21 May Fifth Sunday After Easter
Today is the Fifth Sunday after Easter
by Fr. Francis Xavier Weninger, 1876
“Ask, and you shall receive.”–John 16.
Today, and during the following days of this season, the Church exhorts her children to pray earnestly, to assault heaven with their petitions, if they would desire to follow Jesus, and end their earthly pilgrimage by ascending, like Him, into the glory of God.
Prayers, said in spirit and in truth, are the means which God has given us to obtain divine grace; and the necessity of these means was clearly pointed out by our Lord, when He uttered that memorable admonition: “We must pray always.” Through the hypostatical union of the human nature of Christ with the person of the Son of God, the entire being of Christ was an intimate union with God, and, consequently, a prayer. Our continual union with God in prayer should be a reflex of this union of Christ. How impressive, therefore, is the admonition: Pray!
But so many pray, and their prayers seem not to have the least effect in rendering their lives holy. Why? I answer: Because they do not pray in the right manner. And why not? Because they do not pray in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, because they do not pray in the spirit of these three holy names, with which we are accustomed to begin every prayer, and especially that prayer which Christ Himself taught us.
Let us consider today the meaning of the words: To pray in the name of the Father. Mary, Mother of God, teach us, thy children, to pray as thou wast wont to pray in the name of the Father! I speak in the most holy name of Jesus, to the greater glory of God.
I said before, that if we wish our prayers to be effectual, true, and pleasing to God, we must pray, above all, in the name of the Father. The first word in the prayer which Christ taught us verifies this; for we commence the Lord's prayer, according to Christ's instructions, with the words: “Father, Our Father! ” This word “Father,” when spoken with attention, and meditated upon, raises our hearts at once from this earth heavenward, swifter than the eagle's flight; and thus puts our minds in a proper disposition to pray, which is nothing else than the raising of our thoughts to God.
The word “Father” addressed to God also suddenly lifts the veil, and allows us to look into the depth of His divine nature; and places before our eyes clearly and comprehensively the relations that exist between the infinitely perfect qualities of the God-head and us children of men; tor we add: Our our Father!
It reminds us, too, of the relation which the Son of God, as God, bears to the eternal Father; and calls up before us the remembrance of how God the Son became incarnate, that He might save and sanctify us, and, after death, unite us with our Father in heaven. These are the thoughts that should warm our hearts when we approach our dear Lord in prayer, and fill them to overflowing with praise and thanksgiving for His goodness towards us.
The entire outer world, which we see, does not possess the happiness of calling God Father. Not the firmament, with all its magnificence, with all its sparkling worlds; no, not to these, but to us alone is it Driven to call God Father, for God is only their Creator, not their Father. Through the fall of Adam we lost the happiness of calling God Father; but Christ, when He became Man, regained for us this our lost nobility, and, with it, the great prerogative of calling Him, the Son of God, Brother–a privilege which the angels do not possess.
Now, such being our relations with the Almighty, how can the word “Father,” addressed to God, fail to move us to praise Him and thank Him; and give us a sure confidence that our prayers will be heard? If we have this confidence, we may hope all things; for we have it on the authority of our divine Lord Himself, that the prayers of the man who trusts in God can cast mountains into the sea; that is, obtain everything that conduces to his salvation. Remember, too, that this confidence is necessary, for “he who prays and doubts,” says St. James, “must not expect God to hear him.”
That this confidence, strengthened by the thought that God is our Father, may have place in our hearts, and that we may be convinced that prayer, without it, can neither be pleasing to God nor honor Him, but that it rather dishonors Him, let us consider attentively the state of mind in which man is when he prays without confidence. What can be the reason of his mistrust? Nothing but the doubt! Does God know that I pray? that I ask His aid? or can He, will He, really help me? Each of these doubts, it is evident, must offend God. How, therefore, can such a prayer be pleasing to Him, and obtain an answer? To doubt that God is aware that we pray, that we ask His aid, is to deny the omniscience of God; to doubt if He can help us, implies the doubt of His omnipotence. To doubt that He will help us means to deny His infinite goodness, and His fidelity to His promises; for He has often and solemnly promised us, by His prophets and by His Son, that every true prayer addressed to Him in the name of Jesus will be answered.
Now, the word “Father” dissipates these clouds of doubt, and calls up distinctly before our minds those attributes of God from which flow the motives that animate the heart of a child with sure hope of being heard when it asks anything of its Father. And the first of these causes which on the part of the Father makes the heart of the child confident when it asks Him for anthing, is the fact that it is its Father whom it asks. Even an infant, resting in the arms of its father, feels confidence, though ignorant of the reason of such a confidence. In those arms it feels safer than if guarded by an army of soldiers; and, in case of danger, the little one would stretch out its arms for protection not to the soldiers, but to its father.
