St. Louis de Montfort on Reciting the ‘Our Father’

In writing his classic The Secret of the Rosary (ca. 1700), Montfort wanted to elevate the experience of praying this medieval devotion as well as underscore its spiritual power:

It is not so much the length of a prayer as the fervor with which it is said which pleases God and touches his heart. A single Hail Mary said properly is worth more than a hundred and fifty said badly.

By “badly” he means rushed or inattentively. While we cannot help involuntary distractions, he warns against willful ones:

How can we expect God to listen to us if we ourselves do not pay attention to what we are saying? How can we expect him to be pleased if, while in the presence of his tremendous majesty, we give in to distractions?

The following is some rich commentary on the Our Father from Montfort’s book:

“Our Father,”

“We should say the Our Father with the certitude that the eternal Father will hear us because it is the prayer of his Son, whom he always hears, and because we are his members. God will surely grant our petitions made through the Lord’s Prayer because it is impossible to imagine that such a good Father could refuse a request couched in the language of so worthy a Son, reinforced by his merits, and made at his behest.”

“Hallowed by thy name.” 

We ask here that all the world may learn to know and adore the attributes of our God, who is so great and so holy. We ask that he may be known, loved and adored by pagans, Turks, Jews, barbarians and all infidels; that all men may serve and glorify him by a living faith, a staunch hope, a burning charity, and by the renouncing of all erroneous beliefs.

“Thy kingdom come.”

That is to say: May you reign in our souls by your grace, during life, so that after death we may be found worthy to reign with thee in thy kingdom, in perfect and unending bliss; that we firmly believe in this happiness to come; we hope for it and we expect it, because God the Father has promised it in his great goodness, and because it was purchased for us by the merits of God the Son; and it has been made known to us by the light of the Holy Spirit.

“Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

[T]his sentence does not mean in the least that we are afraid of people thwarting God’s designs, because nothing whatsoever can happen without divine Providence having foreseen it and having made it fit into his plans beforehand. Rather, when we say these words, we ask God to make us humbly resigned to all that he has seen fit to send us in this life.

 “Give us this day our daily bread.”

By asking for our daily bread, we humbly admit our own poverty and insufficiency, and pay tribute to our God, knowing that all temporal goods come from his Providence. When we say bread we ask for that which is necessary to live; and, of course that does not include luxuries. …We ask for this bread today, which means that we are concerned only for the present, leaving the morrow in the hands of Providence.

“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

Every sin, says St. Augustine and Tertullian, is a debt which we contract with God, and he in his justice requires payment down to the last farthing. …No matter how many they may be, we should go to God with all confidence and with true sorrow for our sins. While sincerely asking God to forgive us as we forgive those who trespass against us, we no longer give way to anger and revenge, we return good for evil and we love our enemies.

“Lead us not into temptation”

To ask God to save us from falling into sin when we are tempted is to give proof that we are fighting laziness and that we are genuinely seeking means to root out vicious habits and to work out our salvation.

“But deliver us from evil.”

The evil of sin, from the evil of temporal punishment and of everlasting punishment, which we have rightly deserved. To pray God to deliver us from evil is to fear his justice, and this will give us true happiness, for the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. It is through the virtue of the fear of God that men avoid sin.

If we mean in our hearts what we say with our lips, and if our intentions are not at variance with those expressed in the Lord’s Prayer, then, by reciting this prayer, we hate all sin and we observe all of God’s laws. 

…rjt

The Resurrection as the ‘First Fruits’

The first letter of St. Paul to the members of the Church in Corinth includes a harsh correction. The apostle had learned that there were among them those who did not believe in the resurrection of the body. Paul’s response provides a theological perspective of Christ’s own bodily resurrection and the five consequences had it not taken place: Continue reading “The Resurrection as the ‘First Fruits’”

Hope in a Time of Crisis

Faith, hope, and love are not qualities that we can generate within ourselves like good habits, but are described by Catholic theologians as “infused virtues”. They are gifts of the Spirit and represent the heart of the Christian experience. The apostle Paul often stressed the supernatural nature of this triad of virtues:

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13). [Note that “belief” and “faith” are the same word in Greek]

Continue reading “Hope in a Time of Crisis”

Embracing the Peace of Christ

St. Junípero Serra

In a period of a few months a global pandemic has erupted causing an economic depression that may not end anytime soon. Add to this widespread social unrest with its goal the eradication of the symbols and memories of the achievements of Western civilization and what seems like a perfect storm has formed.

