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

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”

The Significance of the ‘Stone Jars’ at the Wedding in Cana

Mary comes to Jesus and reports that the wine for the wedding feast had run out. He answers,

“Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.”

In Greek “woman” (guné) has a broader range of meaning than the English equivalent. It’s more often the word for “wife” in the New Testament, as it is in Hebrew and Aramaic. Jesus prefers it for a personal reason since there is no precedent in the Bible for calling your mother “wife”.

Jesus made numerous references to His “hour” and they all refer to His future Passion: His suffering, death, and resurrection. Since it would have been years away, the reference to it at the beginning of His ministry is curious. Continue reading “The Significance of the ‘Stone Jars’ at the Wedding in Cana”

Judas Lectures Jesus on the Poor

On the eve of Passion Week, Jesus spent the Sabbath at the home of Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, who He had recently raised from the dead. In an act of love and gratitude Mary broke open a container of expensive perfumed oil to anoint Jesus’s feet. John’s eyewitness report has Judas boldly accusing Mary and Jesus of insensitivity towards the poor:

Mary took a liter of costly perfumed oil made from genuine aromatic nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and dried them with her hair; the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil. Then Judas the Iscariot, one [of] his disciples, and the one who would betray him, said, “Why was this oil not sold for three hundred days’ wages and given to the poor?” (John 12 :3-6)

Continue reading “Judas Lectures Jesus on the Poor”

Political Activity is Not the Service of the Kingdom

The account of the feeding of the 5000 as reported in John chapter 6 is really a tragic story; the same people Jesus had miraculously fed eventually rejected Him. Their expectations were for a political solution to their plight, and a king who can produce food instantaneously for thousands of people would have made a good candidate:

When the people saw the sign he had done, they said, “This is truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world.” Since Jesus knew that they were going to come and carry him off to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain alone (vss. 14-15).

He gives them the slip until they catch up to Him in Capernaum: Continue reading “Political Activity is Not the Service of the Kingdom”

Conflating the Love Commandments

“I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples” (John 13:34-35).

Note the exclusivity in Jesus’ words; this love is reserved for the disciples and is contrasted with “all”, a reference to current non-followers. This exclusivity obviously bothers Pope Francis who decided to reinterpret the passage in a recent address:

“Why does He call it a ‘new commandment’? The old commandment of love became new because it was complete with this addition: “as I have loved you,” “love one another as I have loved you.” The novelty is all in Jesus Christ’s love, that with which He gave his life for us” (link).

Continue reading “Conflating the Love Commandments”

Jesus Before Pilate: Five Observations of Fulton Sheen

Ecce Homo by Antonio Ciseri c. 1880

Possessing exceptional knowledge and wisdom, the Archbishop uncovers meanings in biblical texts that would be otherwise easy to miss.

1. After Jesus’ arrest and trial by the Sanhedrin, Friday morning He was taken to Pontius Pilate with a demand for his execution; Pilate responded,

“What charge do you bring against this man?” (John 18:29).

Continue reading “Jesus Before Pilate: Five Observations of Fulton Sheen”

Was Jesus’ Temple Clearing on Behalf of Gentiles?

Court of the Gentiles

After His triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday Jesus headed to the Temple, making a whip out of cords and driving out of the Temple area not just those selling doves and changing money, but sheep and oxen as well. People who’ve studied Temple practices in the first-century find this story curious since this type of commerce was acceptable and necessary. Continue reading “Was Jesus’ Temple Clearing on Behalf of Gentiles?”

Lessons from Psalm 51 for the Summit

“…A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came to him after he had gone in to Bathsheba.”

Psalm 51 was the result of a sex crime. It should have been the theme of the summit of bishops in Rome. The abuse, it’s cover-up, and the pain it has caused cannot be undone. More transparency, apologizing to the victims and their families, offers of compensation, are all the right things to do, but won’t undo the damage.

Only a renewed spirit on the part of the clergy as a result of repentance, contrition, and humility will solve the abuse crisis:

“For you do not desire sacrifice or I would give it; a burnt offering you would not accept. My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit; a contrite, humbled heart, O God, you will not scorn” (vss. 18-19).

It is interesting that David’s self-reflection on his transgressions, specifically adultery and murder, do not include a mention of either one. The gravity of killing someone’s husband so you can take his wife was less of a crime against Uriah and Bathsheba than a grievous disobedience of God’s law. God sent the prophet Nathan to David charging, Continue reading “Lessons from Psalm 51 for the Summit”

Five Reasons to Proclaim Christian Truths Fearlessly

 

Emperor Nero used Christians as torches

Author Saul Bellow once wrote that he would occasionally attend a dinner party and would be asked for his opinion on a politically sensitive issue. His standard answer was non-confrontational: “I support all good policies and oppose all the bad ones.”

While the arrogance and moral bankruptcy behind political correctness will eventually lead to its own destruction, the current emerging generation of social engineers are becoming a serious danger to those who publicly proclaim basic Christian truths. Jesus demands, however, that we speak the truth, and courageously.

Breaking down Matthew 10:24-31, Jesus gives five reasons to speak confidently and without fear in the face of opposition: Continue reading “Five Reasons to Proclaim Christian Truths Fearlessly”