Now, no father on earth is to his child what God is to us, who are His likeness and His children. Does not Christ Himself say: “Your Father, who is in heaven?” Therefore no father is as willing to assist his children as God is, for besides being our Father He is our Creator.
Join the loving hearts of all fathers into one heart, melt all their loves into one great love for one only child, and yet this one heart, this one love, can never be compared to the deep divine desire to save a human soul. God is by His nature imparting kindness, if the creature itself does not prevent Him. A child, when it asks some favor from its father, feels all the more confident of obtaining its request, if it knows that the father has it in his power to grant it, and if it knows by experience that he always helps his children when they go confidingly to him.
Children of God, how great a trust should fill our hearts when we draw nigh to God in prayer! He can help us, for He is Almighty. He has already helped us, and will further help us. The grand work of the Redemption gives us the assurance of this, not to mention the particular favors which each one of us have received, such as our vocation to the true Church of God, and the many instances in which His divine providence has influenced our life.
Again, children go to their father with much more confidence, when the father knows that the welfare of their entire life is concerned in the request they lay before him, and that in granting it he grants the desires of his own heart. Children of God, go, therefore, to your Father, who is in heaven, with confidence, when you wish for some favor which in any way concerns your salvation.
Consider this, child of God, when you pray. Pray as a child of the Lord should. When you have committed sin, make your peace with God. Pray as His child in the state of sanctifying grace; and pray with undivided trust in the name of God the Father, and your prayer will be heard! Amen!
“Hitherto you have not asked anything in My name.”–John 16.
We pray, but our prayer is often wanting in confidence. It is the design of divine Providence that prayer should be a means of our salvation; and, as such, it signifes that we should pray for that which is truly useful for us. When a child, with filial confidence, begs for anything, a prudent father will, nevertheless, not grant the request, if he knows that what the child asks will prove hurtful to it rather than advantageous.
When we make the sign of the cross, and pronounce the second word, the second name “and of the Son,” we have at once before our minds the object which we must keep in view when we address God in prayer. I ask: What does it mean to pray in the name of the Son, and to ask really for something?
I shall endeavor to make this clear to you today. O Mary, Mother of Jesus, teach us, thy children, how to pray, so that we ask of our heavenly Father, in the name of His Son, whose Mother thou art! I address you in the holy name of Jesus, for the greater glory of God!
I said before, that if your prayer is to be pleasing to God, to be efficacious and sure of finding favor, it must refer to what the name of the Son indicates: Jesus–salvation. How many are there that pray and take no heed of this condition! They pray and beg of God things that have direct reference to their temporal well-being only. They begin business, leave a place, journey over land and seas, marry this or that person, and all for temporal motives for the sake of money; and they expect that God should bless all these their under takings.
But was your enterprise really for your salvation? For this, above all, you must consider when you pray. It would surely be no blessing if God permitted you to continue unmolested in all your perverse ways. We are reminded daily and effectually by the Lord's prayer, what in particular we should ask. It begins with these words: “Our Father, who art in heaven.” Christ admonishes us to examine ourselves before we pray, and to inquire: Do I live as becomes a child of God? am I in the state of sanctifying grace? is there no mortal sin weighing on my conscience? If there be, how can I dare call God my Father? ” Who ever sinneth,” says Jesus, “is born of his father the devil.”
If we weigh each of the following petitions, we shall find that in the mouth of the sinner who wishes to persevere in sin, they are but mockery, derision and blasphemy. Perhaps some unfortunate sinner will now say to himself: “I may not pray, therefore, since I am a sinner.” Truly, you may pray; but first of all you must pray and beg of God that He may grant you, a sinner, the grace of a true conversion, and that He may let you see the evil and vileness of sin; and you must, moreover, be reconciled to Him by a good confession.
But those also, who, if they do not live in mortal sin, still commit venial sins without number, should pray above all: ” Lord, wash me clean, and cleanse me from every stain of sin.”
If heretofore this has not been in your thoughts while you prayed, then you have not prayed in the name of the Son, the Saviour of the world; you have not prayed for anything.
“Hallowed be the name,” is the second request of the Lord's prayer, and it exhorts us to pray that He assist us and make us partakers of His grace, that we may glorify His name on earth by a life ot sanctity. Was this always the burden of your prayer and desire? Have you, perhaps, prayed to God only that He might make you honored and respected on earth? Alas! then your prayer has not been in the name of the Son; you have not prayed for any thing.
