Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith Fournier

10/8/2014 (4 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The Our Father reveals the path for every one of us to living in a continual communion with God

What Jesus is teaching is a Way of Life. We can have the same relationship Jesus has with the Father, the intimate communion the disciples witnessed when they came upon Him prayer. The same relationship they witnesses as they walked with Him daily. We also walk with Him daily.From this, and the other accounts of the same exchange, we have been given the beautiful form prayer we were taught as children. It is the prayer we pray at every Holy Mass, the Our Father. However, Jesus is teaching us all much more than one form of prayer, he is revealing to his friends and followers the relationship which is itself the very heart of prayer. Lord, Teach us to Pray.

When the Spirit dwells in a person, from the moment in which that person has become prayer, he never leaves him. For the Spirit himself never ceases to pray in him. Whether the person is asleep or awake, prayer never from then on departs from his soul. Whether he is eating or drinking or sleeping or whatever else he is doing, even in deepest sleep, the fragrance of prayer rises without effort in hid heart. Prayer never again deserts him. (Isaac of Ninevah)

When the Spirit dwells in a person, from the moment in which that person has become prayer, he never leaves him. For the Spirit himself never ceases to pray in him. Whether the person is asleep or awake, prayer never from then on departs from his soul. Whether he is eating or drinking or sleeping or whatever else he is doing, even in deepest sleep, the fragrance of prayer rises without effort in hid heart. Prayer never again deserts him. (Isaac of Ninevah)

Highlights

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

10/8/2014 (4 months ago)

Published in Living Faith

Keywords: Prayer, meditation, contemplative prayer, contemplation, centering prayer, devotion, the Our Father, discipleship, Born Again, salvation, novenas, spirituality, Holy Mass, homilies, Year of Faith, Deacon Keith Fournier


CHESAPEAKE,VA (Catholic Online) - The Gospel proclaimed at the Liturgy of the Catholic Church today is excerpted from St. Luke's account of the beautiful exchange between the disciples and Jesus where they ask Him to teach them how to pray:

"Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.

"He said to them, When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name, your Kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread and forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us, and do not subject us to the final test." (Luke 11:1-4)

From this, and the other accounts of the same exchange, we have been given the beautiful form prayer we were taught as children. It is the prayer we pray at every Holy Mass, the Our Father.

However, Jesus is teaching us all much more than one form prayer. He is revealing to his friends and followers the relationship which is the very heart of prayer.

Jesus sets forth the relational framework within which life itself can become an ongoing dialogue of prayer. The Our Father reveals the path for every one of us to living in a continual communion with God.

Following this account, Jesus tells the disciples a parable concerning one type of prayer, persevering prayer for needs. (Luke 11:1-13) He instructs them throughout His public ministry concerning various types of prayer.

However, He Himself is Prayer.

In His continual communion with the Father, He opens the Way to the Father. His entire time with the disciples is an instruction in Prayer. He shows them the pattern of living in such a continual communion with the Father. He then invites them - and he invites us - into that communion of love which He has with the Father, in the Holy Spirit. This is prayer.

Through His saving Incarnation, His Life, Death, Resurrection and Ascension, Jesus also removes the impediment to our being able to enter into that communion. He makes it possible for us to begin living in that communion in the here and now. That occurs through grace.

We are invited to cultivate lifestyles of prayer which lead us into an ever deepening communion with the Lord. This kind of communion is available to all of us, no matter what our state in life or specific vocation.

Through prayer, we learn the path to the peace we long for, even in the midst of the turbulence which is so common in daily life; a peace which comes from such a communion with the Father - Our Father - in the Son and through the Holy Spirit.

After the Resurrection, the Apostle Paul, who had not walked with the Lord during His earthly ministry but was, even so, a witness to the Resurrection, writes these compelling words to the early Christians:

"Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit. (1 Thess. 5:16-19)

He wrote those words to the early Christians in Greece who did not live lives of ease, in any sense of the word. They had families, occupations, and struggles, beyond what many of us could imagine. They also suffered greatly for their faith.

