(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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