But the heart of a child of God must not rest satisfied with serving God, and glorifying His Christ by a virtuous life, for its own good alone. The Lord teaches us to say further: “Thy kingdom come.” God has sent His Son to redeem the race of sinful men, and we should desire and endeavor to do our best to make them acknowledge Christ, and become members of His Holy Church. As a means to this end, let each one endeavor as much as possible, that the parish in which he lives may provide for its pastor, church and schools, and let him also aid in the good work generously.
Another means, more over, is that every one, on his part, labor that his brethren, who err in their faith, and who live in his neighborhood, may be converted to the Church, and that Catholics may be reconciled to God, if they live in sin, and that they may serve their Creator as zealous children of the Church. Let him more especially consider those who are related to him; his wife, children, relatives. The means to this end are instruction, exhortation, prayer, and, above all, the example of a truly Christian life.
But even with respect to heathen nations over the entire earth, how much could be done towards their conversion if Catholic missionaries were properly assisted, which, unfortunately, is not always the case, while Protestants are overzealous in disseminating error and hatred against the Church! What do you do in this respect? Is the cry of your heart that of the heart of St. Francis: “Lord, give me souls?” Are you indifferent to the salvation of others? Then you have not prayed in the name of the Son; you have not prayed for anything.
“Thy will be done.” We must pray for the grace to wish and do that only which God desires, and to wish and do it only because it is the most holy will of God. There are, however, faults of indiscretion and ill-regulated zeal.
“Give us this day our daily bread.” After first praying to God for the needs of our soul, we next implore Him to provide for our temporal wants, so that in this, too, we may employ everything as a means to serve Him, and fufill our duties here upon earth. In relation to this, we would do well to remember the prayer of David: Lord, protect me from too great riches and too great poverty.
We only too often set our hearts upon riches, and offend God by the abuse of them. But in the same manner, when care for the necessities of life engrosses our attention and occupies our time, abject poverty can become dangerous for our salvation. If you have not prayed in this spirit, you have not prayed in the name of the Son; you have not prayed for anything, even if you had asked for the possession of the whole world.
“Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” We must forgive if we desire to be forgiven, otherwise our prayer is ineffectual.
“Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” This evil is sin. We see, therefore, that the first and last words of the Lord's prayer teach us that it must be our first and chief endeavor to live in sanctifying grace, and to persevere in it. It is not unfrequently the case that men pray for even less than nothing, when they ask for things that are dangerous for their souls.
Pray, therefore, as the Saviour's prayer teaches you to pray, for then you will pray rightly, and in a manner pleasing to God; you will ask for what is expedient for you, and what is, in reality, something; and you will, moreover, pray effectually in the name of God the Son! Amen!
“Ask, and you shall receive, that your joy may be full.”–John 16.
To pray in the name of the Father, means to have recourse with confidence to God. To pray in the name of the Son, means to beg for whatever is necessary for our salvation, that in the place, vocation, and circumstances in which we live, we may know and accomplish the most holy will of God. It means, through prayer, to secure the continual succor of grace, in order that we may thus be occupied in the affair of our salvation by the imitation of Christ.
If we ask ourselves, How is it that our prayer often does not exercise this influence on the sanctification of our lives? we are compelled to answer: Because we do not pray in the name of the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of love. Hence it is that our prayer is lukewarm, distracted, and without effect. Let us consider today the truth of this assertion.
O Mary, Spouse of the Holy Ghost, chosen vessel of devotion, Mother of pure love, pray for us that we may love God as thou dost, in order that the Holy Ghost, through prayer, may make our life fruitful in the imitation of Christ! I speak in the most holy name of Jesus, to the greater glory of God!
Do we wish our prayer to be a true prayer, pleasing to God, and worthy to find a hearing? then we must pray in the state of grace, that we may have the right to call God our Father, as the first word of Our Lord's Prayer reminds us to do. In other words, our heart must be a temple of God, in which the Holy Ghost dwells, and into which He has poured out His love. It must be a heart inflamed with the fire of divine love through the Holy Ghost.
I recall once more the reply of the venerable Armella. When asked: “How do you occupy yourself so long in prayer?” She answered: “I love.” Ah, indeed! were our hearts inflamed with the love of God as was the heart of a Teresa, a Xavier, a Francis of Assisi, an Ignatius, how would we then pray! It would no longer surprise us that the saints experienced such sweetness in prayer, and raised them from the earth–had, even on earth, a foretaste of heavenly bliss.