While it’s hard to see a peaceful outcome to all of this, especially for the Church, we can rest in the promise of a special peace: Continue reading “Embracing the Peace of Christ”

St. Hildegard: Two Clues for Identifying the End Times

Hildegard’s Scivias (abbreviated form of the Latin for “Know the Ways of God”) records of a series of 26 visions encompassing history from creation to the final judgment. The Doctor of the Church reveals two important clues to help us recognize when the last days are unfolding.

“Fleeting Times”

Hildegard receiving and recording her visions.

When she gets to the last days, specifically the time leading up to the Antichrist she comments on the increasingly rapid nature of the passage of time:

All things that are on Earth hasten to their end, and the world droops toward its end (Book III, Vision 11, chap. 1).†

Hildegard’s world was static. In her lifetime (1098-1179) she would see no major technological developments, changing forms of governance, or social customs, etc. Yet she reveals that rapid historical development will be indicative of the last days: Continue reading “St. Hildegard: Two Clues for Identifying the End Times”

Taking Up the Cross

As they led him away they took hold of a certain Simon, a Cyrenian, who was coming in from the country; and after laying the cross on him, they made him carry it behind Jesus Luke 23:26).

Historians generally agree that this would have been just the crossbeam, not the whole cross which would have weighed between 2-300 pounds. Vertical beams, they suggest, were a permanent sight around the outskirts of Jerusalem as crucifixion was common. (There is a counter-argument to this point claiming that the chief priests in Jerusalem would never have permitted the Roman authorities to leave the contaminated blood of criminals in a public venue. Also, close examination of the Shroud of Turin possibly reveals scars caused by Jesus having carried the vertical beam). If, however the historians are correct about the weight of the whole cross, I think it must then have been only the crossbeam that He carried. Continue reading “Taking Up the Cross”

St. Hildegard’s Curious Illuminations

Illumination from the Rupertsberg Manuscript

One of the interesting things about the illuminations that accompany the Rupertsberg manuscript of Scivias (late 12th-century), the book in which Hildegard recorded her visions, is that much of the artwork appears to contradict the text. For example, the ‘Yellow Lion’ is painted red and the ‘Pale Horse’ is kind of a brownish-green. In later manuscripts produced after her death this is not the case. Continue reading “St. Hildegard’s Curious Illuminations”

The Mocking of Christ

In the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Holy Rosary we contemplate the Passion of Christ as things go from bad to worse, beginning with His agony, which reflected a level of anxiety so extreme that it caused His sweat glands to fill with blood. This is followed by the scourging, which according to the Shroud of Turin left Him with about 110 bloody abrasions on His back. But the torture only continued:

Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus inside the praetorium and gathered the whole cohort around him. They stripped off his clothes and threw a scarlet military cloak about him. Weaving a crown out of thorns, they placed it on his head, and a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” They spat upon him and took the reed and kept striking him on the head (Matthew 27:27-31).

Continue reading “The Mocking of Christ”

Now’s the Time to Reevaluate Catholic Prophetic Literature

A poll taken in the U.K. showed that more people believe in ghosts and UFOs than in God. While there’s a natural curiosity in the possibility of the existence of the supernatural, hence the popularity of movies like The Exorcist, it doesn’t necessarily lead people to God. St. Paul explains this curious phenomenon:

Now the natural person does not accept what pertains to the Spirit of God, for to him it is foolishness, and he cannot understand it, because it is judged spiritually. The spiritual person, however, can judge everything… (1 Cor. 2:12-15).

Continue reading “Now’s the Time to Reevaluate Catholic Prophetic Literature”

Dawn of the Grey Wolf?

In COVID-13 the leaders of the world have been dealt a hand of cards that revealed a big fat ‘Catch-22’. On the one hand little was known about the severity of the virus and inaction might have caused unpleasant scenes of overwhelmed hospitals like we saw in Wuhan, China and Northern Italy.

On the other hand, shutting down entire economies of the Western world indefinitely can only guarantee another depression. The debt burdens and expenses of governments, corporations, and individuals cannot be serviced if everything is closed. A negative-feedback loop is currently underway that may take years to unwind. 2020 will be the year historians use to mark an abrupt end of an era. Continue reading “Dawn of the Grey Wolf?”