PART IV: CHRISTIAN PRAYER
Section One: Prayer in the Christian Life
Chapter 1: The Revelation of Prayer
Article 3, In the Age of the Church
V. Prayer of Praise (cont’d)
§ 2640 St. Luke, in his Gospel, often expresses wonder and praise at the marvels of Christ and, in his Acts of the Apostles, stresses them as actions of the Holy Spirit: the community of Jerusalem, the invalid healed by Peter and John, the crowd that gives glory to God for that, and the pagans of Pisidia who “were glad and glorified the word of God” (Acts 2:47; 3:9; 4:21; 13:48).
§ 2641 “[Address] one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart” (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16). Like the inspired writers of the New Testament, the first Christian communities read the Book of Psalms in a new way, singing in it the mystery of Christ.
In the newness of the Spirit, they also composed hymns and canticles in the light of the unheard-of event that God accomplished in His Son: His Incarnation, His Death which conquered death, His Resurrection, and Ascension to the right hand of the Father (cf. Philippians 2:6-11; Col 1:15-20; Eph 5:14; 1 Timothy 3:16; 6:15-16; 2 Tim 2:11-13). Doxology, the praise of God, arises from this “marvelous work” of the whole economy of salvation (cf. Eph 1:3-14; Romans 16:25-27; Eph 3:20-21; Jude 24-25).
§ 2642 The Revelation of “what must soon take place,” the Apocalypse, is borne along by the songs of the Heavenly Liturgy (cf. Revelation 4:8-11; 5:9-14; 7:10-12), but also by the intercession of the “witnesses” (martyrs) (Rev 6:10). The prophets and the saints, all those who were slain on earth for their witness to Jesus, the vast throng of those who, having come through the great tribulation, have gone before us into the Kingdom, all sing the praise and glory of Him who sits on the Throne, and of the Lamb (cf. Rev 18:24; 19:1-8).
In communion with them, the Church on Earth also sings these songs with faith in the midst of trial. By means of petition and intercession, faith hopes against all hope and gives thanks to the “Father of lights,” from whom “every perfect gift” comes down (James 1:17). Thus, faith is pure praise.
§ 2643 The Eucharist contains and expresses all forms of prayer: it is “the pure offering” of the whole Body of Christ to the glory of God’s Name (cf. Malachi 1:11) and, according to the traditions of East and West, it is the “sacrifice of praise.”
§ 2644 The Holy Spirit, who teaches the Church and recalls to her all that Jesus said, also instructs her in the life of prayer, inspiring new expressions of the same basic forms of prayer: blessing, petition, intercession, thanksgiving, and praise.
§ 2645 Because God blesses the human heart, it can in return bless Him who is the Source of every blessing.
§ 2646 Forgiveness, the quest for the Kingdom, and every true need are objects of the prayer of petition.
§ 2647 Prayer of intercession consists in asking on behalf of another. It knows no boundaries and extends to one’s enemies.
§ 2648 Every joy and suffering, every event and need can become the matter for thanksgiving which, sharing in that of Christ, should fill one’s whole life: “Give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18a).
§ 2649 Prayer of praise is entirely disinterested and rises to God, lauds Him, and gives Him glory for His own sake, quite beyond what He has done, but simply because HE IS.
Tomorrow – Chapter 2: The Tradition of Prayer
(Part IV, Section 1 – to be continued)
[Editor’s Note: The abbreviation in today’s posting is noted below.]
- “cf.” – “confer [compare or refer to]”