Catechism of the Catholic Church Part 4A
catechism of the catholic church
PRAYER IN THE CHRISTIAN LIFE
2558 "Great is the mystery of the faith!" The Church professes this mystery in the Apostles' Creed (Part One) and celebrates it in the sacramental liturgy (Part Two), so that the life of the faithful may be conformed to Christ in the Holy Spirit to the glory of God the Father (Part Three). This mystery, then, requires that the faithful believe in it, that they celebrate it, and that they live from it in a vital and personal relationship with the living and true God. This relationship is prayer.
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.1
Prayer as God's gift
2563 The heart is the dwelling-place where I am, where I live; according to the Semitic or Biblical expression, the heart is the place "to which I withdraw." The heart is our hidden center, beyond the grasp of our reason and of others; only the Spirit of God can fathom the human heart and know it fully. The heart is the place of decision, deeper than our psychic drives. It is the place of truth, where we choose life or death. It is the place of encounter, because as image of God we live in relation: it is the place of covenant.
2564 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.
Prayer as communion
3 and the response of God's only Son on coming into the world: "Lo, I have come to do your will, O God."4 Prayer is bound up with human history, for it is the relationship with God in historical events.
Creation - source of prayer
5 Noah's offering is pleasing to God, who blesses him and through him all creation, because his heart was upright and undivided; Noah, like Enoch before him, "walks with God."6 This kind of prayer is lived by many righteous people in all religions.
In his indefectible covenant with every living creature,7 God has always called people to prayer. But it is above all beginning with our father Abraham that prayer is revealed in the Old Testament.
God's promise and the prayer of Faith
11 After that, once God had confided his plan, Abraham's heart is attuned to his Lord's compassion for men and he dares to intercede for them with bold confidence.12
2574 Once the promise begins to be fulfilled (Passover, the Exodus, the gift of the Law, and the ratification of the covenant), the prayer of Moses becomes the most striking example of intercessory prayer, which will be fulfilled in "the one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus."19
2577 From this intimacy with the faithful God, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love,23 Moses drew strength and determination for his intercession. He does not pray for himself but for the people whom God made his own. Moses already intercedes for them during the battle with the Amalekites and prays to obtain healing for Miriam.24 But it is chiefly after their apostasy that Moses "stands in the breach" before God in order to save the people.25 The arguments of his prayer - for intercession is also a mysterious battle - will inspire the boldness of the great intercessors among the Jewish people and in the Church: God is love; he is therefore righteous and faithful; he cannot contradict himself; he must remember his marvelous deeds, since his glory is at stake, and he cannot forsake this people that bears his name.
David and the prayer of the king
2578 The prayer of the People of God flourishes in the shadow of God's dwelling place, first the ark of the covenant and later the
28In the Psalms David, inspired by the Holy Spirit, is the first prophet of Jewish and Christian prayer. The prayer of Christ, the true Messiah and Son of David, will reveal and fulfill the meaning of this prayer.
2583 After Elijah had learned mercy during his retreat at the Wadi Cherith, he teaches the widow of Zarephath to believe in The Word of God and confirms her faith by his urgent prayer: God brings the widow's child back to life.33
The sacrifice on
Finally, taking the desert road that leads to the place where the living and true God reveals himself to his people, Elijah, like Moses before him, hides "in a cleft of he rock" until the mysterious presence of God has passed by.34 But only on the mountain of the Transfiguration will Moses and Elijah behold the unveiled face of him whom they sought; "the light of the knowledge of the glory of God [shines] in the face of Christ," crucified and risen.35
2586 The Psalms both nourished and expressed the prayer of the People of God gathered during the great feasts at
2588 The Psalter's many forms of prayer take shape both in the liturgy of the
2593 The prayer of Moses responds to the living God's initiative for the salvation of his people. It foreshadows the prayer of intercession of the unique mediator, Christ Jesus.
2594 The prayer of the People of God flourished in the shadow of the dwelling place of God's presence on earth, the ark of the covenant and the
2595 The prophets summoned the people to conversion of heart and, while zealously seeking the face of God, like Elijah, they interceded for the people.
2596 The Psalms constitute the masterwork of prayer in the Old Testament. They present two inseparable qualities: the personal, and the communal. They extend to all dimensions of history, recalling God's promises already fulfilled and looking for the coming of the Messiah.
