This Week's Reflection
Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 664: Prayer: A Reflection on the Gospel of Matthew (Mathew 6: 7-15)
7 In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words.
8 Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
9 “This is how you are to pray:
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread;
12 and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors;
13 and do not subject us to the final test, but deliver us from the evil one.
14 If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you.
15 But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.
Lent is a graced time for serious reﬂection leading to repentance as our preparation for the celebration of the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus - but also with our whole life in mind, not just 40 days.
Today the Gospel draws our attention to our prayer life, so personal and unique to each of us. Jesus commands us, “In praying, do not babble like the pagans…” - in the Greek the verb used is “to stammer” but has also taken on the meaning of ‘babble’ or ‘vain repetition’.
How does prayer become vain repetition? I believe that happens when the words of prayer are used to impress God with our treasured holiness or even to impress ourselves with the heights of our piety. Is such possible? Anything is possible and it can happen to anyone, even to a monk!!!
The prayer Jesus taught is sober, to the point and touching the most important aspects of our baptismal relationships - our relationship with God, with our neighbor and ourselves. If by conscious, deliberate sin we contradict what we pray by our lives, our choices then even the Our Father becomes babble, vain repetition…noise!
At the end of the prayer we make this petition: “...lead us not into temptation” because the testing, the temptation may prove to be too difficult, too challenging. This raises another point - does my conduct, my behavior ever lead others into the testing, the temptation? God forbid that how we live becomes an occasion of sin for another!!
The Lord hears the cry of the poor, i.e. the cry of those who acknowledge and accept their need, poverty, sinfulness but not the cry of the rich, i.e. those rich in themselves who can only babble.
Fr. John Denburger, OCSO
Prayer: “Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
Quote from a Saint: “Sometimes when I am in such a state of spiritual dryness that not a single good thought occurs to me, I say very slowly the ‘Our Father,’ or the ‘Hail Mary,’ and these prayers suffice to take me out of myself, and wonderfully refresh me.”--St. Therese of Lisieux
Questions for reflection:
Do your times of reflection ever lead you to repentance? If not, pray an examination of conscience and see if anything comes up that you need to repent of.
When was the last time that you intentionally prayed the Our Father and reflected deeply on it? If it has been some time, try doing it during your next quiet time with the Lord.
Have you ever known someone who had issues with the rosary because it seemed like vain repetition? Maybe you even thought this way at some point. What changed your mind? How is the rosary different than vain repetition?
Do you ever feel as though you fall into vain repetition when praying?How do you know when you start doing this? How do you bring yourself back to more authentic prayer?
Are there times when your conscious and deliberate actions and attitudes contradict what you are praying? What do you think this does to the effectiveness of your prayer?
Reflect on the last line of the Gospel reading: “If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.” Does that make you nervous? Do you find it hard to forgive others but expect God to forgive you?
Does the way you live your life lead others to sin? Why is that bad?
Do you ever feel like the Lord does not hear your prayers? How do you react? Do you quit praying or do you persevere in prayer.
--Benjamin & Kristen Rinaldo, CfP