ejaculatory prayer

TEN PRACTICAL PRAYER RECOMMENDATIONS FROM THE CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH

(The Angelus by Millet, 1859, Public Domain, U.S.A.)

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) was prepared and promulgated under the papacy of Saint Pope John Paul II and he indicated in the document itself that it is “a sure and authentic reference text for the teaching of Catholic doctrine….” The Catechism of the Catholic Church is divided into four main sections, and the entire fourth section is devoted to Christian prayer – specifically paragraphs 2558 through 2865. Reading the entire portion of the CCC on prayer is very valuable, but here in a quick note are ten or more important points on prayer as set forth in the CCC.

1. Prayer is vitally necessary. Indeed, prayer and the Christian life are inseparable. Without perseverance in prayer, we risk falling back into the slavery of sin (CCC 2744, 2745).  It is the life of prayer that places us in relationship with God (CCC 2565).

2. Humility is the foundation of prayer. We should go to God in prayer as “a beggar,” asking Him to bestow on us “the gift” of prayer (CCC 2559).

3. An effective means to begin prayer is to consciously place ourselves in the presence of God (CCC 2803).  St. Francis de Sales states: “Begin all your prayers, whether mental or vocal, in the presence of God. Keep to this rule without any exception and you will quickly see how helpful it will be.”

4. After placing ourselves in the presence of God, the basic movement of Christian prayer should start with adoration (CCC 2626).  In this type of prayer, we adore the Trinitarian God who is the source of every blessing.

5. Before turning to prayers of petition, where we ask God for help with our needs, it is essential to first ask God for mercy and forgiveness. This “is a prerequisite for righteous and pure prayer.” This can be done simply by saying, “Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am a sinner” (CCC 2631). Then in “boldness” and “deep faith,” tell God what it is you need (CCC 2610), asking the Father in the name of Jesus (CCC 2614).

6. During our prayer time, it is appropriate to pray for others (intercession), 2634, and to spend time praising God “simply because HE IS” (CCC 2639).

7. An effective means to end prayer is in Thanksgiving, thanking God, in the name of Christ Jesus, for all He has done for you, and even for your trials and tribulations (CCC 2638).

8. An effective means to enter into meditative prayer is to read the Bible or the writings of the great Saints in order to to stir our thoughts, imagination, emotions and desires towards the love of Jesus Christ (CCC 2705 – 2708).

9. Ejaculatory prayer. The Catechism of the Catholic Church specifically recommends that, throughout the day, we invoke the name of “Jesus,” which contains the entire economy of salvation, and also that we invoke the Holy Spirit saying, “Come, Holy Spirit” (CCC 2665-2672).  It is the Holy Spirit acting within us that makes prayer possible (CCC 2672). The Catechism of the Catholic Church also highly recommends prayer to and with the Virgin Mary, stating in paragraph 2679 the following:

“Mary is the perfect Orans (pray-er), a figure of the Church. When we pray to her, we are adhering with her to the plan of the Father, who sends his Son to save all men. Like the beloved disciple we welcome Jesus’ mother into our homes,39 for she has become the mother of all the living. We can pray with and to her. The prayer of the Church is sustained by the prayer of Mary and united with it in hope.

10. How important is prayer? Those who pray will be saved; those who do not pray will be lost (see CCC 2744 quoting St. Alphonsus Liguori).

As mentioned, the entire fourth section of the Catechism of the Catholic Church is devoted to Christian prayer – paragraphs 2558 through 2865 – and is well worth reading.

Remember, the best way to pray is to pray! Lift your heart to God!

Tom Mulcahy, M.A.

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THE GREAT VALUE OF SHORT PRAYERS MADE FROM THE HEART

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“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (1 Cor. 13:13)

The cultivation of these three virtues, infused into our souls at baptism, is crucial. These are the “God-centered” virtues of faith, hope and love. These are the virtues that direct our attention directly at God: we reach out to God in faith, we press closer to Him in hope, and by love we unite ourselves to God. Thus, the development and practice of the theological virtues (or God-centered virtues) is hugely important. We need to practice these virtues. We need to make acts of faith, hope and love to the “living” and infinitely good God (I am drawing from Father Tanquerey’s great book, The Spiritual Life).

One simple way to “exercise” the theological virtues of faith, hope and love is through ejaculatory prayer – that is, by very short prayers made from the heart. Of ejaculatory prayer (or short prayers of aspiration) Father Paul O’Sullivan says:

“The custom of making ejaculations is of such transcendent importance that all the Saints practiced it and raised themselves to an eminent height of sanctity by its means” (How to be Happy, How to be Holy, page 228).

He further says of these short, ejaculatory prayer: “Nothing is easier, nothing more useful or profitable to use than these little prayers, which we can say at every moment. Nothing will make us more happy” (p. 211). Now these short, affective prayers are very useful to busy men and women who may find prayer time hard to come by (although we must make prayer a priority). The same, short affective prayer of love can be lifted up to God throughout the day multiple times (even hundreds of time per day). We may simply say, “Jesus, I Trust n You,” or, “Sacred Heart of Jesus I have boundless confidence in Thee,” or, “My God, I love Thee,” or, “My God, grant that I may love Thee more and more,” or, “Come Holy Ghost, Creator Blest, and in my heart take up thy rest.” These are but a few examples of short, ejaculatory prayers that can be easily said all through the day; and the examples chosen correspond specifically to acts of faith, hope and love.

These short, ejaculatory prayers deepen our affection for God. It becomes habitual for us to let God know how much we love Him and how much we trust in Him. And since the theological virtues are not natural virtues, but rather supernatural virtues infused into our souls at baptism, the exercise of these virtues directs more efficaciously our union with God (relying again on Father Tanquerey). In short, ejaculatory prayer is a very practical and effective way to exercise the all-important theological virtues. 

EXAMPLE: A man goes on a hectic three day business trip. He decides that his “go-to” prayer of aspiration throughout the trip will be: “Oh Sacred Heart of Jesuswhom I adore, help me to love Thee more and more.” This prayer constitutes an exercise of the theological virtues. He also decides that in times of temptation he will say this aspiration: “By thy Immaculate Conception, O Virgin Mary, make my body pure and my soul holy” (Raccolta)! This short prayer not only venerates Mary but also is an exercise of the moral virtues. Importantly, as Father Tanquerey demonstrates, the theological virtues support the moral virtues and, conversely, the moral virtues support the theological virtues. Thus, Jesus says, “If you love me you will keep my commandments” (John 23: 23-45)

There is a famous book, The Way of the Pilgrim, wherein the author relates how simply repeating the Jesus prayer (“Lord Jesus Christ, Have Mercy on me”) hundreds and thousands of time per day transformed his life. Ejaculatory prayers, said with love, can be very powerful and very useful to growth in holiness.

Tom Mulcahy

SourcesThe Spiritual Life by Father Adolphe Tanquerey (TAN), see especially pages 458-459; and How to be Happy, How to be Holy by Father Paul O’Sullivan (TAN). Most of the short prayers I cited are taken from  Father O’Sullivan or from a pamphlet entitled, How to Converse Continually and Familiarly with God, by St. Alphonsus Liguori (TAN).

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