Benedict XVI: “There is no such thing as a superfluous or useless prayer.”

From VIS:

NO PRAYER IS EVER LOST
Vatican City, 12 September 2012 (VIS) – During his general audience, held this morning in the Paul VI Hall, Benedict XVI focused his catechesis on prayer in the second part of the Book of Revelation in which, he noted, attention moves from the interior life of the Church “to the entire world, because the Church advances through history and is a part thereof”.
In this second part of Revelation, the Christian assembly is called “to undertake a profound interpretation of the history in which it lives, learning to discern events with faith so that, through its actions, it may collaborate in the advancement of the kingdom of God. Such interpretation, discernment and action are closely associated with prayer“.
The assembly is invited to ascend unto heaven “in order to see reality with the eyes of God”. There, according to St. John’s narrative, we find three symbols with which to interpret history: the throne, the scroll and the Lamb. On the throne sits Almighty God “Who has not remained isolated in heaven but has approached man and entered into a covenant with him”. The scroll “contains God’s plan for history and mankind, but it is hermetically sealed with seven seals and no one can read it. … Yet there is a remedy to man’s confusion before the mystery of history. Someone is able to open the scroll and illuminate him”.
That someone appears in the third symbol: “Christ, the Lamb, Who was immolated in the sacrifice of the cross but stands in sign of His resurrection. The Lamb, Christ, Who died and rose again, will progressively open the seals so as to reveal the plan of God, the profound meaning of history”.
These symbols, the Pope explained, “remind us of the path we must follow to interpret the events of history and of our own lives. Raising our gaze to God’s heaven in an unbroken relationship with Christ, … in individual and community prayer, we learn to see things in a new way and to grasp their most authentic significance”. The Lord invites the Christian community “to a realistic examination of the present time in which they are living. The Lamb then opens the first four seals of the scroll and the Church sees the world of which she is part; a world containing … the evils accomplished by man, such as violence … and injustice, … to which must be added the evils man suffers such as death, hunger, and sickness”.
“In the face of these often dramatic issues the ecclesial community is invited never to lose hope, but to remain firm in the belief that the apparent omnipotence of the Evil One in fact comes up against true omnipotence, that of God”. St. John speaks of the white horse, which symbolises that “the power of God has entered man’s history, a power capable not only of counterbalancing evil, but also of overcoming it. … God became so close as to descend into the darkness of death and illuminate it with the splendour of divine life. He took the evil of the world upon Himself to purify it with the fire of His love”.
[Quaeritur...] The Holy Father went on: “How can we progress in this Christian interpretation of reality? The Book of Revelation tells us that prayer nourishes this vision of light and profound hope in each one of us and in our communities. … The Church lives in history, she is not closed in herself but courageously faces her journey amidst difficulties and sufferings, forcefully affirming that evil does not defeat good, that darkness does not shade God’s splendour. This is an important point for us too: as Christians we can never be pessimists. … Prayer, above all, educates us to see the signs of God, His presence and His action; or rather, it educates us to become lights of goodness, spreading hope and indicating that the victory is God’s”.
At the end of the vision an angel places grains of incense in a censer then throws it upon the earth. Those grains represent our prayers, the Pope said. “and we can be sure that there is no such thing as a superfluous or useless prayer. No prayer is lost. … God is not oblivious to our prayers. … When faced with evil we often have the sensation that we can do nothing, but our prayers are in fact the first and most effective response we can give, they strengthen our daily commitment to goodness. The power of God makes our weakness strong”.

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11 Responses to Benedict XVI: “There is no such thing as a superfluous or useless prayer.”

  1. Dismas says:

    Neither the evils of clown, nor rabbit, nor dancers, nor exuberant child can seperate or blind me to the reality of the Lamb of God, but only strengthen my resolve.

    Lamb of God, you who take away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us.
    Lamb of God, you who take away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us.
    Lamb of God, you who take away the sins of the world, grant us peace.

    Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world

    amen, Amen, AMEN!!!

  2. Dismas says:

    Clarification: the exuberance of a child at Mass, I do not and never have considered evil or even distracting.

  3. Philangelus says:

    I probably need to write those last few sentences down and put them over my desk.

    It’s a very different angle than the one I usually hear, which is that prayer is a nice little interior exercise we do to bring about personal change. When the Pope talks about prayer, it sounds more like a weapon and less like an afternoon on the psychologist’s couch.

