Tuesday 16th July 2024

Home » Our Catholic Faith » Currently Reading:

Bishop Strickland . . . Learning Personal Prayer

April 13, 2020 Our Catholic Faith No Comments


The large edition of Catechism of the Catholic Church has a splendid Glossary. It contains a short paragraph on personal prayer which reads:
Personal Prayer: “The elevation of the mind and heart to God in praise of his glory; a petition made to God for some desired good, or in thanksgiving for a good received, or in intercession for others before God. Through personal prayer the Christian experiences a communion with God through Christ in the Church.”
The Glossary refers the reader to the paragraphs within the Catholic Catechism which treat the subject of personal prayer (CCC, nn. 2559-2565). I highly recommend that my readers spend time reading those paragraphs and make sure to look up the multitude of Scriptures cited therein. The overriding direction those paragraphs on prayer tell us that we learn personal prayer by examining the way that Jesus prayed and imitating it.
As Catholic Christians we have a wonderful treasure chest of resources offering different kinds of form prayer and devotions to aid us in every season of life. And, as we have discussed in past columns, we have the beauty of liturgical prayer. The highest form of worship, the Source and Summit of the Christian Life, the Eucharistic Sacrifice, is the greatest gift of all.

What About Personal Prayer?

How many Catholics have a personal prayer life? How many are comfortable having an ongoing conversation with the Lord? That is what personal prayer is. Can we learn to do this? YES. To learn to pray personally, we need to go to the example of Jesus, as the Catechism does. Jesus the Lord regularly instructed His disciples concerning personal prayer.
I begin with one example found in the Gospel of St. Matthew:
“Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.’
“Which one of you would hand his son a stone when he asked for a loaf of bread — or a snake when he asked for a fish? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him. Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. This is the law and the prophets” (Matt. 7:7-12).
St. Luke’s account of this same teaching occurs after the disciples find Jesus in personal prayer: in communion with His Father. He demonstrates for them the very kind of personal prayer which He is teaching them about. In His Sacred Humanity, Jesus also showed them that the way of life into which they would be initiated required an ongoing conversation with the Father.
And He does the same for us. We are his contemporary disciples. In His earthly ministry, Jesus showed us that walking the way of life He invites us into will not be easy — and that it requires real personal prayer. Luke adds an additional parable to communicate to us that personal prayer also involves persistence:
“And he said to them, ‘Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, “Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him”; and he will answer from within, “Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything”? I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him whatever he needs.
“‘And I tell you, Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!’” (Luke 11:5-13).