It is narrated in the life of St. Peter Regala, that on a certain occasion, whilst he was alone in the choir buried in prayer, a flame burst through the roof towards heaven. People thought that the monastery was on fire. They ran to the choir and beheld a visible flame, which, rising from the heart of the praying saint, made its way through the roof towards heaven an image and a sign of the love of God burning in his bosom. But even if we withdraw our minds from this extraordinary phase in the lives of the saints, whose prayer was an outpouring of their love for God, we may learn how important and necessary this condition of love of God is for every real, effective and acceptable prayer from the very nature of prayer.
For what is the nature and meaning of prayer? It is a raising of the heart to God, a colloquy with God, a union with God by praising Him, thanking Him. begging Him. In each of these aspects our love of God is an essential condition of true prayer.
First, then, prayer is a raising of the heart to God. If you do not feel your soul elevated–if, whilst you pray, your soul is not lifted up, and you do not bear in mind the presence of God–but, on the contrary, if you allow your thoughts to wander, thinking of your work, of other people, of pleasures already enjoyed or still looked for, to what is this owing? I answer: To a want of love.
Those who really love one another, think of the object of their love, approach it in spirit, and take advantage of its presence to commune with the same. Such would be the case with you, were your heart more inflamed with the love of God. How gladly and effectually would you then pray, and praying feel yourself, to the greatest delight of your soul, in the presence of God!
In the second place, we said: Prayer is a colloquy of the soul with God. When Moses, after his prayer, came forth from the tabernacle, his face shone so brilliantly that the children of Israel were unable to look at him. And what produced this effect? Holy Scripture tells us: Moses, praying in the tabernacle, spoke to God, as a friend speaks to his friend.
You pray and hardly know what to say to God, unless you are saying your beads, or reading some formulas from your prayer-book. And even when you do really speak to God, how cold, and vague, and distracted is your prayer! Although your lips move, you often hardly know what you say. What is the reason? You love God too little.
Those who love one another know how to converse with one another; hours pass by and they scarcely perceive it. And you so soon grow tired of prayer and become silent! How different would it be, were you to speak to God, impelled by your love for Him, not only as a friend speaks to his friend, but as a child to its father, a brother to his brother, a culprit to his judge, a poor man to him who, he knows, is able to enrich him! Think of the seraphic St. Francis, who spent whole nights in prayer, without saying anything, except now and then the ejaculation: “My God and my all!”
Prayer, finally, is a union with God, which may become so close, as it was in many of the saints, that even on earth is experienced a real foretaste of the happiness of heaven. How little does your soul experience of this in prayer! Why? You are wanting in love towards God. Hence, too, it is that your prayer is not what it ought to be, a necessity of the soul, and a union with God, which accompanies you throughout the day, which keeps you in the presence of God, nay, which even overshadows your night's repose, so that the word of Christ is fulfilled: “Pray always!”
For you, prayer is only a duty; it is not for the soul what breathing is for the body. On this account your acts of praise, of thanksgiving, of petition, which are elicited during prayer, are weak and languid. A soul that loves God praise's the Lord, praying in spirit and in truth; and the more she loves, the more she lauds Him; she adores and praises each of His infinite perfections.
A soul that loves God also thanks God with all the fervor of her soul, for all that she has received from Him. And as to petitions, a soul that loves God, finally prays all the more ardently and fervently, the more she knows the value of grace and its necessity for doing God's holy will through love of His infinite goodness.
From the love of God, springs particularly the prayer for forgiveness of sins, for grace; to expiate past offenses, and to become ever purer and purer in the sight of God. But not for ourselves only are we to pray, but for the welfare and salvation of others, through motives of love. If the Holy Spirit has poured out this love in your heart, then, as St. Paul asserts, it is the Holy Spirit Himself, who prays in us with unspeakable groanings. Such a prayer cannot but be effective in promoting the sanctification of our lives! Amen! (1)
by Fr. Raphael Frassinetti, 1900
Gospel. John xvi. 23-30. At that time, Jesus said to his disciples: Amen, amen I say to you: if you ask the Father anything in my name, He will give it you. Hitherto you have not asked anything in My name: ask, and you shall receive, that your joy may be full. These things I have spoken to you in proverbs. The hour cometh when I will no more speak to you in proverbs, but will show you plainly of the Father; in that day you shall ask in My name: and I say not to you, that I will ask the Father for you: for the Father Himself loveth you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came out from God. I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again I leave the world, and I go to the Father. His disciples say to him: Behold now Thou speakest plainly, and speakest no proverb; now we know that thou knowest all things, and Thou needest not that any man should ask Thee. By this we believe that Thou comest forth from God.
