PRAYING WITHOUT CEASING
Today we are conscious of being faced with some very big issues: the worldwide pandemic; the climate change crisis; Poverty and Injustice in the world; the migrant crisis; terrorism, the persecution of Christians; the increasing loss of bio-diversity; the increasing danger of nuclear conflict… Before such challenges we can feel helpless. The problems are too big. Solutions can only come from governments…
As Christians we believe that we can turn to our heavenly Father in prayer for our needs. Jesus says “Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Mt 7:7) What is impossible for man is not impossible for God, so there is something very important that we can do – our prayer is important.
At the heart of a Christian’s prayer is the total love of the Father and for humanity that Jesus, the Son of God made man, made for us all in his death on the cross. He now ‘has gone through to the highest heaven’(Heb 4:14) i.e. he, as our brother, is now in the presence of his heavenly Father interceding on our behalf. He is our great High Priest.
We, as baptized disciples of Jesus, as adopted sons and daughters of the Father, as brothers and sisters of Jesus, we have been given a share in Jesus’ priestly, intercessory role. As we find in the first Letter of Peter ‘You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation’.(1Pet 2:9)
In our priestly role we have been ‘appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins’.(Heb 5:1)
The gifts we can offer are i) the total love of Jesus for his heavenly Father on our behalf that is encapsulated in the Sacrifice of the Mass and ii) all aspects of our daily lives.
Because of Jesus we are encouraged and expected to be “confident in approaching the throne of grace, that we shall have mercy from the Father and find grace when we are in need of help. (Heb 4:16)
What does this entail? How can we put this in practice?
We are all inevitably expected to be engrossed in our daily lives with their ordinary routines, obligations and duties, joys and sorrows. These, however, are precious in God’s eyes. Long periods of formal prayer are certainly not what is called for.
A simple practical way we can adopt is the following:
a) start each day by intentionally uniting ourselves to Jesus and his self-offering and then b) offering all we are and do throughout the day to God, our heavenly Father on behalf of the world.
The following in an excerpt from an article by Michael Beattie S.J. (Jesuits & Friends, Winter 2007 p 11):
First thing in the morning when we awake from sleep, concentrate for a couple of seconds and say to the Lord: ‘Jesus, I offer my day to you’ then get on with all that the day brings. So long as we are not consciously breaking the commandments, all the situations we find ourselves in and the things we have to do become a continual prayer, giving honour and glory to God. It was St Irenaeus, that great bishop of Lyon in France in the second century who exhorted his people with the words ‘ The glory of God is that we live our lives.’
The Holy Father, asks us as we make this daily offering ‘Jesus I offer my day to you’ to unite it with his own prayer; intentions which he proposes month by month for the good of humanity.
All we have to do is to have a sort of permanent intention of offering our day for those requests of the Holy Father. Most of us cannot get to Mass each day of the week but we should remember that somewhere in the world, the Sacrifice of the Mass is being celebrated at every moment. The Holy Father would like us to unite our prayer with the continuous celebration of the Sacrifice of the Mass. In this way our simple daily offering ‘Jesus I offer my day to you’ becomes ‘Apostolic’; we are, as it were, ‘sent’ into our world to work, through our prayer-filled day, to build up the great family of God, the Church.
The following exercise can be added in the early evening. Choose a moment and a) review the day and say ‘Thank you’ for the nice things that have happened, ‘thank you’ for so much we take for granted: our lives, our health, our family and much more. b) Review the day a second time and say ‘sorry’ to the Lord if there have been failures in what we have said or done, failures that alienate us from God or from our neighbour.
This was at the heart of the spirituality of St Terese of Lisieux. This is her daily offering:
Oh my God! I offer You all my actions of this day for the intentions and for the glory of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I desire to sanctify every beat of my heart, my every thought, my simplest works, by uniting them to His infinite merits; and I wish to make reparation for my sins by casting them in the furnace of His merciful love.
Oh my God! I ask of You for myself and for those dear to me the grace to fulfill perfectly Your holy will, to accept for love of You the joys and sorrows of this passing life, so that we may one day be united together in Heaven for all eternity. Amen.
The daily MORNING OFFERING
O Jesus through the Immaculate Heart of Mary I offer you my prayers, works, joys and sufferings of this day in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
I offer them for all the intentions of your Sacred Heart: for the salvation of souls, reparation for sin, the reunion of all Christians.
I offer them for all the intentions of our Bishops and in particular for those recommended by our Holy Father this month. Amen.
(The monthly prayer intentions of the Holy Father can be found on: https://www.popesprayer.va)