15 November 2014

Ten advantages of praying always

In the Gospel text proclaimed today at the Holy Mass, the Lord Jesus speaks "about the necessity for them [his disciples] to pray always without becoming weary" (Luke 18:1).

We sometimes think tat this means we must always be on our knees in prayer and, knowing that have to sleep at least from to time, wonder how it is possible to keep these words of the Lord. To help ease our worries, Saint Bonaventure suggests, in his Commentary on the Gospel of Luke, two possible understandings of this text.

The first explanation he gives is that "this statement must be understood in such a way that always does not apply to every moment of time, but for designated hours according to what is said of that prophetic institution in the Psalm: 'Seven times a day I have given praise to you' (Psalm 119:164)." This manner of praying is kept by the Church through the praying of the Liturgy of the Hours.

The second explanation is gives is that "to pray always is understood here to mean that pray is always either in the heart through desire or an the lips through petition or in work through disposition. For those who perform good deeds dispose themselves to have their prayers heard."

Understood in one of these two ways - or both of them - we see that it is possible to pray always, even if it is not always easy to do so.

The Seraphic Doctor then goes on to enumerate ten "advantages" of praying always. With each advantage, he provides a passage of Scripture to briefly illustrate what he means:
  1. Relaxation of divine punishment - Isaiah 38:2-5
  2. Remission of sin committed - Matthew 17:20; Psalm 32:5-6
  3. Repulsion in the spiritual battle - Matthew 26:41; I Maccabees 4:13-14
  4. Restoration of the power of nature - James 5:15; Sirach 38:9
  5. Preservation of peace during our days - I Timothy 2:1-2
  6. Protection of a serene conscious - Philippians 4:6-7
  7. Enkindling of divine grace - I Kings 18:24; Acts 1:14; Acts 2:1, 3
  8. Illumination of supernal wisdom - I Kings 3:11-12; James 1:5
  9. Opening of the heavenly door - James 5:17-18
  10. Acquisition of an eternal reward - Matthew 6:6; Psalm 61:6; Sirach 51:15; II Kings 20:11

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