A Relationship With The Lord

The regular practice of personal prayer leads us into ongoing communion, a dialogue, with the living God. Personal prayer becomes our fuel, the wind in our sails, helping us to navigate the waters of daily life. We can make no progress in the Christian life if we do not pray, personally and intimately. It brings us into a relationship with the Lord.
When we were baptized into Jesus Christ, we were invited to live our lives in Him, by living them in His Mystical Body, the Church, of which we became members (1 Cor. 12:27). We need the Holy Spirit to respond to that ongoing invitation. The Lord gives the Holy Spirit to those who pray.
The intimate communion with the Father the disciples witnessed when they came upon Jesus in personal prayer is to become our experience. We are adopted sons and daughters of “His Father and Our Father” (John 20:17). The instruction which the disciples received as they walked with Him daily can becomes ours. He instructs us, He speaks to us, He leads us, He encourages us through personal prayer.
The Jesus who instructed the disciples is still alive with us today. He has been raised from the dead. We celebrate that truth in this Holy Easter Season. But we need the eyes of living faith to see Him and the spiritual courage to accompany Him on the Way. Both require personal prayer. Personal prayer is an ongoing dialogue, a conversation with the Lord, which deepens our relationship with Him.
Through Jesus Christ, we are made capable of living an entirely new way of life. We become “new creations” (2 Cor. 5:17). In the words of the Apostle Peter, we become “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1). It is in the communion cultivated through personal prayer that we receive this divine life. It is called grace.
Grace is mediated to us through the sacraments, which are the continuing ministry of the Risen Jesus through His Mystical Body, the Church. Grace also comes to us through the written Word of God. But it needs to be read, received, and broken open. The ongoing teaching office of the Church continues the apostolic instruction which assists us in following Jesus But to fully receive each of these gifts, we need personal prayer.
Grace will recreate us into the Image and likeness of God, as fully revealed in Jesus Christ. However, grace invites our ongoing response and cooperation. The Catechism reminds us: “In man, true freedom is an outstanding manifestation of the divine image” (CCC, n. 1712). But, our capacity to always choose what is true and good was fractured as a result of the original sin. We were separated from God. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains the consequence of this fracture:
“Man, having been wounded in his nature by original sin, is subject to error and inclined to evil in exercising his freedom.” It also explains the remedy and path we are to follow to find fulfillment and freedom. “He who believes in Christ has new life in the Holy Spirit. The moral life, increased and brought to maturity in grace, is to reach its fulfillment in the glory of heaven” (CCC, nn. 1714, 1715).
Our relationship with God was broken by original sin. It was a misuse of the freedom given to our first parents. Their exercise of freedom was corrupted by pride and self-sufficiency, as they chose to turn away from His loving plan, and succumbed to the lie of the serpent, the enemy. Our ability to exercise our own freedom by directing our capacity for free choice always toward the good, is now impeded because of the fall of our first parents.
Even though we were freed from original sin through the waters of Baptism, there is an inclination toward sin which Catholic theology calls concupiscence. The Catechism summarizes the teaching of the Bible and the Christian tradition well in the following paragraph:
“Man, enticed by the Evil One, abused his freedom at the very beginning of history. He succumbed to temptation and did what was evil. He still desires the good, but his nature bears the wound of original sin. He is now inclined to evil and subject to error: Man is divided in himself. As a result, the whole life of men, both individual and social, shows itself to be a struggle, and a dramatic one, between good and evil, between light and darkness. By his Passion, Christ delivered us from Satan and from sin. He merited for us the new life in the Holy Spirit. His grace restores what sin had damaged in us” (CCC, nn. 1707, 1708).
The way to victory and freedom in this struggle has been opened for us by Jesus Christ. By grace we can live in an even fuller communion with God than our first parents had. In Jesus we are being re-created, re-fashioned, and redeemed. He stands at the door of our hearts and knocks. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him and eat with him, and he with me” (Rev. 3:20).
When we open the door, He comes to live in us, and we learn to live in Him. We need to regularly open the door to Him. That all happens more deeply when we regularly and personally dialogue with the Lord in personal prayer. Through personal prayer, daily life can become a classroom of communion where we can learn the truth about who we are — and who we are becoming — in Jesus.
Through personal prayer, we can receive new glasses through which we learn to see the true landscape of our life. Through personal prayer, darkness can be dispelled, and the path of progress illuminated, by the Holy Spirit. Personal prayer really is the lifeline of a Christian.
Personal prayer can open us up to Revelation, expand our capacity to comprehend its mysteries, and equip us to be changed, converted, and made new, by grace. Through personal prayer, we are drawn into a deepening relationship with Jesus Christ, whose loving embrace of the world on the hill of Golgotha bridged Heaven with Earth.
His relationship with His Father is now opened to include us. The same Spirit that raised Him from the dead now gives us new life as we are transformed into His Image and likeness.
Heavenly wisdom is planted in the field of our hearts and minds. We can a deepening communion with the Trinitarian God. The work of the Holy Spirit in our lives begins to bear the fruit of our transformation.

