Cyprian of Carthage: “They All Continued with One Accord in Prayer” Tuesday, Dec 10 2013 

Saint-Cyprian-of-CarthageBefore all things, the Teacher of peace and the Master of unity would not have prayer to be made singly and individually, as for one who prays to pray for himself alone.

For we say not “My Father, which art in heaven,” nor “Give me this day my daily bread.”

Nor does each one ask that only his own debt should be forgiven him; nor does he request for himself alone that he may not be led into temptation, and delivered from evil.

Our prayer is public and common; and when we pray, we pray not for one, but for the whole people, because we the whole people are one.

The God of peace and the Teacher of concord, who taught unity, willed that one should thus pray for all, even as He Himself bore us all in one.

This law of prayer the three children observed when they were shut up in the fiery furnace, speaking together in prayer, and being of one heart in the agreement of the spirit.

And this the faith of the sacred Scripture assures us, and in telling us how such as these prayed, gives an example which we ought to follow in our prayers, in order that we may be such as they were:

“Then these three,” it says, “as if from one mouth sang an hymn, and blessed the Lord” (Song of the Three Children 28).

They spoke as if from one mouth, although Christ had not yet taught them how to pray. And therefore, as they prayed, their speech was availing and effectual, because a peaceful, and sincere, and spiritual prayer deserved well of the Lord.

Thus also we find that the apostles, with the disciples, prayed after the Lord’s ascension: “They all,” says the Scripture, “continued with one accord in prayer, with the women, and Mary who was the mother of Jesus, and with His brethren” (Acts 1:14).

They continued with one accord in prayer, declaring both by the urgency and by the agreement of their praying, that God, “who maketh men to dwell of one mind in a house” (Ps. 68:6), only admits into the divine and eternal home those among whom prayer is unanimous.

What matters of deep moment are contained in the Lord’s prayer! How many and how great, briefly collected in the words, but spiritually abundant in virtue! so that there is absolutely nothing passed over that is not comprehended in these our prayers and petitions, as in a compendium of heavenly doctrine.

Cyprian of Carthage (d.258): On The Lord’s Prayer, 8-9.

Cyprian of Carthage: We Ask that the Will of God may be Done both in Heaven and in Earth Wednesday, Nov 6 2013 

Saint-Cyprian-of-CarthageContinued from here

We ask that the will of God may be done both in heaven and in earth, each of which things pertains to the fulfilment of our safety and salvation.

For since we possess the body from the earth and the spirit from heaven, we ourselves are earth and heaven; and in both—that is, both in body and spirit—we pray that God’s will may be done.

For between the flesh and spirit there is a struggle; and there is a daily strife as they disagree one with the other, so that we cannot do those very things that we would, in that the spirit seeks heavenly and divine things, while the flesh lusts after earthly and temporal things.

Therefore we ask that, by the help and assistance of God, agreement may be made between these two natures, so that while the will of God is done both in the spirit and in the flesh, the soul which is new-born by Him may be preserved.

[…] And therefore we make it our prayer in daily, yea, in continual supplications, that the will of God concerning us should be done both in heaven and in earth.

Because this is the will of God, that earthly things should give place to heavenly, and that spiritual and divine things should prevail.

[…] The Lord commands and admonishes us even to love our enemies, and to pray even for those who persecute us.

Accordingly, we should ask for those who are still earth, and have not yet begun to be heavenly, that even in respect of these God’s will should be done, which Christ accomplished in preserving and renewing humanity.

The disciples are now called by Him not earth, but the salt of the earth, and the apostle designates the first man as being from the dust of the earth, but the second from heaven.

So it is reasonable that we, who ought to be like God our Father, who makes His sun to rise upon the good and bad and sends rain upon the just and the unjust, should so pray and ask by the admonition of Christ as to make our prayer for the salvation of all men:

that “as in heaven”—that is, in us by our faith—the will of God has been done so that we might be of heaven; so also “in earth”—that is, in those who believe not—God’s will may be done, that they who as yet are by their first birth of earth, may, being born of water and of the Spirit, begin to be of heaven.

Cyprian of Carthage (d.258): On The Lord’s Prayer, 16-17.

John Henry Newman: David and Goliath Wednesday, Sep 25 2013 

John_Henry_Newman_by_Sir_John_Everett_MillaisContinued from here…

And now, let us inquire who is our Goliath?