2597 Prayed and fulfilled in Christ, the Psalms are an essential and permanent element of the prayer of the Church. They are suitable for men of every condition and time.
3 Gen 3:9, 13.
4 Heb 10:5-7.
5 Cf. Gen 4:4,26; Gen 5:24.
6 Gen 6:9; 8:20-9:17.
7 Gen 9:8-16.
8 Gen 12:4.
9 Cf. Gen 15:2 f.
10 Cf. Gen 15:6; 17:1 f.
11 Cf. Gen 18:1-15; Lk 1:26-38.
12 Cf. Gen 18:16-33.
13 Heb 11:17.
14 Gen 22:8; Heb 11:19
15 Rom 8:32.
16 Cf. Rom 8:16-21.
17 Cf. Gen 28:10-22.
18 Cf. Gen 32:24-30; Lk 18:1-8.
19 1 Tim 2:5.
20 Ex 3:1-10.
21 Ex 33:11.
22 Num 12:3,7-8.
23 Cf. Ex 34:6.
24 Cf. Ex 17:8-12; Num 12:13-14.
25 Ps 106:23; cf. Ex 32:1-34:9.
26 1 Sam 3:9-10; cf. 1:9-18.
27 1 Sam 12:23.
28 Cf. 2 Sam 7:18-29.
29 1 Kings 8:10-61.
30 Ps 24:6.
31 1 Kings 18:39.
32 Jas 5:16b-18.
33 Cf. 1 Kings 17:7-24.
34 Cf. 1 Kings 19:1-14; cf. Ex 33:19-23.
35 2 Cor 4:6; cf. Lk 9:30-35.
36 Cf. Am 7:2, 5; Isa 6:5,8,11; 1:6; 15:15-18; 20:7-18.
37 Ezra 9:6-15; Neh 1:4-11; Jon 2:3-10; Tob 3:11-16; Jdt 9:2-14.
38 Cf. GILH, nn. 100-109.
39 DV 2.
40 St. Ambrose, In psalmum 1 enarratio, 1,9:PL 14,924; LH, Saturday, wk 10, OR.
PRAYER IN THE CHRISTIAN LIFE
THE REVELATION OF PRAYER
IN THE FULLNESS OF TIME
2598 The drama of prayer is fully revealed to us in the Word who became flesh and dwells among us. To seek to understand his prayer through what his witnesses proclaim to us in the Gospel is to approach the holy Lord Jesus as Moses approached the burning bush: first to contemplate him in prayer, then to hear how he teaches us to pray, in order to know how he hears our prayer.
2600 The Gospel according to St. Luke emphasizes the action of the Holy Spirit and the meaning of prayer in Christ's ministry. Jesus prays before the decisive moments of his mission: before his Father's witness to him during his baptism and Transfiguration, and before his own fulfillment of the Father's plan of love by his Passion.43 He also prays before the decisive moments involving the mission of his apostles: at his election and call of the Twelve, before Peter's confession of him as "the Christ of God," and again that the faith of the chief of the Apostles may not fail when tempted.44 Jesus' prayer before the events of salvation that the Father has asked him to fulfill is a humble and trusting commitment of his human will to the loving will of the Father.
45 In seeing the Master at prayer the disciple of Christ also wants to pray. By contemplating and hearing the Son, the master of prayer, the children learn to pray to the Father.
2604 The second prayer, before the raising of Lazarus, is recorded by St. John.50 Thanksgiving precedes the event: "Father, I thank you for having heard me," which implies that the Father always hears his petitions. Jesus immediately adds: "I know that you always hear me," which implies that Jesus, on his part, constantly made such petitions. Jesus' prayer, characterized by thanksgiving, reveals to us how to ask: before the gift is given, Jesus commits himself to the One who in giving gives himself. The Giver is more precious than the gift; he is the "treasure"; in him abides his Son's heart; the gift is given "as well."51
The priestly prayer of Jesus holds a unique place in the economy of salvation.52 A meditation on it will conclude Section One. It reveals the ever present prayer of our High Priest and, at the same time, contains what he teaches us about our prayer to our Father, which will be developed in Section Two.
