Lord, teach me to pray

God alone can teach us how to pray

Quote of the Day
excerpt from chapter 4, How to Pray by Father Jean Nicolas Grou

Notice yet one important point. If when you are meditating or reciting vocal prayers, you feel yourself strongly impressed with the presence of God, and you enjoy a certain sweet calm, and are inwardly drawn to silence, this is a sign that the Holy Ghost is taking special possession of your soul, and that He is communicating to you, on trial as it were by the way, the gift of mental prayer. Then you must be silent and suspend the exercise of your faculties, remaining calm and passive under the operations of the Holy Ghost. For when He acts in a way that is thus sensibly felt, we must in no way disturb His action, but give ourselves up to it by a very simple inward act of consent. If this action of the Holy Ghost were to last some time, or become more frequent, after having asked the advice of some one experienced in the spiritual life,  you would have ground for believing that you were called to real mental prayer and would be obliged to follow the call. In order that we may have the dispositions requisite for receiving the gift of mental prayer, three things are necessary: humility, simplicity, and docility.

In the first place constant humility in everything relating to prayer is indispensable. We must be always willing to depend on the Holy Ghost; we must not rely on our own efforts to acquire devotion, but expect all from God. We must believe ourselves unworthy of His favours, we must not desire them too eagerly, we must not be envious of the souls to which they are granted, we must remain in our own nothingness, and be content to remain there, as in our proper place, we must not aspire to anything exalted. Better would it be for us to pass our whole life in humility and vocal prayer, than that we should conceive the least esteem of ourselves, or prefer ourselves to others on account of our sublime gift of prayer. The greater number of souls whom God has raised from the ordinary path never desired this grace, or thought of it, and did not know in what it consisted. But they were humble. Their first feeling was one of astonishment that God should have deigned to cast a look on them; in calling them to this familiar converse with Himself, God above all proposed to Himself to make them perfect in humility, and if they had not corresponded to His designs they would have fallen lower than they were before.

Simplicity is the true note of all prayer, and nothing pleases God more. He does not wish so much studied preparation in his service; all is spoilt when devotion is reduced to a system, and so much careful arrangement is thought necessary. After all we must ever go back to the Holy Spirit; He alone can teach the right way to converse with God, and when He takes possession of a soul, the first thing He does is to withdraw her from all methods taught by men.

…Oh! how much is accomplished by doing nothing of ourselves, but relying on God to do all in us!

Prayer of the Day

O my divine Savior! Again I beseech Thee, more earnestly than ever, to teach me to pray. Place in me both the remote and proximate dispositions for the prayer of the Holy Ghost. Make me humble, simple, and docile; grant that I may do all in my power to become so. What will my prayer be if the Holy Ghost does not pray with me? And if my prayers are not well said, what will my life be? If it is not a life of sin, still it will be in danger of becoming so, and in any case full of imperfections and subject to heaps of venial sins.

Come, O divine Spirit! come and dwell and act within me. Take entire possession of my understanding and my will; direct their exercise not alone at the time of prayer, but at all times. I can neither glorify God, nor sanctify my soul without Thee. Amen.

[chapter 4, How to Pray, Grou]

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An increase of love

God alone can teach us how to pray

Quote of the Day
excerpt from chapter 3, How to Pray by Father Jean Nicolas Grou

The third quality of prayer is that it must be loving.

God wishes to be no less loved than respected, and the Holy Ghost who is the eternal love of the Father and the Son, inspires no prayer that is not all love, or that does not tend to produce it. Love it is, or at least the desire of love, that should lead the Christian to pray: love should be the final object or the very subject-matter of prayer; and an increase of love should be its fruit. Even when the fear of the judgments of God is the determining motive of the prayer of either the sinner or the just man, still love must always be the end we aim at, and if love does not in some measure enter into our prayer, either as a motive or end, it is not inspired by the Holy Ghost.

This comes back to what I have just said; namely, that it is the heart that prays, and consequently that loves, or aspires to love.

When a sinner asks for the grace of conversion is it not the same thing as asking God the grace to love Him? If his heart be really touched, will he not experience a certain feeling which is a beginning of love? There will be warmth, soul, life in his prayer; if it were cold or indifferent the Holy Ghost would have no part in it. If a just man prays from an impulse to pray, with much greater reason will his prayer be loving, for it is nothing but charity carried out in practice. If his heart were cold and insensible, it would be a sign that grace was not working in him at that moment.