[…] The devil is our Goliath: we have to fight Satan, who…would to a certainty destroy us were not God with us; but praised be His Name, He is with us. “Greater is He that is with us, than he that is in the world.”

[…] When…Satan comes against you, recollect you are already dedicated, made over, to God; you are God’s property, you have no part with Satan and his works, you are servants to another, you are espoused to Christ.

When Satan comes against you, fear not, waver not; but pray to God, and He will help you.

Say to Satan with David, “Thou comest against me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield; but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of Hosts.”

Thou comest to me with temptation; thou wouldest allure me with the pleasures of sin for a season; thou wouldest kill me, nay, thou wouldest make me kill myself with sinful thoughts, words, and deeds…; but I know thee; thou art Satan, and I come unto thee in the name of the Living God, in the Name of Jesus Christ my Saviour.

That is a powerful name, which can put to flight many foes: Jesus is a name at which devils tremble. To speak it, is to scare away many a bad thought. I come against thee in His All-powerful, All-conquering Name.

David came on with a staff; my staff is the Cross—the Holy Cross on which Christ suffered, in which I glory, which is my salvation.

David chose five smooth stones out of the brook, and with them he smote the giant. We, too, have armour, not of this world, but of God; weapons which the world despises, but which are powerful in God.

David took not sword, spear, or shield; but he slew Goliath with a sling and a stone. Our weapons are as simple, as powerful. The Lord’s Prayer is one such weapon; when we are tempted to sin, let us turn away, kneel down seriously and solemnly, and say to God that prayer which the Lord taught us.

The Creed is another weapon, equally powerful, through God’s grace, equally contemptible in the eyes of the world. One or two holy texts, such as our Saviour used when He was tempted by the devil, is another weapon for our need.

The Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper is another such, and greater; holy, mysterious, life-giving, but equally simple. What is so simple as a little bread and a little wine? but, in the hands of the Spirit of God, it is the power of God unto salvation.

John Henry Cardinal Newman (1801-1890): Parochial and Plain Sermons vol. 8, 4: The Call of David.

Maximus the Confessor: Bearing by Grace an Exact Spiritual Likeness of Christ, the Truly Great King Sunday, Nov 25 2012 

Anger and desire repudiated, we should next invoke the rule of the kingdom of God the Father with the words “Thy kingdom come” (Matt. 6:10), that is, “May the Holy Spirit come”.

For, having put away these things [anger and desire], we are now made into a temple for God through the Holy Spirit by the teaching and practice of gentleness.

“For on whom shall I rest”, says Scripture, “but on him who is gentle and humble, and trembles at my words?” (cf. Isa, 66:2).

It is clear from this that the kingdom of God the Father belongs to the humble and the gentle. For “blessed are the gentle, for they will inherit the earth” (Matt. 5:5).

It is not this physical earth, which by nature occupies a middle place in the universe, that God promises as an inheritance for those who love Him.

[…] In this text (Matt. 5:5) I think that the word “earth” signifies the resolution and strength of the inner stability, immovably rooted in goodness, that is possessed by gentle, people.

This state of stability exists eternally with the Lord, contains unfailing joy, enables the gentle to attain the kingdom prepared from the beginning, and has its station and dignity in heaven. It also permits the gentle to inherit the principle of virtue, as if virtue were the earth that occupies a middle place in the universe.

For the gentle person holds a middle position between honour and obloquy, and remains dispassionate, neither puffed up by the first nor cast down by the second.

For the intelligence is by nature superior to both praise and blame; and so, when it has put away the sensual desire, it is no longer troubled by either the one or the other, having  anchored the whole power of the soul in divine and unassailable liberty.

The Lord, wanting to impart this liberty to His disciples says, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me; for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you will find rest for your souls” (Matt. 11:29).

He calls the rule of the divine kingdom “rest” because it confers on those worthy of it a lordship free from all servitude.

If the indestructible power of the pure kingdom is given to the humble and the gentle, what man will be so lacking in love and so completely without appetite for divine blessings that he will not desire the greatest degree of humility and gentleness in order to take on the stamp of the divine kingdom, so far as this is possible for men, and to bear in himself by grace an exact spiritual likeness of Christ, who is by nature the truly great king?