Abba . . . not my will, but yours."),53 but even in his last words on the Cross, where prayer and the gift of self are but one: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do";54 "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise", "Woman, behold your son" - "Behold your mother";56 "I thirst.";57 "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?";58 "It is finished";59 "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!"60 until the "loud cry" as he expires, giving up his spirit.61
2610 Just as Jesus prays to the Father and gives thanks before receiving his gifts, so he teaches us filial boldness: "Whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you receive it, and you will."66 Such is the power of prayer and of faith that does not doubt: "all things are possible to him who believes."67 Jesus is as saddened by the "lack of faith" of his own neighbors and the "little faith" of his own disciples68 as he is struck with admiration at the great faith of the Roman centurion and the Canaanite woman.69
2615 Even more, what the Father gives us when our prayer is united with that of Jesus is "another Counselor, to be with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth."81 This new dimension of prayer and of its circumstances is displayed throughout the farewell discourse.82 In the Holy Spirit, Christian prayer is a communion of love with the Father, not only through Christ but also in him: "Hitherto you have asked nothing in my name; ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full."83
Jesus hears our prayer
88 In the faith of his humble handmaid, the Gift of God found the acceptance he had awaited from the beginning of time. She whom the Almighty made "full of grace" responds by offering her whole being: "Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be [done] to me according to your word." "Fiat": this is Christian prayer: to be wholly God's, because he is wholly ours.
2621 In his teaching, Jesus teaches his disciples to pray with a purified heart, with lively and persevering faith, with filial boldness. He calls them to vigilance and invites them to present their petitions to God in his name. Jesus Christ himself answers prayers addressed to him.
2622 The prayers of the Virgin Mary, in her Fiat and Magnificat, are characterized by the generous offering of her whole being in faith.
41 Cf. Lk 1:49; 2:19; 2:51.
42 Lk 2:49.
43 Cf. Lk 3:21; 9:28; 22:41-44.
44 Cf. Lk 6:12; 9:18-20; 22:32.
45 Lk 11:1.
46 Cf. Mk 1:35; 6:46; Lk 5:16.
47 Cf. Heb 2:12, 15; 4:15.
48 Cf. Mt 11:25-27 and Lk 10:21-23.
49 Cf. Eph 1:9.
50 Cf. Jn 11:41-42.
51 Mt 6:21, 33.
52 Cf. Jn 17.
53 Lk 22:42.
54 Lk 23:34.
55 Lk 23:43.
56 Jn 19:26-27.
57 Jn 19:28.
58 Mk 15:34; cf. Ps 22:2.
59 Jn 19:30.
60 Lk 23:46.
61 Cf. Mk 15:37; Jn 19:30b.
62 Ps 2:7-8; cf. Acts 13:33.
63 Heb 5:7-9.
64 Cf. Mt 5:23-24, 44-45; 6:7,14-15,21,25,33.
65 Cf. Mt 7:7-11,13-14.
66 Mk 11:24.
67 Mk 9:23; cf. Mt 21:22.
68 Cf. Mk 6:6; Mt 8:26.
69 Cf. Mt 8:10; 15:28.
70 Cf. Mt 7:21.
71 Cf. Mt 9:38; Lk 10:2; Jn 4:34.
72 Mk 1:15.
73 Cf. Mk 13; Lk 21:34-36.
74 Cf. Lk 22:40,46.
75 Cf. Lk 11:5-13.
76 Cf. Lk 18:1-8.
77 Cf. Lk 18:9-14.
78 Jn 14:13.
79 Jn 14:6.
80 Cf. Jn 14:13-14.
81 Jn 14:16-17.
82 Cf. Jn 14:23-26; 15:7,16; 16:13-15; 16:23-27.
83 Jn 16:24.
84 Cf. Mk 1:40-41; 5:36; 7:29; Cf. Lk 23:39-43.
85 Cf. Mk 25; 5:28; Lk 7:37-38.
86 Mt 9:27, Mk 10:48.
88 Cf. Lk 1:38; Acts 1:14.
89 Cf. Jn 2:1-12.
90 Cf. Jn 19:25-27.
91 Cf. Lk 1:46-55.
PRAYER IN THE CHRISTIAN LIFE
THE REVELATION OF PRAYER
IN THE AGE OF THE CHURCH
forms of prayer revealed in the apostolic and canonical Scriptures remain normative for Christian prayer.