Prayer of the Day

Alas! Lord, I have but too much reason to reflect on my own way of prayer, that so I may condemn and reform it. I do not find in my prayers any of the qualities essential to prayer. Scarcely do I say a single prayer with proper attention; I bring to it a dissipated mind and a cold heart. I show Thee too little respect, either interior or exterior, and still less love. My confidence is weak and wavering, I always have a secret fear that Thou wilt not grant my prayer, I do not do justice to Thy bounty, nor approach Thee as the best of Fathers. Hence comes the want of patience and perseverance. I want to obtain what I ask for, all at once, and without any delay; I give up correcting my faults, practicing virtue and imploring Thy help for this end, because I am not all of a sudden as perfect as my self-love would wish me to be. How can I become good if I pray so badly?

O my Savior! teach me to pray, no longer in my own way nor according to any human methods, but according to the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. May He animate my prayer, and ask in me with the unspeakable groanings mentioned by Thy apostle! Amen.

[chapter 3, How to Pray, Grou]

Think of me, and I will think of thee

 

Quote of the Day
excerpt from chapter 2 of How to Pray by Father Jean Nicolas Grou

The second end of prayer is to consider God in Himself, to adore His supreme Majesty, to contemplate His infinite perfections, to praise Him, to congratulate Him on being alone great, alone holy, alone All Powerful, the external, the immutable, independent Being; to rejoice with Him at His glory and His happiness, to love Him purely for Himself, to desire that all creatures should know Him, love Him, and obey Him; to esteem ourselves happy to be able to contribute in the smallest degree to His glory; to offer ourselves to the fulfillment of His adorable designs.

I will here remark that almost all those persons who limit themselves to vocal prayer, as a rule refer all their prayers to themselves; the more spiritual-minded Christians who make meditation, mostly apply the subject-matter to the amendment of their life, so that their reflections, have no other end but the avoiding sin, the correcting their faults and the acquiring virtues. It is interior souls that are the only ones who make God Himself the principal theme of their meditations, they being wholly devoted to His glory, His love and His adorable Will. This will not seem strange when we reflect that it is God who prays in them, who praises and glorifies Himself through them, and rightly understood, their prayer is the image, more of less perfect, of what He is continually doing in Himself.

The effect of all this should be to teach us how great need we have of being taught by God, and of frequenting the school of His grace, because in our prayers we refer all to ourselves, whereas we ought to refer all to God. Would that once for all we were convinced of a truth, which is no less evident than certain, to wit, that our interests are comprised in His interests; that in loving him we love ourselves; and that He is all the more mindful of us, the more we forget ourselves in order to think exclusively of Him!

Perhaps you say: “But if I do not think of myself, of my spiritual wants, of my salvation, who will think of them for me?” Can you, of yourself, have a thought of these things? Is it not God who puts good thoughts and holy desires into your heart? Does He never put thoughts in your mind that relate expressly to Himself? Why then do you not dwell on them, and why return always to yourself? Is it God, or rather is it not your own self-love that makes you leave Him to think of yourself? …

“My daughter,” said Jesus Christ one day to St. Catherine of Siena, “think of Me and I will think of thee.” He would say the same to each one of us, if we were in the dispositions of this Saint. And why are we not, or at least why do we not labour to acquire her dispositions?

Prayer of the Day

O my God! I plainly see I have not hitherto prayed as I ought; I have not known the great end of prayer. Rarely, perhaps even never, have I come into Thy presence with the sole intention of rendering Thee due homage; it is ever myself, and my needs of all descriptions that I lay at Thy feet. Deeply am I humbled at the imperfection of my prayers, and I beg Thee graciously to pardon me.

O Lord, purify, ennoble, raise my intentions to Thyself, never allow me to keep them fixed on myself. Pray Thyself in me, that my prayer be directed always to Thy glory. Should I in Thy presence have thoughts of anything but Thee? Is it not right that my nothingness should be lost in Thy immensity, and that the sight of my sins and imperfections should excite me to admire and praise Thy infinite holiness? Be Thou then master of my heart and mind in the time of prayer; employ them solely, or at least chiefly in adoring and loving Thee; and may the sentiments that enrapture Thy saints in heaven be frequently my occupation before Thy Altars. Amen.