Yet, he instructed them to Pray without ceasing. Did he really mean it? I believe that he did. He lived it and wanted the same gift for all those who bore the name Christian entrusted to his pastoral care.

The older I get, the simpler life gets. That does not mean it is easy. I speak of spiritual simplicity, the kind of attitude which gets right to the root of what really matters. I absolutely believe that Paul meant exactly what he said to the Thessalonians - and that his words are important to those of us who bear the name Christian today.

We can pray without ceasing as well.

Prayer is an ongoing dialogue which opens up an intimate communion with God, Father Son and Holy Spirit. Prayer can become continual, as we learn to live in the Lord.

God fashioned men and women as the crown of His creation, creating us in His Image, for this kind of loving, relational conversation of life with Him. At the heart of understanding what it means to be created in His Image is to understand the immense gift of human freedom and what has happened to our capacity to choose. Our freedom is patterned after God's freedom. Love is never coerced, it is freely given.

However, our relationship with God was broken, separated and wounded through the first sin, the sin of origins or what is called theologically original sin. That sin, like all sin since, is, at its root, a misuse of freedom infected by pride and self sufficiency.

Our ability to exercise our freedom rightly, to live in His Image by directing our capacity for free choice always toward the good and true , was impeded through the fall. Our freedom was fractured.

The Cross of Jesus Christ is the only splint capable of healing that fracture.

The Good News is that through Jesus Christ, the Way has now been opened for us to have an even fuller communion with God than our first parents, one that is restored through His Incarnation, Saving life, Death and Resurrection.

In Jesus Christ we are being re-created, re-fashioned and redeemed. He comes to live in all who make a place for Him within the center of their lives, the place where they make their fundamental choices, what the Bible calls the heart. This making a place is the essence of Christian prayer. It is not about doing, but about being, in communion with the Trinity.(See, e.g. John 14:23)

The Lord invites us to freely choose to respond to His continual invitations to love now every day, every moment. We find our fulfillment as human persons by entering into that kind of relationship. This is the meaning and purpose of life itself - to commune with God.

As we grow in faith through our participation in the life of grace, lived out in the Church, our capacity to respond to His loving invitation grows, through prayer.

Prayer is the pathway to that peace the Lord promised, which the world cannot give - and the world cannot take away. " Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." (John 14:27)

Prayer is about falling in love with the living God.

Isaac of Ninevah was an early eighth century monk, Bishop and theologian. For centuries he was mostly revered in the Eastern Christian Church for his writings on prayer. In the last century the beauty of his insights on prayer are being embraced once again by both lungs, East and West, of the Church. He wrote these words in one of his many treatises on Prayer:

"When the Spirit dwells in a person, from the moment in which that person has become prayer, he never leaves him. For the Spirit himself never ceases to pray in him. Whether the person is asleep or awake, prayer never from then on departs from his soul. Whether he is eating or drinking or sleeping or whatever else he is doing, even in deepest sleep, the fragrance of prayer rises without effort in hid heart. Prayer never again deserts him.

"At every moment of his life, even when it appears to stop, it is secretly at work in him continuously, one of the Fathers, the bearers of Christ, says that prayer is the silence of the pure. For their thoughts are divine motions. The movements of the heart and the intellect that have been purified are the voices full of sweetness with which such people never cease to sing in secret to the hidden God."

Jesus opens up -to you and me- a full communion with God the Father through living in Him. We are sons and daughters in the Son.

Jesus leads us out of the emptiness and despair that is the rotted fruit of narcissism, nihilism and materialism. When we enter into the dialogue of prayer, we can begin to experience a progressive, dynamic and intimate relationship with the Father, in Jesus, by grace.

The Holy Spirit begins to transform us from within as we yield to the Father's will and cooperate with grace, the dynamic life of God which is mediated to us through the Son.

As Isaac explained in this beautiful writing, we really can become prayer as we empty ourselves in order to be filled with the very life of God. Through prayer, daily life can then take on new meaning. It becomes a classroom of communion. In that classroom we learn the truth about who we are - and who we are becoming - in Jesus. Through prayer we receive new glasses through which we see the true landscape of life. Through prayer darkness is dispelled and the path of progress is illuminated.