I. BLESSING AND ADORATION
2628 Adoration is the first attitude of man acknowledging that he is a creature before his Creator. It exalts the greatness of the Lord who made us99 and the almighty power of the Savior who sets us free from evil. Adoration is homage of the spirit to the "King of Glory,"100 respectful silence in the presence of the "ever greater" God.101 Adoration of the thrice-holy and sovereign God of love blends with humility and gives assurance to our supplications.
II. PRAYER OF PETITION
103 In the end, however, "with sighs too deep for words" the Holy Spirit "helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words."104
2633 When we share in God's saving love, we understand that every need can become the object of petition. Christ, who assumed all things in order to redeem all things, is glorified by what we ask the Father in his name.110 It is with this confidence that St. James and St. Paul exhort us to pray at all times.111
III. PRAYER OF INTERCESSION
2636 The first Christian communities lived this form of fellowship intensely.116 Thus the Apostle Paul gives them a share in his ministry of preaching the Gospel117 but also intercedes for them.118 The intercession of Christians recognizes no boundaries: "for all men, for kings and all who are in high positions," for persecutors, for the salvation of those who reject the Gospel.119
IV. PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING
2641 "[Address] one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart."124 Like the inspired writers of the New Testament, the first Christian communities read the Book of Psalms in a new way, singing in it the mystery of Christ. In the newness of the Spirit, they also composed hymns and canticles in the light of the unheard-of event that God accomplished in his Son: his Incarnation, his death which conquered death, his Resurrection, and Ascension to the right hand of the Father.125 Doxology, the praise of God, arises from this "marvelous work" of the whole economy of salvation.126
131 and, according to the traditions of East and West, it is the "sacrifice of praise."
2644 The Holy Spirit who teaches the Church and recalls to her all that Jesus said also instructs her in the life of prayer, inspiring new expressions of the same basic forms of prayer: blessing, petition, intercession, thanksgiving, and praise.
2645 Because God blesses the human heart, it can in return bless him who is the source of every blessing.
2646 Forgiveness, the quest for the Kingdom, and every true need are objects of the prayer of petition.
2647 Prayer of intercession consists in asking on behalf of another. It knows no boundaries and extends to one's enemies.
2648 Every joy and suffering, every event and need can become the matter for thanksgiving which, sharing in that of Christ, should fill one's whole life: "Give thanks in all circumstances" (1 Thess 5:18).
2649 Prayer of praise is entirely disinterested and rises to God, lauds him, and gives him glory for his own sake, quite beyond what he has done, but simply because HE IS.
92 Acts 2:1.
93 Acts 1:14.
94 Cf. Jn 14:26.
95 Acts 2:42.
96 Cf. Lk 24:27,44.
97 Cf. Eph 1:3-14; 2 Cor 1:3-7; 1 Pet 1:3-9.
98 Cf. 2 Cor 13:14; Rom 15:5-6,13; Eph 6:23-24.
99 Cf. Ps 95:1-6.
100 Ps 24, 9-10.
101 Cf. St. Augustine, En. in Ps. 62,16:PL 36,757-758.
102 Cf. Rom 15:30;
103 Rom 8:22-24.
104 Rom 8:26.
105 Lk 18:13.
106 1 Jn 3:22; cf. 1:7-2:2.
107 Cf. Mt 6:10,33; Lk 11:2,13.
108 Cf. Acts 6:6; 13:3.
109 Cf. Rom 10:1; Eph 1:16-23; Phil 1:9-11;
110 Cf. Jn 14:13.
111 Cf. Jas 1:5-8; Eph 5:20; Phil 4:6-7;
112 Cf. Rom 8:34; 1 Jn 2:1; 1 Tim 2:5-8.
113 Heb 7:25.
114 Rom 8:26-27.
115 Phil 2:4; cf. Acts 7:60; Lk 23:28,34.
116 Cf. Acts 12:5; 20:36; 21:5; 2 Cor 9:14.
117 Cf. Eph 6:18-20;
118 Cf. 2 Thess 1:11;
119 2 Tim 2:1; cf. Rom 12:14; 10:1.
