Meditations by Msgr. Liptak

 

Msgr. Liptakweekly gospel meditations

 

SEVENTH SUNDAY OF EASTER

Daily Prayer in Catholic Living

Acts 1:12-14; First Peter 4:13-16; John 17:1-11.

 


Aim: (1) to describe the various kinds of prayer; and (2) to give practical advice on how to pray.

Today's Gospel is taken from our divine Lord's High-Priestly Prayer, in which he consecrates those who will continue his work in this world. This Prayer was offered at the Last Supper, just before Jesus consecrated the bread and wine for the Sacrifice which he was about to institute, and which he was to empower his Apostles and their successors to renew until the end of the world.

The Gospels often depict Jesus in prayer, always at crucial moments of his mission: before choosing his Apostles, for example, before his arrest through Judas' betrayal in Gethsemani, and here, in the Upper Room, before offering the first Mass.

The Apostles, imitating the Lord, prayed constantly; today's First Reading depicts them in prayer with Mary, the Mother of the Lord. Incidentally, today's First Reading contains the final reference to our Lady in this life. This is significant in that Mary is a sign of the Church, the model of every person of faith. Seeing her for the last time waiting in prayer should remind us that we are called to follow her example.

The gift of the Spirit, whose coming is described in today's Second Reading, depends upon our constant and renewed prayer. This is especially true in times of distress, sorrow, or suffering of any kind, as the Second Reading suggests. (Peter wrote today's passage when it was rapidly becoming a crime even to be a Christian.)

Viewed in itself, prayer means communicating with God. This conversation can reflect one or several motives: thanksgiving, for example, or petition, penance, atonement. Viewed from another aspect, prayer is either liturgical or private. Liturgical prayer is the official prayer of the Church; "liturgy" derives from a Greek word signifying a public duty or work for the common welfare. Liturgical prayer includes first and foremost the Eucharist or Mass, as well as all the sacraments. It also encompasses public ritual, such as the Divine Office or the Liturgy of the Hours, traditionally recited daily by priests and religious, as well as many of the laity.

Private prayer refers to nonliturgical prayer offered either by individuals or by groups. Vatican Council II reminds that whereas the liturgy is, in a certain sense, endowed with a dignity higher than that of nonliturgical prayer, this principle does not minimize, much less dispense from, the obligation of non-liturgical prayer (The Constitution of the Sacred Liturgy, Section 12).

Prayer affirms faith, and faith is a gift from God. So that prayer itself is a divine charism. Indeed, we could not pray unless Jesus sent his Spirit to us to say, "Father" (Romans 8:15, 26-27). This also means that Jesus prays with us and for us.

Prayer, Christ told us, must be made in humility (Luke 12:22-3 1). And it must be persevered in; one cannot "give up" on prayer (Luke 11:5-13). It goes without saying, of course, that prayer must be sincere. As Shakespeare said, "words without thoughts never to heaven go" (Hamlet III:IV, 97),

We pray today, then, to realize more intensely the importance of constant renewed prayer. To this end we remember Mary, the Mother of the Lord, praying with the Apostles in that first post Easter season.

 
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