Through prayer we can begin to understand why this communion seems so elusive at times; as we struggle with our own disordered appetites, and live in a manner at odds with the beauty and order of the creation within which we dwell only to find 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 truth and equips us to change.

Through prayer we are increasingly 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 now 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 become, in the words of the Apostle Peter partakers of the divine nature. (2 Peter 1:4) 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, but it begins now, in the grace of this present moment.

The beloved disciple John became prayer. He writes in the letter he penned in his later years:

"See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him. Beloved, we are God's children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope based on him makes himself pure, as he is pure. Everyone who commits sin commits lawlessness, for sin is lawlessness." (1 John 3:1-4)

As we become prayer our daily life is revealed as a field of choice and we are capacitated by grace to choose the more excellent way of love of which the great Apostle Paul wrote. (1 Cor. 13) Pondering the implications of the exercise of our human freedom becomes a regular part of our life, as we learn to examine our conscience, repent of our sin and become joyful penitents following after Jesus.

Prayer provides the environment for such ongoing recollection as it exposes the darkness and helps us surrender it to the light of Love, the Living God who is dwelling within us.

Becoming prayer is possible for all Christians, no matter their state in life or vocation, because God holds nothing back from those whom He loves. This relationship of communion is initiated by Him. Our part is to respond. That response should flow from a heart that beats in surrendered love, in the process of being freed from the entanglements that weigh us down.

The God who is Love hungers for the communion of sons and daughters - and we hunger for communion with Him - because He made us this way. Nothing else will satisfy. The early Church Father Origen once wrote: Every spiritual being is, by nature, a temple of God, created to receive into itself the glory of God.

We were made in the image of God and are now being recreated into His likeness in Jesus Christ through grace. As we become prayer, that likeness begins to emerge. We give ourselves over to Jesus, the One who gave Himself to us. We learn to cry out with Jesus Christ, Abba Father.

No longer alienated from God, we begin to participate in the inner life of God who now dwells within us. We also dwell in Him through His Spirit. This dwelling in God is prayer. It is not about doing or getting but about being, becoming, receiving, giving, and loving. We will live the way we love and we will love the way we pray.

The late Fr. Henri Nouwen, understood the intimacy of prayer and the call to live in God. He wrote these words in his work entitled Lifesigns: 

"Jesus, in whom the fullness of God dwells, has become our home by making his home in us he allows us to make our home in him.  By entering into the intimacy of our innermost self he offers us the opportunity to enter into his own intimacy with God."

By choosing us as his preferred dwelling place, he invites us to choose him as our preferred dwelling place.  This is the mystery of the incarnation.  Here we come to see what discipline in the spiritual life means.  It means a gradual process of coming home to where we belong and listening there to the voice which desires our attention.  Home is the place where that first love dwells and speaks gently to us.  Prayer is the most concrete way to make our home in God.

We are His contemporary disciples. We need to ask Him the same question, Lord, Teach us to Pray, as we approach the altar to receive Him, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, into our very selves. Then, filled with His Divine Life within us, we too can learn how to become prayer by learning to make our home in God.

What Jesus is teaching us in this Gospel account from Luke is a really about a New Way of Life. We can have the same relationship Jesus has with the Father, the intimate communion the disciples witnessed when they came upon Him prayer. The same relationship they witnesses as they walked with Him daily.

We also walk with Him daily.  He has been raised from the dead and He is with us!

Lord, Teach us to Pray.
----

Deacon Keith Fournier is Founder and Chairman of Common Good Foundation and Common Good Alliance. A married Roman Catholic Deacon of the Diocese of Richmond, Virginia, he and his wife Laurine have five grown children and six grandchildren, He serves as the Director of Adult Faith Formation at St. Stephen, Martyr Parish in Chesapeake, VA. He is also a human rights lawyer and public policy advocate.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2015
Universal:
Scientists: That those involved in scientific research may serve the well-being of the whole human person.
Evangelization: Contribution of women: That the unique contribution of women to the life of the Church may be recognized always.



