Tuesday, August 25, 2009

About the importance of prayer

I wanted to just post a simple prayer, but while flipping through my books I found that I wanted to first share with you three paragraphs written by the late Pope John Paul II. This is from his book "Crossing the Threshold of Hope" where he responded to questions including the one "How Does the Pope Pray?" Here are three paragraphs from his longer answer.

The Pope's prayer, however, has an added dimension. In his concern for all the churches every day the Pontiff must open his prayer, his thought, his heart to the entire world. Thus a kind of geography of the Pope's prayer is sketched out. It is a geography of communities, churches, societies, and also of the problems that trouble the world today. In this sense the Pope is called to a universal prayer in which the sollicitudo omnium Ecclesiarum (concern for all the churches; 2 Cor 11:28) permits him to set forth before God all the joys and hopes as well as the griefs and anxieties that the Church shares with humanity today.

Prayer in our time, prayer in the twentieth century, should also be discussed. The year 2000 marks a kind of challenge. We must look at the immensity of good that has sprung from the mystery of the Incarnation of the Word [my note to my blog readers, for non-Christians the Incarnation of the Word means the birth of Jesus as the will and the word of God made into human flesh form] and, at the same time, not lose sight of the mystery of sin, which is continually expanding. Saint Paul writes that "where sin increased" ("ubi abundavit peccatum") "grace overflowed all the more" ("superabundavit gratia"; cf. Rom 5:20).

This profound truth presents a perennial challenge for prayer. It shows how necessary prayer is for the world and for the Church, because in the end it constitutes the easiest way of making God and His redeeming love present in the world. God entrusted to men their own salvation; He entrusted to them the Church, and, in the Church, the redeeming work of Christ. God entrusted this to all, both to individuals and to humanity as a whole. He entrusted all to one and one to all. The prayer of the Church, and especially the prayer of the Pope, must constantly reflect this awareness.

Here is another paragraph on this topic, so relevant to these times.

The Church prays for the dead and this prayer says much about the reality of the Church itself. It says that the Church continues to live in the hope of eternal life. Prayer for the dead is almost a battle with the reality of death and destruction that weighs down upon the earthly existence of man. This is and remains a particular revelation of the Resurrection. In this prayer Christ Himself bears witness to the life and immortality, to which God calls every human being.

One reason that I included this fourth paragraph is that I wanted you to understand that praying for the dead is not depressing and pointless, but the ultimate expression of faith and hope by the individuals and body of the Church in the immortal life to which God calls all. Implicit in this, though John Paul II does not address this here, is that even if someone who you know has deceased in a state where you might be quite certain that they had not accepted God, had not shunned lives of sin, and had might likely, therefore, "not been saved," it is an expression of your faith and hope that, if you so wish, pray nonetheless for your deceased loved one. The point is that no prayer is "wasted." Sometimes true faith is demonstrated only when you trust God in what seems to be impossible situations.

Mark 10:26-27
They were exceedingly astonished and said among themselves, "Then who can be saved?" Jesus looked at them and said, "For human beings it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God."