120 1 Thess 5:18;
121 Cf. Rom 8:16.
122 1 Cor 8:6.
123 Acts 2:47; 3:9; 4:21; 13:48.
124 Eph 5:19;
125 Cf. Phil 2:6-11;
126 Cf. Eph 1:3-14; Rom 16:25-27; Eph 3:20-21; Jude 24-25.
127 Cf. Rev 4:8-11; 5:9-14; 7:10-12.
128 Rev 6:10.
129 Cf. Rev 18:24; 19:1-8.
130 Jas 1:17.
131 Cf. Mal 1:11.
PRAYER IN THE CHRISTIAN LIFE
THE TRADITION OF PRAYER
2652 The Holy Spirit is the living water "welling up to eternal life"3 in the heart that prays. It is he who teaches us to accept it at its source: Christ. Indeed in the Christian life there are several wellsprings where Christ awaits us to enable us to drink of the Holy Spirit.
The Word of God
Phil3:8) by frequent reading of the divine Scriptures. . . . Let them remember, however, that prayer should accompany the reading of Sacred Scripture, so that a dialogue takes place between God and man. For 'we speak to him when we pray; we listen to him when we read the divine oracles."'4
2654 The spiritual writers, paraphrasing Matthew 7:7, summarize in this way the dispositions of the heart nourished by the word of God in prayer "Seek in reading and you will find in meditating; knock in mental prayer and it will be opened to you by contemplation."5
The Liturgy of the Church
hope. Conversely, the prayer of the Church and personal prayer nourish hope in us. The psalms especially, with their concrete and varied language, teach us to fix our hope in God: "I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry."8 As
2659 We learn to pray at certain moments by hearing the Word of the Lord and sharing in his Paschal mystery, but his Spirit is offered us at all times, in the events of each day, to make prayer spring up from us. Jesus' teaching about praying to our Father is in the same vein as his teaching about providence:12 time is in the Father's hands; it is in the present that we encounter him, not yesterday nor tomorrow, but today: "O that today you would hearken to his voice! Harden not your hearts."13
2664 There is no other way of Christian prayer than Christ. Whether our prayer is communal or personal, vocal or interior, it has access to the Father only if we pray "in the name" of Jesus. The sacred humanity of Jesus is therefore the way by which the Holy Spirit teaches us to pray to God our Father.
Prayer to Jesus
2667 This simple invocation of faith developed in the tradition of prayer under many forms in East and West. The most usual formulation, transmitted by the spiritual writers of the Sinai,
"Come, Holy Spirit"
2673 In prayer the Holy Spirit unites us to the person of the only Son, in his glorified humanity, through which and in which our filial prayer unites us in the Church with the Mother of Jesus.27
29 the second entrusts the supplications and praises of the children of God to the Mother of Jesus, because she now knows the humanity which, in her, the Son of God espoused.
38 to lead us to her son, Jesus, in paradise.
39 for she has become the mother of all the living. We can pray with and to her. The prayer of the Church is sustained by the prayer of Mary and united with it in hope.40
2680 Prayer is primarily addressed to the Father; it can also be directed toward Jesus, particularly by the invocation of his holy name: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us sinners."
2681 "No one can say 'Jesus is Lord', except by the Holy Spirit" (1 Cor 12:3). The Church invites us to invoke the Holy Spirit as the interior Teacher of Christian prayer.
2682 Because of Mary's singular cooperation with the action of the Holy Spirit, the Church loves to pray in communion with the Virgin Mary, to magnify with her the great things the Lord has done for her, and to entrust supplications and praises to her.
15 Cf. DV 10.
16 Cf. Ex 3:14; 33:19-23; Mt 1:21.
17 Rom 10:13; Acts 2:21; 3:15-16; Gal 2:20.
18 Cf. Mk 10:46-52; Lk 18:13.
19 Cf. Mt 6:7.
20 Cf. Lk 8:15.
21 1 Cor 12:3.
