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Saturday, November 17, 2007

Thy. Will. Be. Done.

Words of great impact. But have you ever really considered them?

People often finish their prayers, "In Jesus' Name...Amen."

But do they know what THAT means? Scripture cites praying in the name of Jesus, "For whatever you ask me in My name shall be given to you." Scripture cites "faith the size of a mustard seed." So why do prayers seem to go unanswered?

The first thing to understand that prayer is a conversation with God, a dialogue...not a shopping list of demands, which, if made with Jesus' name tacked on, makes the demands magically fall into place. Jesus' name is not a mantra, it's not magic, and if you're praying in His name, you'd better know what you're asking!

Names are important; they have meaning, and we only need to look to scripture itself for this reality. In Genesis, Abram became "Abraham", and in the New Testament, Jesus changed Simon's name to "Peter" (Petros or Kepha). This is significant. Names indicate a particular calling, a particular destiny, and when God offered His name to His people, He was making himself known to them. When we give our names to another, we are making ourselves accessable in some way.

The name of Jesus is more powerful than any name ever spoken, for it contains everything; it containes our entire Redemption. When we pray in the name of Jesus Christ, we should have in mind his suffering, his humility, his will to obey the Father, and his sacrifice on behalf of we worthless sinners. We don't deserve what Jesus did for us, and so when we pray in His name, we must remember the agony of his suffering and death, and the joy of His resurrection. And we must recall that we are undeserving of our salvation. It is a gift freely given.

Who are any of us to make any request of God, much less a DEMAND? Who are we to cheapen the name of Christ in the form of a magic mantra, thinking that only if we attach his name God will obey US?

There is only one proper disposition with which to approach the Almighty, and that is the disposition of humility. Jesus himself gave us the example in his humility and His own prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane: "If it is possible, let this cup pass from me. But your will, not mine, be done." Humility. Obedience. Agonizing love.

So it is, when we pray in the name of Jesus, we must remember to be humble before God and remember the prayer of Jesus himself. That way, when we pray, we will be open to the will of God and allow the Holy Spirit to intervene and request what we are truly asking, for we do not know how to pray as we ought. When we pray with humility, we must understand that God may not desire that our prayer be answered in ways that we expect, for He only wants our good. To provide an answer contrary to our own good would make God unfaithful to himself and his love; God cannot contradict himself.

This leads to the topic of suffering, a topic I've seen often of late. Many people are asking about suffering. Why do we suffer?

Suffering is an evil, and evil is the privation of a good. Suffering is in the world as a consequence of original sin, although that's not to say that it is a consequence of our own sin. We often suffer innocently, clear of any direct wrongdoing.

What do we do when we suffer? We ask questions. Why are we suffering? Why is there suffering? And at the heart of our questions is our true query: "Why ME? Why is this happening to ME?"

And there is God, waiting for our questions, ready to meet us there and show us the meaning of what ails us.

God allows suffering for our own good, for it is only through suffering that we are purified, only through suffering that we ask questions, and only through suffering that we come face to face with the suffering Christ. By his suffering and death on the cross, God himself in his humanity dignified suffering, just as he dignified the flesh in his coming. And there, he meets our questions with his own example, forcing us to look into his eyes, asking us to unite our own sufferings with his anguish. And it is here that we learn of the meaning of redemption.

God is not so concerned with our suffering, but rather, what we do with it. Do we seek Him? Are we willing to be docile to His will, and recognize a greater good may come out of the evil we experience? For God always intends to bring a good out of evil. Are we willing to cooperate with God's plan of our salvation, even though we don't understand?

So when we pray, we must remember the humility of the suffering servant, we must remember to allow God to speak, and we must be willing to be docile to His love for us. It is only through suffering that we will truly learn to pray.

So thank God for all the suffering in your life, no matter how much it hurts, for there you will truly meet God.


Anonymous said...

True, you will find that petitions addressed to, for example, Our Lady during novenas end up being a long list of demands, pure and simple. Never will you find a 'if it be by God's will' at the end.

