Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith Fournier

2/22/2013 (3 years ago)

Catholic Online (

We give glory to you, Lord, who raised up your cross to span the jaws of death, like a bridge by which souls might pass from the region of the dead to the land of the living

Through prayer, we are drawn by Love into a deepening relationship with Jesus  whose loving embrace on the hill of Golgotha bridged heaven with earth; His relationship with His Father is opened  to us; the same Spirit that raised Him from the dead begins to give us new life as we are converted, transfigured and made new. Through prayer, heavenly wisdom is planted in the field of our hearts and we experience a deepening communion with the Trinitarian God. We begin to experience the mystery and meaning in those words of the Apostle and actually become partakers of the divine nature. (2 Peter 1:4)


By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (

2/22/2013 (3 years ago)

Published in Year of Faith

Keywords: Prayer, contemplative prayer, contemplation, meditation, spirituality, devotion, holiness, Year of faith, Cross, holiness, way of life, Deacon Keith Fournier

CHESAPEAKE, VA. (Catholic Online) - Today's Gospel passage at Mass is from the account of one of the teachings the Lord gave to his disciples concerning prayer in the Gospel of St. Matthew:

"Jesus said to his disciples: "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened."

"Which one of you would hand his son a stone when he asked for a loaf of bread - or a snake when he asked for a fish? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him. Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. This is the law and the prophets." (Matt 7:7-12)

St. Luke's account of this teaching follows after the disciples find Jesus in prayerful communion with His Father. In His Sacred humanity, Jesus shows them the way of life into which they will be initiated through His gift on Golgotha's Hill and His defeat of death through the empty tomb. Luke adds an additional parable to communicate to us that prayer often involves persistence. 

"And he said to them, "Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him,`Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him'; and he will answer from within, `Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything'?" I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him whatever he needs. "

"And I tell you, Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For every one who asks, receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?  If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" (Luke 11:5-13)

Prayer leads us into a life of communion. It is our fuel, the wind in our sails. We who are baptized into Jesus Christ are to live our lives in Him, by living them in His Body, the Church, of which we are members. (1 Cor. 12:27) This call to live in Him engages our freedom and invites our continual response to His grace.  

The intimate communion the disciples witnessed when they came upon Jesus in prayer can become our experience. We are adopted sons and daughters of "His Father and Our Father". (John 20:17). The ongoing instruction which they received as they walked with Him daily can become ours when we walk with Him daily.

The Jesus who instructed them in these accounts is alive with us. He has been raised from the dead. We need the eyes of faith to see Him and the courage to accompany Him on the way. Through Jesus we are made capable of living an entirely new way of life. In the words of the Apostle Peter, we become partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1).

It is by learning to live in the communion of the Church that we come to receive this divine life. It is mediated through the Sacraments. It forms us through the Word of God and the wisdom of the teaching office of the Church. It recreates us into the Image and likeness of God fully revealed in Jesus Christ.

God created us in His Image for a loving, relational conversation of life with Him. Understanding what it meant to be created in His Image, and then to fall, requires us to reflect upon human freedom. The Catechism reminds us that "In man, true freedom is an outstanding manifestation of the divine image. (CCC #1712). Our capacity to choose what is true and good was fractured as a result of sin.

The Catechism explains the consequence, "Man, having been wounded in his nature by original sin, is subject to error and inclined to evil in exercising his freedom" and the remedy, " He who believes in Christ has new life in the Holy Spirit. The moral life, increased and brought to maturity in grace, is to reach its fulfillment in the glory of heaven." (CCC #1714, 1715)

Our relationship with God was broken by original sin. It was a misuse of freedom. Freedom was corroded and corrupted by pride and self sufficiency. Our ability to exercise our freedom by directing our capacity for free choice always toward the good was impeded because of the fall. 

"Man, enticed by the Evil One, abused his freedom at the very beginning of history. He succumbed to temptation and did what was evil. He still desires the good, but his nature bears the wound of original sin. He is now inclined to evil and subject to error: Man is divided in himself. As a result, the whole life of men, both individual and social, shows itself to be a struggle, and a dramatic one, between good and evil, between light and darkness. By his Passion, Christ delivered us from Satan and from sin. He merited for us the new life in the Holy Spirit. His grace restores what sin had damaged in us." (CCC #1707, 1708)

The way has been opened for us to live in an even fuller communion with God than our first parents had. In Jesus we are being re-created, re-fashioned and redeemed. He stands at the door of our hearts and knocks. "Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me." (Revelations 3:20) He lives in us and we live in Him. Prayer is the house where we learn what that means. 

Through prayer, daily life can become a classroom of communion. In that classroom we can learn the truth about who we are - and who we are becoming - in Jesus. Through prayer, we receive new glasses through which we will see the true landscape of life. Through prayer, darkness can be dispelled and the path of progress illuminated.