  4. Indulgentiam says:

    “God became so close as to descend into the darkness of death and illuminate it with the splendour of divine life”
    ” The Church lives in history, she is not closed in herself but courageously faces her journey amidst difficulties and sufferings, forcefully affirming that evil does not defeat good, that darkness does not shade God’s splendour. This is an important point for us too: as Christians we can never be pessimists. … Prayer, above all, educates us”
    Sheer poetry! The beauty of a mind illumined by the love of God. Thank you for posting this Father my 8th grader reads your blog during lunch break sometimes( we homeschool). Your posts are excellent fodder for Catechism class. Thank you :)
    The Lord bless you and keep you,…

  5. Pingback: Pope B16 Doing Homilies on the Book of Revelation | Aliens in This World

  6. The Masked Chicken says:

    The Holy Father wrote:

    The Book of Revelation tells us that prayer nourishes this vision of light and profound hope in each one of us and in our communities. … The Church lives in history, she is not closed in herself but courageously faces her journey amidst difficulties and sufferings, forcefully affirming that evil does not defeat good, that darkness does not shade God’s splendour. This is an important point for us too: as Christians we can never be pessimists. … Prayer, above all, educates us to see the signs of God, His presence and His action; or rather, it educates us to become lights of goodness, spreading hope and indicating that the victory is God’s”.

    This is such an important point that I want to emphasize it again and again. THE central crisis in modern Catholicism is a crisis in prayer, be it liturgical prayer or personal prayer. The reason that people are so morally blind, today, is that they do not understand prayer. In prayer, cor ad cor loquitur – heart speaks to heart. In the Church, today, many people are afraid to look into the heart of God. They will look into the bottom of a bottle, be it booze or pills; they will stare, mindlessly, at film or any digitized reality; they will even speak to inanimate objects, but the one essential thing they will not do. They are afraid to look into God’s heart, paradoxically, because it is there that they will discover their own. There are Catholics, today, who are so certain of reaching Heaven who, nevertheless, are afraid to look at themselves in a mirror. These people cannot see the signs of God’s working (just try talking to them about suffering) because they cannot see by a light not their own.

    There is so much silliness about prayer, today, and it makes me truly sad to think that for many, prayer has become a sort of inner monologue of self-justification. How can a Nancy Pelosi or Kathleen Sybellius do the sorts of things they do and say the sorts of things they say and still tell us that they have looked into the Beyond in prayer? We have book after book on prayer techniques, but little actual time spent praying – reading the book of one’s heart, which is what true prayer is. Little children who cannot read can pray, but many adults who would teach the children cannot even rise to the level of a child in prayer – for if they did, their joy would be unspeakable.

    The prayer of a man tells the belief of a man. People who do not pray do not believe, at least not in any way that would hold up to what God truly expects of His people. Islam and Pentecostalism are winning converts because they demand that their followers pray. Mind you, their prayers may be brittle as in Islam, who know only of God as a judge and not a man, or they may be too much like a personal pronoun in the case of Pentecostals, who know God only as passionate Expression and not dispassionate Reason, but, in either case, they pray.

    If you took an honest poll (ha!) of how many Catholics voting for Obama spent more that one minute in prayer each day (and, “God, let my girdle fit,” doesn’t count), the results would probably be diagnostic. So many people in the laity, today, are scarfing down books on prayer and joining prayer groups as a means of escaping prayer, as strange as that might sound, but it is true, because prayer can never be done by looking without, but only by looking within – and what is within? At the center of every prayer that is a true conversation, heart-to-heart, between the heart of the praying man and the heart of Christ is the Cross – and that conversation only ever consists of one question thrown perpetually back and forth between the two of them: “Do you yet understand?” Our joys and our sorrows and His joys and His sorrows become one at the center of prayer. The beating of the nails into the wood of the Cross becomes a metronome keeping time to the joy passing back and forth between the two beating hearts. I got a little carried away, there, but any prayer that attempts to escape the Cross is not a prayer that belongs in the heart of God or to the Mind of the Church. There is a reason why the Supreme Prayer of the Church, the Mass, is a re-presentation of Calvary and why prayer which is only a meal will make one morally fat and lazy and prayer which is only sacrifice will make one morally thin and brittle. Wisely, the Mass contains both, but each in its own place, adjusted for time and need.

    With regards to the needs of today, St. Teresa of Avila said it best: if a man is in Mortal sin, let him pray and he will either give up the sin or he will give up the prayer.

    Frightening words.

    The Chicken

  7. Suburbanbanshee says:

    I can never get over how much good stuff that our high-powered theologian pope digs out of the ordinary, normal teachings of the Church. His originality is not to be original, but to take familiar things seriously and lovingly.

  8. KristinLA says:

    I used to pray for the conversion of Christopher Hitchens, that he might use that amazing God-given intellect to extoll the glory of God. Would that he had accepted God’s grace! I don’t know the current whereabouts of Hitchens’ soul, but I believe that God is a just judge; God is merciful; God knows best.

  9. Sissy says:

    KristinLA: I often prayed for Hitch, as well. In the last hours of his life, he said in relation to the afterlife “I like surprises”. So, I am hopeful that a merciful God gave him a wonderful surprise.

  10. SKAY says:

    Thank you for this post, Father

  11. DisturbedMary says:

    Holy Father Benedict is a gift that keeps on giving. God love him.