Monday, September 27, 2010

Father, your will be done

Monday morning is always a good time to be reminded about life's meaning and purpose because it is the day most of us venture forth from home and hearth to engage the world once more. Many people, if not most, are filled with no little anxiety as they set out from home. In order to engage the world as Christians, we need to be prayerful so that all we do is at the service of God. I was reminded this morning that "prayer is not getting man's will done in heaven, but getting God' will done on earth." In that prayer that Jesus has placed on the lips of His Church, the Our Father, this is exactly what we ask God, our loving Father, when we pray "your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." I am happy to pray the prayer of the Kingdom twice daily and three times when I go to Mass and to pray it with the whole Church.

Prayer does not consist in pleading with God to overcome some divine indifference towards me. Rather, prayer is about me realizing how much the Father loves me. His interest in me is about bringing me to the end for which He made me, which is nothing other than Himself. Hence, I must use everything I experience to accomplish this end. It is a fact that God loves me too much to give me everything I ask for because God knows not only what I really need, but what I most deeply desire.

It is a nice thought, but a huge challenge, to pray always with Jesus' caveat, the one He introduced in His prayer in the garden, just before His passion began- "Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done" (Luke 22:42). This is what de Cassuade meant when he wrote about abandonment to Divine providence! It is after Jesus abandons Himself, entrusting Himself wholly to the Father, that "there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him" (Luke 22:43).

If the point and purpose of Christian life is to deny myself and to "take up [my] cross daily and follow [Jesus]," then I must pray as He prayed in order to live as He teaches me to live by word and example, not just to the point of laying down His life for me, but taking up it up again (Luke 9:23). So, each day I am confronted with the paradox: "For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it" (Luke 9:24). I will have many opportunities today to live this way. The psalm response we sing each Good Friday is echoing in my mind this morning: "Father, I put my life in your hands."

My dear friend, Sharon, posting over on Clarity, quoted Fr. Massimo Camisasca to the effect that "[e]ros is love as passionate desire for a good that is lacking. Eros is desire striving for what is missing. Ever since God created man, one can say that eros entered into God. He feels in Himself a nostalgia for our return to Him, He longs passionately for the response of our love."


  1. Sometimes I really wonder if you read my mind. I've been meaning to find time to write you and ask what prayer really is and what it is for. Then I read your blog and find you answered my questions. Thank-you! One follow-on question: is there a wrong way of praying?

  2. As long as you are praying to the one, true, God, who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I am hesitant to say that there is a wrong way to pray, but there certainly are effective and efficacious ways of praying, tried and proven over many milennia, or at least centuries.