Yes, we still struggle with our own disordered appetites. We often live in a manner at odds with the beauty and order of the creation within which we dwell. However, through prayer we find a way through. We have a new beginning whenever we confess our sin and return to our first love. Prayer opens us up to Revelation, expands our capacity to comprehend its mysteries and equips us to be changed, converted, and made new.

Through prayer, we are drawn by Love into a deepening relationship with Jesus  whose loving embrace on the hill of Golgotha bridged heaven with earth; His relationship with His Father is opened  to us; the same Spirit that raised Him from the dead begins to give us new life as we are converted, transfigured and made new.

Through prayer, heavenly wisdom is planted in the field of our hearts and we experience a deepening communion with the Trinitarian God. We begin to experience the mystery and meaning in those words of the Apostle and actually become "partakers of the divine nature." (2 Peter 1:4) Though that participation will only be fully complete when we are with Him in the fullness of His embrace - in Resurrected Bodies in a New Heaven and a New Earth - it begins now, in the grace of this present moment. 

God holds nothing back from those whom He loves. He gives us the Holy Spirit, His life and energy. Living faith mediates the mystery of God's loving plan. Prayer opens our spiritual eyes to behold the Divine Design in our own lives. We see that we walk with Him and He that guide our path along a plan and a pattern.

For the Christian, the center from which the Divine design proceeds- and through which we discern the beauty of God's perfect plan - is the Cross of Jesus Christ. It is the central patch of cloth from which the pattern of progress proceeds. It is also where the pattern returns. However, seeing this pattern requires ongoing conversion. We need the renewed vision that comes through such living faith to stay on the path.

Prayer makes that possible. In prayer, we find the strength to pull ourselves up, after the inevitable falls which accompany daily living, by grasping the wood of the Cross, the door to the new world to come. Our fractured freedom is healed by the splint of that Cross and we learn to love its wood.  

The Early Christians reflected upon the Cross with the kinds of insights which come from an intimate communion with God. They saw it as a second tree at which the new creation began again in Jesus Christ. On that Cross, the Living Word, through whom the Universe was created, re-created it anew. From His wounded side, His spouse, the Church, was born. The blood and water which flowed is the fountain of grace offered through the Sacraments.

How did they discern such deep insights? They were men and women just like us. However, they prayed. As result, they probed the depths of the mysteries of the faith. So can we. They wrote beauty. Let us to reflect upon some of it as we conclude. 

Theodore the Studite, an eighth century Abbot of the First Christian Millennium, wrote: "How precious the gift of the cross, how splendid to contemplate! In the cross there is no mingling of good and evil, as in the tree of paradise: it is wholly beautiful to behold and good to taste. The fruit of this tree is not death but life, not darkness but light. This tree does not cast us out of paradise, but opens the way for our return."

"This was the tree on which Christ, like a King on a chariot, destroyed the devil, the Lord of death, and freed the human race from his tyranny. This was the tree upon which the Lord, like a brave warrior wounded in hands, feet and side, healed the wounds of sin that the evil serpent had inflicted on our nature. A tree once caused our death but now a tree brings life."

"Once deceived by a tree, we have now repelled the cunning serpent by a tree. What an astonishing transformation! That death should become life, that decay should become immortality- that shame should become glory!"

A fourth century Deacon named Ephrem wrote hymns which gained him a title still mentioned in the Syriac Liturgy to this day -- "the Harp of the Holy Spirit". In a sermon he proclaimed: "He who was also the carpenters glorious son set up his cross above deaths' all consuming jaws, and led the human race into the dwelling place of life. Since a tree had brought about the downfall of mankind, it was upon a tree that mankind crossed over to the realm of life."

"Bitter was the branch that had once been grafted upon that ancient tree, but sweet the young shoot that has now been grafted in, the shoot in which we are meant to recognize the Lord whom no creature can resist. We give glory to you, Lord, who raised up your cross to span the jaws of death, like a bridge by which souls might pass from the region of the dead to the land of the living."

"We give glory to you who put on the body of a single mortal man and made it the source of life for every other mortal man. You are incontestably alive. Your murderers sowed your living body in the earth as farmers sow grain, but it sprang up and yielded an abundant harvest of men raised from the dead. Come then, my brothers and sisters, let us offer our Lord the great and all embracing sacrifice of our love and our lives"

The beauty of their words, the profundity of their insights, proceeded from the depth of their prayer. The same Lord to which they clung - and in whom they found such wisdom - still walks with us and we walk with Him. He invites us to ask, knock, seek and persist in prayer. Prayer is a path to freedom.


'Help give every student and teacher Free resources for a world-class moral Catholic education'

Copyright 2017 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for DECEMBER 2016
End to Child-Soldiers: That the scandal of child-soldiers may be eliminated the world over.
Evangelization: Europe: That the peoples of Europe may rediscover the beauty, goodness, and truth of the Gospel which gives joy and hope to life.