[from chapter 2, How to Pray by Father Jean Nicolas Grou]

The silent language

Question of the Day

What does He care for words, He who listens only to the heart?

Quote of the Day
excerpt from chapter 1, How to Pray by Father Jean Nicolas Grou

You ask me what is this voice of the heart.

How can I tell you? And how could you understand me? The voice of the heart is love. Love God and your heart will always be speaking to Him; it will always be praying to Him. The germ of love is the germ of prayer; the development and the perfection of love are the development and perfection of prayer. If you do not understand this, you have never yet loved and never prayed. Beg of God to open your heart and light it up with one spark of his love; then will you begin to understand what it is to pray.

But, some may say, does a sinner who prays to God from his heart already love Him? Yes; at least has the beginning of love, otherwise how could he pray from his heart? And it is this love that dictates his prayer. It may not as yet be strong enough to justify him; but it prepares and leads him on to justification. But what about the just man who is distracted, cold and insensible in his prayer? Does not he love God? If it is through his own fault that he is in this disposition, he may have habitual love, as we are supposing him to be a just man; but at this moment he makes no use of his habit of love; love is dormant; he does not pray, his heart is idle, while his tongue is in motion.

Holy souls, who are undergoing the painful trial of dryness and aridity, and whose love is so much the purer, as it is less sensible, must not be alarmed; what has just been said does not apply to them.

If it is the heart that prays, evidently it can sometimes and even habitually pray alone, without words, either expressed or mental. This is just what few people understand and many deny altogether. They must have express and formal acts, at least interior, that are distinctly perceived, and of which the soul is conscious; without such acts they recognize no prayer. They are however mistaken and God has not yet taught them how the heart prays.

Suppose then, a soul so united to God, that to be attentive to prayer it needs no longer explicit acts in these moments of silence and of peace when it heeds not what is passing within it. It prays, and excellently too, with a simple, straightforward prayer that God hears perfectly, although the soul cannot perceive it, being as it were transported out of self by the action of divine grace. The heart is full of thoughts of God, which it is unable to express clearly, and which are so spiritual that they escape its knowledge, but hey are not unknown to God. This prayer so empty of all images, and seemingly inactive, is yet so active that it is, as far as it can be so in this life, pure adoration in spirit and in truth; the adoration that is really worthy of God where the soul is united to Him in its very depths, the created intelligence to the increated intelligence, without the medium of the imagination or of the reasoning powers, or anything beyond a very simple attention of the understanding, and an equally simple application of the will. This is what is called prayer of silence, the prayer of quiet, of simple contemplation, of pure faith, to which God raises by degrees those who have given themselves entirely to Him, and whom He governs by His grace in a most especial manner.

The souls favored with this excellent gift, who read this, will easily understand it, and they will recognize in this the prayer that keeps them as it were annihilated before God, and lost in Him. Others will understand nothing of it, and (using the Gospel phrase) it will be a hidden word to them. Let these begin by respecting what they cannot understand, let them desire to experience the same in order that they may understand it, let it be the object of their prayers, and let them live in such a way as to deserve that God should listen to their prayer.

If there be one favor more than another, which God desires to communicate to us, it is this; but where are the Christians who dispose themselves to receive it by detachment and purity of heart? Where are they who having received the first-fruits of it know how to cultivate them by unreserved correspondence to grace?