Comments


More Living Faith

Former atheist shares with the world his unbelievable journey finding Jesus Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Journalist and Pastor Lee Strobel led a "narcissistic and profane" life before his conversion to Christianity in 1981. The former atheist spent two years interviewing experts and exploring theology, when he became overwhelmed by the evidence for Jesus Christ's ... continue reading


Catholic-raised beef. Yep, that's a thing! Watch

Image of A nun's life is filled with unexpected joys and happiness. For the Benedictine nuns of the Abbey of St. Walburnga, ranching and prayer fit perfectly.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

When many Americans think of monks and nuns, they imagine brown or black-clad cloistered people who do nothing but pray all day in perfect isolation from the rest of the world. It's a common misconception and perhaps it dissuades many from a life that is actually ... continue reading


Beating swords into plowshares

Image of

By Tony Magliano

"In the days to come, the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established as the highest mountain and raised above the hills," writes the prophet Isaiah. "Many peoples shall come and say: Come, let us go up to the Lord's mountain . that he may instruct us in his ... continue reading


Insight from Pope Francis: 'Minimum skills minuimum wages' --What's wrong with that? ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING Watch

Image of Ask yourself, am I judging or am I helping?

By Marshall Connolly (Catholic Online)

"Don't like it? Go home then," Pope Francis remarked on the throwaway culture of our world and how it impacts the lives of millions at the margins. His words are a wake-up call for all of us. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - How many times have we considered the low ... continue reading


ISIS is not the first to persecute Christians, a look at the Roman persecutions of the early Church (PART ONE) Watch

Image of St. James the Greater, one of the first Christian martyrs.

By Robert Mullen (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It is a sad and disheartening fact that many Christians suffer from constant-and often brutal-persecution today, most visibly in places like the Middle East where the Islamic State rules, or in Asian nations like India or China where Christianity is a ... continue reading


God is Green! Come celebrate all of God's creations during March Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

"In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters," Genesis 1:1-2. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - God created the earth we ... continue reading


What Does the Lord Jesus Mean When He Calls us to Be Perfect? Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith Fournier

The character of Jesus Christ is being formed in each one of us as we say yes - and choose to cooperate with the Lord who is making us new, every day.  Perhaps our problem is rooted in understanding - and responding - to this call to be perfect. Perhaps it is ... continue reading


Making a Lenten Retreat with Pope Francis: Learning from Elijah Watch

Image of There is a mystery here, deep and profound, yet as simple as the broom tree encounter of our teacher Elijah. God is searching for men and women who will surrender their lives in love to Him in this hour. Often, it takes the depletion of all of our own efforts and resources before we are willing to give up - and give in - to Him. When we do, the life of true faith begins. It is there we learn to hear the God of surrendered love in the whisper of the wind. It is there that we learn the Faith of Elijah, under the broom tree.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

In many respects, our life on this earth is a classroom of love and a continual invitation to holiness. As we age, we are given the opportunities we need to receive the graces we need to empty ourselves of all that clutters up our life - so that we can be free to ... continue reading


Vatican deeply apologizes for Pope Francis' Argentina 'Mexicanization' comment Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis did not mean any offense - but in a private email about his native land Argentina's drug trafficking issues, the pope expressed concern over Argentina's "Mexicanization." The Vatican is now trying to clarify and apologize to any parties that may ... continue reading


UPDATE: Two years after resignation Pope Emeritus Benedict said to be doing well Watch

Image of Pope Emeritus Benedict is said to be in better health since his resignation.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

With Pope Francis in the spotlight, many wonder what is happening with Pope Emeritus Benedict, who is keeping true to his pledge to remain out of the public eye. For the curious, we have good news, Pope Emeritus Benedict is doing well, if not even better than before. ... continue reading


All Living Faith News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

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

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Jeremiah 18:18-20
18 'Come on,' they said, 'let us concoct a plot ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 31:5-6, 14, 15-16
5 to your hands I commit my spirit, by you have I ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 20:17-28
17 Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, and on the road ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for March 4th, 2015 Image

St. Casimir
March 4: Casimir grew up in a world where his life was not his own. As a ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter