it needs to be edited as the post does have some incorrect info in it that came just out of a passionate will, not Church teaching.

But what I saw that caused the post was this:

The priest, during the Our Father, stood just beneath the Crucifix, his hands held aloft, palms up and somewhat towards us as he lead the prayer. I was struck by how much he represented Christ, praying in the words of Christ, whose words and whose presence allow us to call God "Father". It is only proper, in that circumstance, to imitate the Deacon and keep our hands folded, allowing our communal prayer to be lead by our earthly spiritual leader, who is praying in the person of Christ, who offers the Sacrifice of the Mass in our name, also in the person of Christ. It's incredible.

Origin had some wonderful ideas and needs his writings to be resurrected; he was guilty of some material heresies which he'd advanced tentatively, but died as an obedient and loyal son of the Church. His material heresies were not declared as such until he was 3 years in the grave.

Anyway...gotta go check the grill....

Want me to grill y'all a steak this July? :-)

uncle jim said...

adoro,
origen's writing i posted was with regard to personal private prayer. i'll have to read farther elsewhere to see what was early church posturing during liturgy, especially after it became more formalized.

re the steak on the grill - my vote says to count on it! gotta be someone around cleveland with a grill.

melody,
yea, i think he pictures a one-way street here. i picture it as two-way.

Melody said...

Jim, I don't think our speaker meant that prayer was a one-way street; just that people don't always think about God's role in moving our hearts to prayer.

uncle jim said...

got it now

i agree this way

God = love

love demands / requires a response

prayer initiates from God

I respond [have to - i could accept it or reject it]

prayer = communion with creator