On Prayer and Form

67525f0e3bfd3d4cebea5e87ee318d32--no-se-catholicvia pinterest Debbie Cannon

So how does prayer nourish our souls? The ancients of spoke of the soul as the heart and the ancient Church was no different in this respect. Fr. Casey in his book Toward God speaks of prayer being a compunction of our heart derived from the original meaning from its Latin origin meaning, “the word compunction points to an experience being pricked or punctured…Compunction in this sense is an arousal, an awakening.” (p.43)

In regards to being the products of the philosophy of Individualism in our modern world, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church explains in paragraph 2704, the vocal form of prayer, “is the form of prayer most readily accessible to groups.” Our cooperation with God’s grace bestows on us an opening into our hardened hearts that allows us to turn away from our selfish individualistic natures toward the communio of our Christian life.

After the fall of man, our hearts have been turned away from God by original sin. Furthermore, n our modern society, we’ve been constantly bombarded with hedonism and a culture that turns out wills inward which have caused our hearts to harden like the Pharaoh of Exodus when Moses said to him that God had decreed to let his people go.

Personal prayer is one that is called for in the Gospels, as in the Gospel of Matthew 6:6 RSV,But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” It is a method of prayer best suited for private devotion to foster a relationship with God through vocal, meditative, and contemplative prayer. It is one that is generally more silent and reserve to conduce an opportunity for God to speak to us through our meditation of scriptures or the life of Christ. It’s an interaction where as in John Chapter 4, we can drink from the true living water and be refreshed.

The difference in Communal Prayer is one that it highlights one of attributes from God that we are made to be social and for each other. As the persons in the Holy Trinity show us the perfect love between each person of the one true God, we’re to learn how to properly love each other. We can do this by coming together, singing, and as we attend the sacrifice of the mass to participate in the communal meal aspect of the mass, where rich, poor, healthy, sick etc. all eat from the same table. In this manner, the communal prayer gives us the grace to see the dignity of all our brothers and sisters.

One great types of communal prayer is Liturgical Prayer which is the great work of the Church. It is the participation in Christ’s own prayer addressed to the Father in Holy Spirit. (CCC 1073) As the Catechism in paragraph 1074 says, “The Liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; it also the font from which all her power flows.” Of course, the passage is a quotation from the Vatican II document on the sacred liturgy–Sacrosanctum concilium. As the Catechism explains, the work of the Church is utilized by initiating the faith into the mystery of Christ by proceeding from the visible to the invisible.

In fact, there is no greater work or prayer than the Liturgy of the Mass, as the Catechism says, “The Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life.” “The other sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it. For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself, our Pasch.” (CCC, 1324.) In the liturgy of the mass, we are witnesses of the great paschal mystery of Christ, the paschal victim, who takes away the sins of the world.

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