The Floodgates Of Heaven

God holds nothing back from those whom He loves. He gives us the Holy Spirit, His life and dynamic energy. Personal prayer opens our spiritual eyes to behold the Divine Design in our lives and see that we really do walk with Jesus Christ.
In personal prayer, we can find the strength to pull ourselves up, after the inevitable falls which accompany daily living, by grasping the wood of the cross, the door to the new world to come. Our fractured freedom is continually healed by the splint of that cross and we will learn to love its wood.
The Early Christians reflected upon the cross with the kinds of insights which only come from an intimate communion with God, through personal prayer. They saw it as the second tree at which the new creation began again in Jesus Christ. It was the antidote for the disease and the undoing of the sin which occurred as a result of the wrong choice made at the first tree in the Garden of Eden.
On that cross, the Second Person of the Trinity, through whom the whole universe was created, re-created it anew. He became the Incarnate Word. From His wounded side, His spouse, the Church, was born. The blood and water which flowed from His side is now the fountain of grace offered through the sacraments which continue His ministry among us.
How did the early Christians discern such deep insights? They really prayed — personally. Because of that, the Holy Spirit was able to open their spiritual eyes. They learned to probe the depths of the mysteries of the Christian faith in personal prayer. So can we. They wrote with such beauty because they lived in an ongoing communion with the Risen Lord who is the source of all Beauty. They really prayed, personally.
I conclude by reflecting on some of the fruits of personal prayer in the inspired reflections of several early Christians. These two examples focus on how they came to speak of the wood of the cross of Jesus Christ. First, Theodore the Studite, an eighth-century abbot of the First Christian Millennium:
“How precious the gift of the cross, how splendid to contemplate! In the cross there is no mingling of good and evil, as in the tree of paradise: It is wholly beautiful to behold and good to taste. The fruit of this tree is not death but life, not darkness but light. This tree does not cast us out of paradise but opens the way for our return.
“This was the tree on which Christ, like a King on a chariot, destroyed the devil, the Lord of death, and freed the human race from his tyranny. This was the tree upon which the Lord, like a brave warrior wounded in hands, feet and side, healed the wounds of sin that the evil serpent had inflicted on our nature. A tree once caused our death but now a tree brings life.
“Once deceived by a tree, we have now repelled the cunning serpent by a tree. What an astonishing transformation! That death should become life, that decay should become immortality — that shame should become glory!”
Such inspired words came from a deep personal prayer life.
A fourth-century deacon named Ephrem wrote hymns which gained him a title still mentioned in the Syriac Liturgy to this day — “The Harp of the Holy Spirit.” In a sermon he once proclaimed:
“He who was also the carpenter’s glorious Son set up His cross above death’s all-consuming jaws and led the human race into the dwelling place of life. Since a tree had brought about the downfall of mankind, it was upon a tree that mankind crossed over to the realm of life.
“Bitter was the branch that had once been grafted upon that ancient tree, but sweet the young shoot that has now been grafted in, the shoot in which we are meant to recognize the Lord whom no creature can resist. We give glory to you, Lord, who raised up your cross to span the jaws of death, like a bridge by which souls might pass from the region of the dead to the land of the living.
“We give glory to you who put on the body of a single mortal man and made it the source of life for every other mortal man. You are incontestably alive. Your murderers sowed your living body in the earth as farmers sow grain, but it sprang up and yielded an abundant harvest of men raised from the dead. Come then, my brothers and sisters, let us offer our Lord the great and all-embracing sacrifice of our love and our lives.”
The beauty of these words, the profundity of these insights on the cross, were directly connected to the depth of the personal prayer lives of these saints. The same Lord to which they clung — and in whom they found such inspiration and wisdom — still walks with us. He invites us to learn personal prayer.

Share Button

2019 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Vatican and USCCB leave transgender policy texts unpublished

While U.S. bishops have made headlines for releasing policies addressing gender identity and pastoral ministry, guidelines on the subject have been drafted but not published by both the U.S. bishops’ conference and the Vatican’s doctrinal office, leaving diocesan bishops to…Continue Reading

Biden says Pope Francis told him to continue receiving communion, amid scrutiny over pro-abortion policies

President Biden said that Pope Francis, during their meeting Friday in Vatican City, told him that he should continue to receive communion, amid heightened scrutiny of the Catholic president’s pro-abortion policies.  The president, following the approximately 90-minute-long meeting, a key…Continue Reading

Federal judge rules in favor of Gov. DeSantis’ mask mandate ban

MIAMI (LifeSiteNews) – A federal judge this week handed Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis another legal victory on his mask mandate ban for schools. On Wednesday, Judge K. Michael Moore of the Southern District of Florida denied a petition from…Continue Reading

The Eucharist should not be received unworthily, says Nigerian cardinal

Priests have a duty to remind Catholics not to receive the Eucharist in a state of serious sin and to make confession easily available, a Nigerian cardinal said at the International Eucharistic Congress on Thursday. “It is still the doctrine…Continue Reading

