St. Michael's Parish - Cobourg

Part Four: Christian Prayer -Homily October 26, 2013


The publican and the Pharisee pray, but their prayer is different. What is prayer? "For me, prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy." (St. Therese of Lisieux) (2558)



1. Prayer as God's Gift

"Prayer is the raising of one's mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God." (St. John Damascene) But when we pray, do we speak from the height of our pride and will, or "out of the depths" of a humble and contrite heart? He who humbles himself will be exalted; humility is the foundation of prayer. Only when we humbly acknowledge that "we do not know how to pray as we ought," that God may have other plans for us, are we ready to receive freely the gift of prayer. "Man is a beggar before God." (2559)


In order to explain the dynamics of prayer, the Catechism uses the passage of the Samaritan (cf. John 4:1-42). If you remember, the Samaritan woman had come to the well in search of water, and Jesus asked her for some water to drink. The wonder of prayer is revealed beside the well where we come seeking water (that is to say, happiness): there, Christ comes to meet every human being. It is he who first seeks us and asks us for a drink. Jesus thirsts; his asking arises from the depths of God's desire for us. Whether we realize it or not, prayer is the encounter of God's thirst with ours. God thirsts that we may thirst for him. (cf. St. Augustine) (2560) Prayer, then, is not a request to one who is busy with other affairs, but an answer to Gods constant request of love on our side, an answer to his offering of perfect happiness and love. That is also why our prayer is always heard, although we dont receive everything we have asked for. Because God always gives us what is better for our eternal happiness, which is our deepest desire in every request.


Paradoxically our prayer of petition is a response to the plea of the living God:
Prayer is the response of faith to the free promise of salvation and also a response of love to the thirst of the only Son of God. (2561)



2. Prayer as Covenant.

Where does prayer come from? Whether prayer is expressed in words or gestures, it is the whole person who prays. But in naming the source of prayer, Scripture speaks sometimes of the soul or the spirit, but most often of the heart (more than a thousand times). According to Scripture, it is the heart that prays. If our heart is far from God, the words of prayer are in vain. (2562)


There are two lessons here: first, that my prayer must be sincere. I have to try to think and love in my heart what my mouth is speaking. I have to mean what I say. Sometimes we dont even think what we are saying, or we dont understand what we are saying, or worse, we dont agree with it. We need to improve that prayer. Our prayer must be sincere.


The second lesson is the understanding that in prayer we give our heart. Our heart is the depth of our being. It is something we usually dont share with anyone. It is our shrine. The catechism will say that our heart is the place of decision, of our values, of our personal truth (cf. 2563). That is why the Catechism says that if my heart is far from God, our prayer is vain. If in the depth of my heart there is a sin, if deep in my heart I offended God and I am not repented, I cannot pray. If in the depth of my heart I dont believe in God, I cannot pray. That is why prayer is so intertwined with your life, with what you think and do. That is why prayer has a lot to do with faith. If I experience difficulties in prayer, I need to take a look at my heart. Do I try to live according to the will of God? Am I repented of my sins? Do I believe in Jesus? Do I love him; do I want to be with him?


Christian prayer is a covenant relationship between God and man in Christ.
It is the action of God and of man, springing forth from both the Holy Spirit and ourselves, wholly directed to the Father, in union with the human will of the Son of God made man. (2564)



3. Prayer as communion.

In the New Covenant, prayer is the living relationship of the children of God with their Father who is good beyond measure, with his Son Jesus Christ and with the Holy Spirit. The grace of the Kingdom is "the union of the entire holy and royal Trinity with the whole human spirit." Thus, the life of prayer is the habit of being in the presence of the triune God and in communion with him. This communion of life is always possible because, through Baptism, we have already been united with Christ. Prayer is Christian insofar as it is communion with Christ and extends throughout the Church, which is his Body. (2565)


Let us try to make this experience of prayer. It is beautiful to be with a friend and to talk to him. Let us try to realize that God wants to be with us, God wants to speak to us, and is knocking on the door of our hearts so that we let him in. Let us pray more, let us give God the opportunity to love us. Fr. Andrew



Door Collection for Earthquake in the Philippines On Tuesday, October 15, 2013 at 8:12 am, the Philippines was struck by a devastating 7.2 magnitude earthquake. The very centre of the earthquake happened in the very island of Bohol where Fr. Vic, Tony Barol, and Fr. Ace were born and grew up. Historical Churches made of tablets of stones where either utterly destroyed or heavily damaged built by the first missionaries in 1600. Damaging also many churches, houses, roads, bridges and buildings. Bohol has a population of over a million people and has many tourist attractions.

Our parish will do a door collection on November 16/17 after all Masses. If you would like a tax receipt, please put your offering in a separate envelope marked Earthquake with name and address on it. These can be placed in the offertory basket or at the door on the above weekend. Thank you for your support.