“Amen, amen I say to you: if you ask the Father anything in My name, He will give it you. Hitherto you have not asked anything in My name: Ask and you shall receive, that your joy may be full.” This was the secret that Our Lord today revealed to His disciples, by means of which they might get anything they needed. At the same time Our Lord wished to teach the necessity of praying, in order that the treasures of God's graces may descend on us. That Amen, amen, was a real oath that He took, for did He not in another place say that we should not waver, but that our strongest words should be yea, yea, no, no? Our Lord made His language so strong to teach us that God could not do otherwise than fulfil our wishes. He has in reality lost the liberty of refusing. St. Augustine tells us that He really becomes our debtor after a good prayer. My task today will be to make us see the necessity of prayer, and how it should be made, in order that it may be acceptable to almighty God, and thus secure for us all that our necessities require.
Our Lord tells the Apostles that it is necessary to pray always and never to give it up. Pray that temptation may not enter our heart. He wants us to pray at all times, and He frequently gave us the example. How often do we find that He went to a solitary mountain or desert, and spent whole nights in prayer! At one time He gathered His Apostles about Him and delivered to them a formula of prayer, the Our Father. It makes no difference where we pray, for prayer can be heard by almighty God in any place. He knows where we are, and we cannot be hid from Him. We need not use studied words or correct language; Our Lord understands us, and that is all that is required. But while we need no great preparation to appear before God's throne in order to pray, there are, nevertheless, some qualities that our prayers must have in order to be heard. And these qualities are but natural ones; we are making a petition, and a petition humble and simple. The prayer of a soul that humbles itself shall penetrate the clouds.
Beside the command to pray and to pray always, our necessities should also force us to have recourse to God, as we know that by prayer we can remedy what is amiss in our condition. We cannot trust ourselves with good resolutions for one hour in the day. Prayer will remedy that, because prayer gives us the grace of perseverance. On account of the frailty of our human nature, we cannot remain long without falling into sin. It is impossible without the grace of God to continue in doing good; but prayer will give us this steadfastness. Yes, indeed, the fact that we live in so many dangers, surrounded by bitter enemies, should make us careful, and watchful not to be surprised into committing sin. If we want to be victorious, as we ought to be and can be, we must have recourse to prayer. Prayer is the invincible weapon which we can use against all our enemies. You yourselves, my good young people, must have experienced the efficacy of prayer. When you were in some great danger, when you were beset by some great temptation, when some bad companion drew you into sin, when the devil was on the point of robbing you of the grace of God, and depriving you of His friendship, what was it that preserved you? It was prayer. By the exclamation, “Jesus, mercy! Sweet heart of Mary, be my salvation!” you received strength, and understood that you were about to do something wrong. On the contrary, when you did not pray, what happened? You were cowards. The least temptation was fatal to you; you yielded to the slightest demand your passions made upon you.
How is it, then, that young and old may lead a life of sanctity and purity even though surrounded by bad example? Whence shall they receive strength to persevere and be the glory of God's house? From nothing but prayer. He who prays will be saved; he who prays will correct himself of all bad habits, and will not fall into sin. The wickedness of the world comes from a want of prayer; this world is the antechamber of hell, but by prayer could be changed into the antechamber of heaven. We are very much inclined to attribute our repeated falls into sin to our weakness. We say the temptations are too strong, and we cannot resist them. But are you not blind as regards the real state of things? You do not pray any more, all prayers are put aside and you scarce have a pious thought in a week. No wonder! where there is no prayer there is necessarily sin. If at the very onset of temptation you would cry out with the Royal Psalmist, “Lord, open Thy eyes to my need. Lord, hasten to my relief; Lord, allow me not to fall away from grace; just now I would rather die than commit this sin,” you would not then fall into sin.
When David the prophet was a youth, he recited long prayers, and it made him a saint. St. Patrick, the Apostle of Ireland, rose from his couch a hundred times every night to pray. St. Agatha, virgin and martyr, preserved her innocence by prayer. A cruel tyrant had apprehended her, and determined to put her to death. But she prayed, “Lord Jesus, Lord of all things, Thou seest my heart, and Thou knowest what is my desire; Thou alone art my Spouse and I am entirely Thine. Protect me against this tyrant.” The monster consigned her to a bad woman, worse than the devil. In her house she was locked up for a whole month, but she never ceased to recommend herself to her Spouse Jesus Christ, and she triumphed over all temptations; such is the efficacy of prayer.