More Year of Faith

The Happy Priest on the Baptism of the Lord and our own Baptism Watch

Image of

By Fr. James Farfaglia

The consideration of Jesus' baptism, gives us an opportunity to remember our own baptism.  If you do not know the date of your own baptism, it is a good idea to go through your personal files and find out when it occurred.  CORPUS CHRISTI, TX (Catholic ... continue reading

Regret of Judas or Repentance of Peter?

Image of

By Fr Samuel Medley, SOLT

I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; My face I did not shield from buffets and spitting. HYTHE, KENT, UK (Catholic Online) - I didn't steal any cookies mommy! says a little boy whose mother asked him if he was hungry, wiping the ... continue reading

Pentecost: St Cyril of Jerusalem on The Living Water of the Holy Spirit Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online

The Spirit makes one man a teacher of divine truth, inspires another to prophesy, gives another the power of casting out devils, enables another to interpret holy Scripture. The Spirit strengthens one man's self-control, shows another how to help the poor, teaches ... continue reading

The Wedding Invitation of Jesus: We are Called to Live the Nuptial Mystery Watch

Image of There will be no giving or taking in marriage in the kingdom to come because the very purpose and meaning of marriage itself will be fulfilled. (See, e.g. Mk. 12:18-27) We will be living in the fullness of the Communion of Love with the Trinity. The symbol will give way to the eternal reality, the Sacrament will be fulfilled in the fullness of communion. All of human love will be completed in the Love which lasts forever.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

It is not accidental that the Bible, from beginning to the end, uses marriage as a metaphor and a symbol to reveal the plan of God for the whole human race.  Marriage was God's plan from the beginning as we see in the first book of Genesis. Throughout the Old ... continue reading

The Sower. The Seed. The Field. Understanding the Christian Mission Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith Fournier

"A sower went out to sow. And, as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep, and when the sun rose it was scorched, and it withered for ... continue reading

Reflection on the Catholic Catechism: Understanding the Bible Watch

Image of

By Michael Terheyden

How we interpret the Bible is of immense importance! It directly affects what we believe about Christ, the Church, and our faith, but it is also related to many of the grave problems in our society and the world. Yet, despite the gravity of this situation, we have good ... continue reading

Christ the King, the Year of Faith and the Catholic Counterculture Watch

Image of On this Solemnity of the Feast of Christ the King, the Year of Faith inaugurated by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI comes to a ceremonial end. However, in reality, it cannot and will not end, because Jesus Christ is King! The Year of Faith was only the beginning for those who choose to live the Life of Faith.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

We celebrate the Feast of Christ the King. It is one of many opportunities the Catholic Church year offers to each one of us to consider the creature called time, receive it as a gift, and begin to really live our lives differently.  This is one of ... continue reading

The Bones of Peter, the Successor of Peter: Close of the Year of Faith Watch

Image of The bones of St. Peter the Apostle

By Deacon Keith Fournier

On the Solemnity of the Feast of Christ the King, the Sunday which marks both the end of the Church Year and the end of the Year of Faith, inaugurated by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Pope Francis greeted thousands of the faithful and presided over Holy Mass and the ... continue reading

Fr Randy Sly on Becoming a House of Prayer Watch

Image of Jesus drives the money changers from the temple. 

With hearts clear and focused on our Lord, we can follow the advice of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Everything starts with prayer. Love to pray--feel the need to pray often during the day and take the trouble to pray. If you want to pray better, you must pray more. The more you pray, the easier it becomes. Perfect prayer does not consist of many words but in the fervor of the desire which raises the heart to Jesus. (Fr. Randy Sly)

By Father Randy Sly

Becoming a House of Prayer is the best discipline we can take on. St. Ephraem of Syria states that Virtues are formed by prayer. Prayer preserves temperance. Prayer suppresses anger. Prayer prevents emotions of pride and envy. Prayer draws into the soul the Holy ... continue reading

Jesus Weeps and Offers the Path to Peace Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith Fournier

If this day you only knew what makes for peace- but now it is hidden from your eyes. For the days are coming upon you when your enemies will raise a palisade against you; they will encircle you and hem you in on all sides. They will smash you to the ground and your ... continue reading

All Year of Faith News


Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Hebrews 9:15, 24-28
15 This makes him the mediator of a new covenant, so that, now that a ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 98:1, 2-3, 3-4, 5-6
1 [Psalm] Sing a new song to Yahweh, for he has performed wonders, his ... Read More

Gospel, Mark 3:22-30
22 The scribes who had come down from Jerusalem were saying, 'Beelzebul ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for January 23rd, 2017 Image

St. Ildephonsus
January 23: St. Ildephonsus is highly regarded in Spain and ... Read More