Ah, i have a question. In my country, there is only one place that offers the Tridentine Latin Mass on a schedule that is actually decently regular, but it is offered by the Society of St Pius X, or SSPX which i am sure you have heard. They, if i am not wrong, are excommunicated by the Vatican after a series of schismatic/disobedient actions, or at least do not have full relations with the Vatican though they are traditionalist Roman Catholics.

My sponsor does not wish me to go there for Mass at all, as they are excommunicated. Now, will they have a valid Eucharist or consecration, especially if most of their priests are not what we might define as 'validly ordained' under the full jurisdiction of Rome?

Thanks, and God bless you!

Anonymous said...

They are validly ordained as they have apostolic succession, they are men, etc. However, they are not LICIT, and as they are in schizm, you may not recieve communion there if you go.

If you were to go to an SSPX mass, it would NOT fulfill your Sunday obligation, so you'd still have to go to a regular Catholic mass.

Also, to be clear, the same thing applies if you attend a Russian Orthodox, Greek Orthodox, etc., church. They are not in communion with Rome, and so you could attend, but only as an observer, and you would not be able to recieve their sacraments.

However, if you were in another country and there were no Catholic churches, you could fulfill your Sunday obligation by attending Russian or Greek Orthodox, or even some Anglican churches, but you could only recieve the sacraments if they give permission for it. And again, this is an extreme situation that would only be in place if there was no Catholic in the area.

Hope that helps. God bless!

~ Adoro

Melody K said...

There is a fine line between saying that suffering happens as a consequence of living in a fallen world and that God allows us to experience it in order for us to grow spiritually; and saying that God causes suffering. However, I think it is important that we make that distinction. If a child experiences a broken leg, it is a wise parent who can guide him or her to learn patience and perseverance in the recovery process. It would, however, be an abusive and sadistic parent who would cause the break in order for the child to learn these things.
This is addressed in Luke 11:11-13 in which Jesus says "But if one of you asks his father for a loaf, will he hand him a stone? or for a fish, will he for a fish hand him a serpent?...Therefore, if you, evil as you are, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Good Spirit to those who ask him!"
A lot of people struggle with trust issues in their relationship with God, and there are some rather skewed theologies of suffering which don't help them. (Your post wasn't like that, I just felt the need to express some thoughts along these lines.)

Adoro said...

Melody ~ That's exactly it. I've actually heard it said that God causes He does not! He ALLOWS it...what WE do with it is part of our human freedom.

I posted this because of discussion I've been seeing a lot of lately involving this very topic, and as I've now had to study the theology of suffering and it's connection both with redemption and prayer, well, NOW I have something to say about it!

Just turned in an 8 page paper on "unanswered" prayer and suffering. The above is a VERY CONDENSED version of it. Without all the quotes and agony of finding the right citations in line with what the prof wants to hear. LOL!

Julie D. said...

Excellent post ... thanks for condensing your paper for us! :-)

Terry Nelson said...

"And there is God, waiting for our questions, ready to meet us there and show us the meaning of what ails us."

And did the victims of the Nazi concentation camps, the victims of genocides in various countries up until our own time, along with the little kids who are victims of abuse and sexual exploitation find out the meeting of what ails us?

The mystery of suffering...

Adoro said...

Terry ~ Unfortunately, the meaning of these things can't always be known...and of course, it's also deeply personal. We cannot define the pain or reason for another's pain. We can only be present with them in some way. In the book of Job, his friends started out well...for 7 days they mourned WITH him; they covered themselves with ashes, and they were present with him, and they did not speak.

Words in the face of much suffering are useless, for the battle and the questions to God can only be directed to and answered by God. And all of us, pastorally, have to understand this, and know to be silent, but present with the grief of another human being.

Only God can dialogue with a suffering soul...and only that soul can learn to respond to God in the deepest conversations in their souls. Those who survive such extreme suffering have a choice; to become bitter and reject God, or to recognize him within the darkness and allow Him to carry them through to the other side.

It is a mystery to all of us.

Unknown said...

The hardest prayer to learn to pray is the one Jesus prayed in the Garden Not my will but Thine be done. (knowing full well what His Father's will was.)

When we can pray for what we want, but then say but not my will but yours Lord,(and mean it no matter what) it is then that we are truly free.

Hidden One said...

For that 8 page paper, all you work, all your research and all your writing, Adoro, have paid off immensely.