Maximus the Confessor (580-662): On the Lord’s Prayer, Text (slightly adapted) from G.E.H. Palmer, Philip Sherrard, and Kallistos Ware (trans. and eds.) The Philokalia: The Complete Text, vol. 2 (Faber & Faber, London & Boston: 1979), pp.292-293.

Evagrius the Solitary: If You Long to Pray, Do None of the Things that Oppose Prayer Friday, Oct 19 2012 

If you wish to pray, you need God who gives prayer to the one who prays (1Sam 2:9).

Therefore call upon him saying, Hallowed be your name, your kingdom come (Matt. 6:9-10), that is to say, your Holy Spirit and your only-begotten Son.

For He taught you this by saying, the Father is worshipped in spirit and truth (Jn 4:23-4).

The one praying in spirit and truth (Jn 4:23-4) no longer honors the Creator because of His creatures, but instead praises Him for His own sake.

If you are a theologian, you pray truly; and if you pray truly, you are a theologian.

When your nous (mind) in great yearning for God gradually withdraws, so to speak, from the flesh, and when it deflects all thoughts (noemata) that come from sensation, or memory or temperament, having become full of reverence and joy, then you may believe it has drawn near the borders of prayer.

The Holy Spirit, sympathizing with our weakness (Rom. 8:26), repeatedly visits us even when we are unclean.

And, if he only finds the nous loving truth and praying to him, he lights upon and disposes it, dispersing the whole battle-array of tempting-thoughts (logismoi) and concepts (noemata) circling around it, encouraging it on to the rapturous love (eros) of spiritual prayer.

The others implant thoughts (logismoi), ideas (noemata), or contemplations in the nous by affecting the body.

God, however, does the opposite: he himself lights upon and disposes the nous and places within it knowledge as he wishes; and through the nous he soothes the body’s disharmony.

No one yearning (erô) for true prayer who also becomes angry or remembers injuries can be anything but insane: it is like wishing for good eyesight while tearing at your own eyes.

If you long to pray, do none of the things that oppose prayer, so that God will draw near and travel with you on your way (Lk 24:15).

Stand on your guard, protecting your nous from thoughts (noemata) at the time of prayer: and take your stand on your own inner quiet, so that He who suffers with the ignorant will manifest Himself to you too; then you will receive a most glorious gift of prayer.

You are not able to pray purely if you are enmeshed in material affairs and shaken about by constant cares, because prayer is the putting aside of thoughts (noemata).

It is not possible for one who is chained to run; nor is it possible for the nous to see the place of spiritual prayer while enslaved to passions, for it is carried to and fro by  impassioned thought (noemata) and can have no firm standing place.

Evagrius Ponticus (345-399): On Prayer, 59-67; 70-72, translated by Luke Dysinger OSB.

Teresa of Avila: The Lord Is Within Us – We Should Be There With Him Monday, Oct 15 2012 

Our Father, who art in heaven…

Consider now what your Master says next: “Who art in the Heavens.”

Do you suppose it matters little what Heaven is and where you must seek your most holy Father?

I assure you that for minds which wander it is of great importance not only to have a right belief about this but to try to learn it by experience, for it is one of the best ways of concentrating the mind and effecting recollection in the soul.

You know that God is everywhere; and this is a great truth, for, of course, wherever the king is, or so they say, the court is too: that is to say, wherever God is, there is Heaven.

No doubt you can believe that, in any place where His Majesty is, there is fulness of glory.

Remember how Saint Augustine tells us about his seeking God in many places and eventually finding Him within himself.

Do you suppose it is of little importance that a soul which is often distracted should come to understand this truth and to find that, in order to speak to its Eternal Father and to take its delight in Him, it has no need to go to Heaven or to speak in a loud voice?

However quietly we speak, He is so near that He will hear us: we need no wings to go in search of Him but have only to find a place where we can be alone and look upon Him present within us.

Nor need we feel strange in the presence of so kind a Guest; we must talk to Him very humbly, as we should to our father, ask Him for things as we should ask a father, tell Him our troubles, beg Him to put them right, and yet realize that we are not worthy to be called His children.

[…] It would not be humility on your part if the King were to do you a favour and you refused to accept it; but you would be showing humility by taking it, and being pleased with it, yet realizing how far you are from deserving it.

[…] Have nothing to do with that kind of humility, daughters, but speak with Him as with a Father, a Brother, a Lord and a Spouse—and, sometimes in one way and sometimes in another, He will teach you what you must do to please Him.