Prayer of the Day

O my Divine Master! teach me this silent language that says so much. Teach me to keep myself in interior and exterior silence in Thy presence; to adore Thee from the very depths of my being, to expect all from Thee without asking for anything but the fulfillment of Thy will. Teach me to let Thee act upon my soul and in it produce the simple and general prayer which puts nothing into words, and says everything, which specifies nothing and includes everything. If Thou grantest me this grace how faithfully shall I consecrate to Thee a fixed time each day for prayer! With what joy shall I fulfil this duty, and what care shall I not always take to preserve so precious a gift! But O Lord I know not what I am saying. I speak as if I were capable of making promises, of keeping them, if made, by my own strength, and as if my promises could cause Thee to do me any good. I look at Thy bounty alone; grant me this favour for the glory of Thy name, and add the grace of making good use of it and of meriting its increase. Amen.
[— chapter 1, How to Pray, Father Jean Nicolas Grou]

Live in the presence of the Lord

Feast Days of Our Lady of Perpetual Help and Saint Cyril of Alexandria

Mother of Perpetual Help.jpg

Scriptures of the Day

Psalm: 15:2–3A, 3BC–4AB, 5

He who walks blamelessly and does justice;
who thinks the truth in his heart
and slanders not with his tongue.
R. He who does justice will live in the presence of the Lord.

Who harms not his fellow man,
nor takes up a reproach against his neighbor;
By whom the reprobate is despised,
while he honors those who fear the LORD.
R. He who does justice will live in the presence of the Lord.

Who lends not his money at usury
and accepts no bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things
shall never be disturbed.
R. He who does justice will live in the presence of the Lord.

Gospel: Matthew 7:6, 12–14

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Do not give what is holy to dogs, or throw your pearls before swine,
lest they trample them underfoot, and turn and tear you to pieces.

“Do to others whatever you would have them do to you.
This is the Law and the Prophets.

“Enter through the narrow gate;
for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction,
and those who enter through it are many.
How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life.
And those who find it are few.”

Questions of the Day

  • If you die today, do you believe that you will go to Heaven or Purgatory? Or have you not given the afterlife much thought?
  • Look around at the road you are on. Is it broad and leading to destruction, or does it lead to life?

Prayer to Our Lady of Perpetual Help

 

Reveal for all the light of hope

Feast of Our Lady of Fatima
on the on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the apparitions

Prayer of the Day
From Pope Saint John Paul II’s Consecration of the Modern World to Our Lady of Fatima, May 13, 1982, which he renewed in 1983, and his Consecration of All Individuals and Nations to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, March 25, 1984

“We entrust, O Mary, and consecrate the whole world to your Immaculate Heart!”

Above all creatures, may you be blessed, you, the Handmaid of the Lord, who in the fullest way obeyed the divine call!

Hail to you, who are wholly united to the redeeming consecration of your Son!

Mother of the Church! Enlighten the People of God along the paths of faith, hope, and love! Enlighten especially the peoples whose consecration and entrustment by us you are awaiting. Help us to live in the truth of the consecration of Christ for the entire human family of the modern world.

In entrusting to you, O Mother, the world, all individuals and peoples, we also entrust to you this very consecration of the world, placing it in your motherly Heart.

Immaculate Heart! Help us to conquer the menace of evil, which so easily takes root in the hearts of the people of today, and whose immeasurable effects already weigh down upon our modern world and seem to block the paths towards the future!

From famine and war, deliver us.

From nuclear war, from incalculable self-destruction, from every kind of war, deliver us.

From sins against the life of man from its very beginning, deliver us.

From hatred and from the demeaning of the dignity of the children of God, deliver us.

From every kind of injustice in the life of society, both national and international, deliver us.

From readiness to trample on the commandments of God, deliver us.

From attempts to stifle in human hearts the very truth of God, deliver us.

From the loss of awareness of good and evil, deliver us.

From sins against the Holy Spirit, deliver us, deliver us.

Accept, O Mother of Christ, this cry laden with the sufferings of all individual human beings, laden with the sufferings of whole societies.

Help us with the power of the Holy Spirit to conquer all sin: individual sin and the ‘sin of the world’, sin in all its manifestations.

Let there be revealed, once more, in the history of the world the infinite saving power of the Redemption: the power of merciful Love! May it put a stop to evil! May it transform consciences! May your Immaculate Heart reveal for all the light of Hope!”

Prayer and Consecration Resources

Question of the Day

What was the message of Fatima?

War is man’s punishment for sin. God desires to give us his peace. Do we desire to receive it? The Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to three innocent shepherd children and through them tells us how (pray the Rosary daily for peace in the world). More specifically, Our Lady asked the children for prayer, penance, reparation, and sacrifice, which they did with great fervor to help convert and save sinners.

Will we listen and convert, or will we continue to choose war?