22 St. Gregory of Nazianzus, Oratio, 31,28:PG 36,165.
23 Cf. Lk 11:13.
24 Cf. Jn 14:17; 15:26; 16:13.
25 Roman Missal, Pentecost Sequence.
26 Byzantine Liturgy, Pentecost Vespers, Troparion.
27 Cf. Acts 1:14.
28 LG 62.
29 Cf. Lk 1:46-55.
30 Cf. Lk 1:48; Zeph 3:17b.
31 Zeph 3:14,17a.
32 Rev 21:3.
33 Lk 1:41, 48.
34 Lk 1:45.
35 Cf. Gen 12:3.
36 Lk 1:43.
37 Lk 1:38.
38 Cf. Jn 19:27.
39 Cf. Jn 19:27.
40 Cf. LG 68-69.
PRAYER IN THE CHRISTIAN LIFE
THE TRADITION OF PRAYER
GUIDES FOR PRAYER
A cloud of witnesses
43 A distinct spirituality can also arise at the point of convergence of liturgical and theological currents, bearing witness to the integration of the faith into a particular human environment and its history. The different schools of Christian spirituality share in the living tradition of prayer and are essential guides for the faithful. In their rich diversity they are refractions of the one pure light of the Holy Spirit.
The Spirit is truly the dwelling of the saints and the saints are for the Spirit a place where he dwells as in his own home since they offer themselves as a dwelling place for God and are called his temple.44
Servants of prayer
2687 Many religious have consecrated their whole lives to prayer. Hermits, monks, and nuns since the time of the desert fathers have devoted their time to praising God and interceding for his people. The consecrated life cannot be sustained or spread without prayer; it is one of the living sources of contemplation and the spiritual life of the Church.
2697 Prayer is the life of the new heart. It ought to animate us at every moment. But we tend to forget him who is our life and our all. This is why the Fathers of the spiritual life in the Deuteronomic and prophetic traditions insist that prayer is a remembrance of God often awakened by the memory of the heart "We must remember God more often than we draw breath."1 But we cannot pray "at all times" if we do not pray at specific times, consciously willing it These are the special times of Christian prayer, both in intensity and duration.
1 St. Gregory of Nazianzus, Orat. theo., 27,1,4:PG 36,16.
PRAYER IN THE CHRISTIAN LIFE
THE LIFE OF PRAYER
EXPRESSIONS OF PRAYER
I. VOCAL PRAYER
2705 Meditation is above all a quest. The mind seeks to understand the why and how of the Christian life, in order to adhere and respond to what the Lord is asking. The required attentiveness is difficult to sustain. We are usually helped by books, and Christians do not want for them: the Sacred Scriptures, particularly the Gospels, holy icons, liturgical texts of the day or season, writings of the spiritual fathers, works of spirituality, the great book of creation, and that of history the page on which the "today" of God is written.
2706 To meditate on what we read helps us to make it our own by confronting it with ourselves. Here, another book is opened: the book of life. We pass from thoughts to reality. To the extent that we are humble and faithful, we discover in meditation the movements that stir the heart and we are able to discern them. It is a question of acting truthfully in order to come into the light: "Lord, what do you want me to do?"
2709 What is contemplative prayer? St. Teresa answers: "Contemplative prayer [oracion mental] in my opinion is nothing else than a close sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with him who we know loves us."6 Contemplative prayer seeks him "whom my soul loves."7 It is Jesus, and in him, the Father. We seek him, because to desire him is always the beginning of love, and we seek him in that pure faith which causes us to be born of him and to live in him. In this inner prayer we can still meditate, but our attention is fixed on the Lord himself.
2712 Contemplative prayer is the prayer of the child of God, of the forgiven sinner who agrees to welcome the love by which he is loved and who wants to respond to it by loving even more.8 But he knows that the love he is returning is poured out by the Spirit in his heart, for everything is grace from God. Contemplative prayer is the poor and humble surrender to the loving will of the Father in ever deeper union with his beloved Son.
2716 Contemplative prayer is hearing the Word of God. Far from being passive, such attentiveness is the obedience of faith, the unconditional acceptance of a servant, and the loving commitment of a child. It participates in the "Yes" of the Son become servant and the Fiat of God's lowly handmaid.
2723 Meditation is a prayerful quest engaging thought, imagination, emotion, and desire. Its goal is to make our own in faith the subject considered, by confronting it with the reality of our own life.
2724 Contemplative prayer is the simple expression of the mystery of prayer. It is a gaze of faith fixed on Jesus, an attentiveness to the Word of God, a silent love. It achieves real union with the prayer of Christ to the extent that it makes us share in his mystery.