[…] Remember how important it is for you to have understood this truth— that the Lord is within us and that we should be there with Him.

Teresa of Avila (1515-1582): Way of Perfection, 28.

Maximus the Confessor: Christ Makes Us Co-Worshippers with the Angels Tuesday, Oct 2 2012 

Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven (Matt. 6:10).

He who worships God mystically with the faculty of the intelligence alone, keeping it free from sensual desire and anger, fulfils the divine will on earth just as the orders of angels fulfill it in heaven.

He has become in all things a co-worshipper and fellow-citizen with the angels, conforming to St Paul’s statement, ‘Our citizenship is in heaven’ (Phil. 3:20).

Among the angels desire does not sap the intellect’s intensity through sensual pleasure, nor does anger make them rave and storm indecently at their fellow creatures:

there is only the intelligence naturally leading intelligent beings towards the source of intelligence, the Logos Himself.

God rejoices in intelligence alone and this is what He demands from us His servants.

He reveals this when He says to David, ‘What have I in heaven, and besides yourself what have I desired on earth?’ (Ps. 73:25. LXX).

Nothing is offered to God in heaven by the holy angels except intelligent worship; and it is this that God also demands from us when He teaches us to say in our prayers, ‘Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven’ (Matt. 6:10).

Let our intelligence, then, be moved to seek God, let our desire be roused in longing for Him, and let our incensive power struggle to keep guard over our attachment to Him.

Or, more precisely, let our whole intellect be directed towards God, tensed by our incensive power as if by some nerve, and fired with longing by our desire at its most ardent.

For if we imitate the heavenly angels in this way, we will find ourselves always worshipping God, behaving on earth as the angels do in heaven.

For, like that of the angels, our intellect will not be attracted in the least by anything less than God.

[…] Christ…arouses in us an insatiable desire for Himself. If we fulfill His Father’s will, He makes us co-worshippers with the angels, when in our conduct we imitate them as we should and so conform to the heavenly state.

Then He leads us up still further on the supreme ascent of divine truth to the Father of lights, and makes us share in the divine nature (cf. 2 Pet. 1:4) through participation by grace in the Holy Spirit.

By virtue of this participation we are called children of God and, cleansed from all stain, in a manner beyond circumscription, we all encircle Him who is the author of this grace and by nature the Son of the Father.

Maximus the Confessor (580-662): On the Lord’s Prayer, Text (slightly adapted) from G.E.H. Palmer, Philip Sherrard, and Kallistos Ware (trans. and eds.) The Philokalia: The Complete Text, vol. 2 (Faber & Faber, London & Boston: 1979), pp.298-304.

Cyril of Jerusalem: That Prayer which the Saviour Delivered to His Own Disciples (2) Sunday, Jul 15 2012 

(Continued from here…)

And forgive us our debts as we also forgive our debtors.  For we have many sins.

For we offend both in word and in thought, and very many things we do worthy of condemnation; and if we say that we have no sin, we lie, as John says.

And we make a covenant with God, entreating Him to forgive us our sins, as we also forgive our neighbours their debts.

Considering then what we receive and in return for what, let us not put off nor delay to forgive one another.

The offences committed against us are slight and trivial, and easily settled; but those which we have committed against God are great, and need such mercy as His only is.

Take heed therefore, lest for the slight and trivial sins against thee thou shut out for thyself forgiveness from God for thy very grievous sins.

And lead us not into temptation, O Lord.  Is this then what the Lord teaches us to pray, that we may not be tempted at all?

How then is it said elsewhere, a man untempted, is a man unproved; and again, My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations?

But does perchance the entering into temptation mean the being overwhelmed by the temptation?  For temptation is, as it were, like a winter torrent difficult to cross.

Those therefore who are not overwhelmed in temptations, pass through, shewing themselves excellent swimmers, and not being swept away by them at all; while those who are not such, enter into them and are overwhelmed.

As for example, Judas having entered into the temptation of the love of money, swam not through it, but was overwhelmed and was strangled both in body and spirit.

Peter entered into the temptation of the denial; but having entered, he was not overwhelmed by it, but manfully swam through it, and was delivered from the temptation.

[…] But deliver us from the evil.  If Lead us not into temptation implied the not being tempted at all, He would not have said, But deliver us from the evil.