Prayer, to have these grand effects, should be well made; a prayer badly made is no prayer at all, and God does not listen to it. How do you pray? Generally in a great hurry; no sooner have you begun than you grow tired and wish it finished. You pray with such carelessness that you do not know what you are saying. Will not Our Lord have reason to complain of you as He did of the Jewish people, “This people honoreth Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.” Would you not, instead of pleasing Jesus, deserve the reproof, “Hitherto you have not asked anything”?
The poor man ought to be our model in saying our prayers. The Holy Ghost also refers us to that picture of the poor beggar: the poor man speaks with supplication, he presents to your view his torn garments, he makes you take notice of his pale, sickly looks, he pours forth his tale of woe with such eloquence that you are touched with pity; he begs almighty God to shorten your time in purgatory, that you may have a beautiful bed in heaven; he prays to you in consideration of the five wounds of Our Lord and for the sake of the cross; he puts on a very humble appearance, and for all this he expects a few pennies at most from you. Shall we not also put on an humble exterior as well as an humble interior, to ask of God what we need? Let us tell God why we are begging, and He will grant our request. St. Julian prayed so fervently, and used to groan and sigh so loud, that passers-by wondered what trouble he was in. Then he would say, “Do not deceive yourselves, be sure God will not give us heaven if we pray coldly and indifferently. Heaven is worthy of heavy sighs and fervent aspirations.”
You must pray with the positive desire that what you ask will be granted, and that you really feel the necessity and want of it. Many pray and are afraid that what they ask will be granted. St. Augustine acknowledged that before his conversion, while he used to pray to be freed from the demands of his passions, he wished that God would delay a little, because he had an evil inclination which he felt he might still enjoy. Many young people pray in this way. They know a thing is wrong, and they know they ought to give it up, and in fact have half made up their minds to do so, but they are afraid that God will take them at their word. St. Augustine says, “I feared you would heal me too soon of the vice of impurity in which I was indulging, and which I would rather keep than have it taken from me.”
In prayer we must show our confidence and trust in almighty God. We are all beggars; the poorer we are the more humble we must be, and the more confidence we should have that God will give us all that will make us acceptable to Him. He has to do it if He wants us near Him, as we cannot do it ourselves. We ought to be so importunate and so determined in our demands that no delay would put us off or apparent coolness discourage us. As God puts the knowledge of our misery into our heart, and at the same time the desire to remedy it, will He not give us the festal garment that is necessary in order to be admitted to the heavenly banquet?
Not only should we pray with confidence, but also with perseverance. Too many Christians fail in this quality of prayer; their necessities seem not sufficiently important, and therefore they drop the subject quickly; we do not persevere in prayer if we act thus. One thought, one request is not all that God wants before He grants our demands; we bid God to hurry to our necessities and if He does not we give Him up, much as the inhabitants of Bethulia did when Holofernes invaded the place; they said, “Now five days more will we wait and pray to God, and see whether relief will come to us; if not we will give ourselves up to the enemy.” Our young people especially act in this way; they have no perseverance, they do not believe in waiting. A young man gets into the habit of committing a certain sin, and falls into it frequently; the confessor tells him that he is following a path which will lead him to perdition. He says to him, “My son, do not continue on that road; retrace your steps and recommend yourself often to God and you will succeed.” The youth listens to the advice; as long as he prays fervently he is able to resist the temptation of the devil, but after a few days he grows tired or feels too secure, and neglects prayer. No sooner is this carelessness established than the old habit comes back in triumph.
I hope, my dear young people, that you have preserved your baptismal innocence. It is likely that many of you have. If you wish to remain faithful in that happy state, pray without interruption, and then you will receive the grace never to fall into mortal sin; those who, unhappily, have lost their innocence must pray with fervor that they may not remain in that state and be lost for all eternity. Make frequent aspirations to Our Lord, to the Blessed Virgin, and to your patron saint. These prayers will keep you from sin, and if you be in sin they will purify your conscience. Imitate the angelic youth St. Aloysius Gonzaga. It would be well if you made the devotion of the Six Sundays in preparation for his feast. St. Aloysius frequently hid himself in an obscure corner to pray; when he was a little older he prayed for half an hour in the morning and one or two hours in the evening. He rose in the night and prayed. “The prayer of the just is the key of heaven.” (2)
Research by Ed Masters, REGINA Staff
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