3 Cf. Mt 11:25-26; Mk 14:36.
4 St. Teresa of Jesus, The Way of Perfection 26,9 in The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila, tr. K. Kavanaugh, OCD, and O. Rodriguez, OCD (Washington DC: Institute of Carmelite Studies, 1980),II,136.
5 Cf. Mk 4:4-7, 15-19.
6 St. Teresa of Jesus, The Book of Her Life, 8,5 in The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila, tr. K. Kavanaugh, OCD, and O. Rodriguez, OCD (Washington DC: Institute of Carmelite Studies, 1976),I,67.
7 Song 1:7; cf. 3:14.
8 Cf. Lk 7:36-50; 19:1-10.
9 Cf. Jer 31:33.
10 Eph 3:16-17.
11 Cf. St. Ignatius of Loyola, Spiritual Exercises, 104.
12 Cf. St. Isaac of
13 St. John of the Cross, Maxims and Counsels, 53 in The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross, tr. K. Kavanaugh, OCD, and O. Rodriguez, OCD (Washington DC: Institute of Carmelite Studies, 1979), 678.
14 Cf. Mt 26:40.
PRAYER IN THE CHRISTIAN LIFE
THE LIFE OF PRAYER
2729 The habitual difficulty in prayer is distraction. It can affect words and their meaning in vocal prayer; it can concern, more profoundly, him to whom we are praying, in vocal prayer (liturgical or personal), meditation, and contemplative prayer. To set about hunting down distractions would be to fall into their trap, when all that is necessary is to turn back to our heart: for a distraction reveals to us what we are attached to, and this humble awareness before the Lord should awaken our preferential love for him and lead us resolutely to offer him our heart to be purified. Therein lies the battle, the choice of which master to serve.16
2732 The most common yet most hidden temptation is our lack of faith. It expresses itself less by declared incredulity than by our actual preferences. When we begin to pray, a thousand labors or cares thought to be urgent vie for priority; once again, it is the moment of truth for the heart: what is its real love? Sometimes we turn to the Lord as a last resort, but do we really believe he is? Sometimes we enlist the Lord as an ally, but our heart remains presumptuous. In each case, our lack of faith reveals that we do not yet share in the disposition of a humble heart: "Apart from me, you can do nothing."20
2735 In the first place, we ought to be astonished by this fact: when we praise God or give him thanks for his benefits in general, we are not particularly concerned whether or not our prayer is acceptable to him. On the other hand, we demand to see the results of our petitions. What is the image of God that motivates our prayer: an instrument to be used? or the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ?
2741 Jesus also prays for us - in our place and on our behalf. All our petitions were gathered up, once for all, in his cry on the Cross and, in his Resurrection, heard by the Father. This is why he never ceases to intercede for us with the Father.32 If our prayer is resolutely united with that of Jesus, in trust and boldness as children, we obtain all that we ask in his name, even more than any particular thing: the Holy Spirit himself, who contains all gifts.
IV. PERSERVERING IN LOVE
He "prays without ceasing" who unites prayer to works and good works to prayer. Only in this way can we consider as realizable the principle of praying without ceasing.42
15 Cf. Mk 10:22.
16 Cf. Mt 6:21,24.
17 Ps 27:8.
18 Jn 12:24.
19 Cf. Lk 8:6,13.
20 Jn 15:5.
21 Mt 26:41.
22 Cf. Rom 5:3-5.
23 Rom 8:26.
24 Cf. Mt 6:8.
25 Cf. Rom 8:27.
26 Jas 4:3; cf. the whole context: Jas 4:1-10; 1:5-8; 5:16.
27 Jas 4:4.
28 Jas 4:5.
29 Evagrius Ponticus, De oratione 34:PG 79,1173.
31 Cf. Rom 10:12-13; 8:26-39.
32 Cf. Heb 5:7; 7:25; 9:24
33 1 Thess 5:17; Eph 5:20.
34 Eph 6:18.
35 Evagrius Ponticus, Pract. 49:PG 40,1245C.
36 Cf. Mt 28:20; Lk 8:24.
38 Cf. Gal 5:16-25.
41 Jn 15:16-17.
42 Origen, De orat. 12:PG 11,452c.