Now “the evil” is our adversary the devil, from whom we pray to be delivered.

Then after completing the prayer thou sayest, Amen; by this Amen, which means “So be it,” setting thy seal to the petitions of the divinely-taught prayer.

Cyril of Jerusalem (c. 313-386): Catechetical Lectures 23, 16-18.

Cyril of Jerusalem: That Prayer which the Saviour Delivered to His Own Disciples (1) Sunday, Jul 15 2012 

Then, after these things, we say that Prayer which the Saviour delivered to His own disciples, with a pure conscience entitling God our Father, and saying, Our Father, which art in heaven.

O most surpassing loving-kindness of God!  On them who revolted from Him and were in the very extreme of misery has He bestowed such a complete forgiveness of evil deeds, and so great participation of grace, as that they should even call Him Father.

Our Father, which art in heaven; and they also are a heaven who bear the image of the heavenly, in whom is God, dwelling and walking in them.

Hallowed be Thy Name.  The Name of God is in its nature holy, whether we say so or not.

However, it is sometimes profaned among sinners, according to the words, Through you My Name is continually blasphemed among the Gentiles.

Therefore we pray that in us God’s Name may be hallowed – not that it comes to be holy from not being holy, but because it becomes holy in us, when we are made holy, and do things worthy of holiness.

Thy kingdom come.  A pure soul can say with boldness, Thy kingdom come; for he who has heard Paul saying let not therefore sin reign in your mortal body, and has cleansed himself in deed, and thought, and word, will say to God, Thy kingdom come.

Thy will be done as in heaven so on earth.  God’s divine and blessed Angels do the will of God, as David said in the Psalm, Bless the Lord, all ye Angels of His, mighty in strength, that do His pleasure.

So then in effect thou meanest this by thy prayer, “as in the Angels Thy will is done, so likewise be it done on earth in me, O Lord.”

Give us this day our substantial bread.  This common bread is not substantial bread, but this Holy Bread is substantial, that is, appointed for the substance of the soul.

For this Bread goeth not into the belly and is cast out into the draught, but is distributed into thy whole system for the benefit of body and soul.

But by this day, he means, “each day,” as also Paul said, While it is called to-day.

Cyril of Jerusalem (c. 313-386): Catechetical Lectures 23, 11-15.

Cyprian of Carthage: “Thy Will Be Done on Earth As It Is in Heaven” Friday, May 4 2012 

Saint-Cyprian-of-CarthageThy will be done, as in heaven so in earth means not that God should do what He wills, but that we may be able to do what God wills….

Since we are hindered by the devil from obeying with our thought and deed God’s will in all things, we pray and ask that God’s will may be done in us.

And that it may be done in us we have need of God’s good will, that is, of His help and protection, since no one is strong in his own strength, but he is safe by the grace and mercy of God.

And further, the Lord, setting forth the infirmity of the humanity which He bore, says, Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; and affording an example to His disciples that they should do not their own will, but God’s, He went on to say, Nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt.

And in another place He says, I came down from heaven not to do my own will, but the will of Him that sent me. 

Now if the Son was obedient to do His Father’s will, how much more should the servant be obedient to do his Master’s will!

Thus in his epistle John also exhorts and instructs us to do the will of God, saying,

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.

If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him….

But he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever, even as God also abideth for ever.”

We who desire to abide for ever should do the will of God, who is everlasting.

Now that is the will of God which Christ both did and taught.

Humility in conversation; stedfastness in faith; modesty in words;

justice in deeds; mercifulness in works; discipline in morals;

to be unable to do a wrong, and to be able to bear a wrong when done;

to keep peace with the brethren; to love God with all one’s heart;

to love Him in that He is a Father; to fear Him in that He is God;

to prefer nothing whatever to Christ, because He did not prefer anything to us;

to adhere inseparably to His love;

to stand by His cross bravely and faithfully;

when there is any contest on behalf of His name and honour, to exhibit in discourse that constancy wherewith we make confession;

in torture, that confidence wherewith we do battle; in death, that patience whereby we are crowned;

—this is to desire to be fellow-heirs with Christ;

—this is to do the commandment of God;

—this is to fulfil the will of the Father.

Cyprian of Carthage (d.258): On The Lord’s Prayer, 14-15.

« Previous PageNext Page »