Donald Trump takes a swipe at Catholics and Jews who did not vote for him

Donald Trump complained about Catholics and Jews who did not vote for him in 2020. The former president made the comments in a conference call featuring religious leaders. The move could be seen to shore up his religious conservative base…Continue Reading

Y Gov. Kathy Hochul Admits Andrew Cuomo Covered Up COVID Deaths, 12,000 More Died Than Reported

When it comes to protecting people from COVID, Andrew Cuomo is already the worst governor in America. New York has the second highest death rate per capita, in part because he signed an executive order putting COVID patients in nursing…Continue Reading

Prayers For Cardinal Burke . . . U.S. Cardinal Burke says he has tested positive for COVID-19

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — U.S. Cardinal Raymond L. Burke said he has tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19. In an Aug. 10 tweet, he wrote: “Praised be Jesus Christ! I wish to inform you that I have recently…Continue Reading

Democrats Block Amendment Banning Late-Term Abortions, Stopping Abortions Up to Birth

Senate Democrats have blocked an amendment that would ban abortions on babies older than 20 weeks. During consideration of the multi-trillion spending package, pro-life Louisiana Senator John Kennedy filed an amendment to ban late-term abortions, but Democrats steadfastly support killing…Continue Reading

Transgender student wins as U.S. Supreme Court rebuffs bathroom appeal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday handed a victory to a transgender former public high school student who waged a six-year legal battle against a Virginia county school board that had barred him from using the bathroom corresponding…Continue Reading

New York priest accused by security guard of assault confirms charges have now been dropped

NEW YORK, June 17, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — A New York priest has made his first public statement regarding the dismissal of charges against him.  Today Father George W. Rutler reached out to LifeSiteNews and other media today with the following…Continue Reading

21,000 sign petition protesting US Catholic bishops vote on Biden, abortion

More than 21,000 people have signed a letter calling for U.S. Catholic bishops to cancel a planned vote on whether President Biden should receive communion.  Biden, a Catholic, supports abortion rights and has long come under attack from some Catholics over that…Continue Reading

Bishop Gorman seeks candidates to fill two full time AP level teaching positions for the 2021-2022 school year in the subject areas of Calculus/Statistics and Physics

Bishop Thomas K. Gorman Regional Catholic School is a college preparatory school located in Tyler, Texas. It is an educational ministry of the Catholic Diocese of Tyler led by Bishop Joseph Strickland. The sixth through twelfth grade school provides a…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for 150 years in our weekly print edition.

  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 150 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1


Today . . .

Senators Slam Army After Presentation Calls Pro-Life Americans Terrorists

Senators James Lankford (R-OK) and Ted Budd (R-NC), along with Representative Richard Hudson (R-NC) and their colleagues, sent a letter to Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth demanding answers after an anti-terrorism training conducted at Fort Liberty, North Carolina depicted Pro-Life Americans as terrorists. “We write regarding social media reports that anti-terrorism training conducted at Ft. Liberty, North Carolina depicts Pro-Life Americans as terrorists. Specifically, the slides identify National Right to Life, ‘Choose Life’ license plate holders, and…Continue Reading

Vatican excommunicates Viganò for schism

The Vatican has officially excommunicated Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith announced Friday. Viganò was found guilty of the canonical crime, or delict, of schism, or the refusal to submit to the pope or the communion of the Church, at the conclusion of the Vatican’s extrajudicial penal process on July 4. The Vatican’s doctrine office announced the “latae sententiae” excommunication (automatic excommunication) on July 5, citing Viganò’s “public statements manifesting his refusal…Continue Reading

Doctors urge U.S. medical groups to ‘immediately stop’ transgender treatments on children

Top medical groups and physicians have signed a “Doctors Protecting Children” declaration that expresses “serious concerns” about the treatment of minors who are uncomfortable with their biological sex, one advocate told EWTN News this week.  Jill Simons, the executive director of the American College of Pediatricians, told “EWTN News Nightly” anchor Tracy Sabol on Thursday that the medical group has been “sounding the alarm” after the recently leaked files from the World Professional Association of Transgender Health in which…Continue Reading

Pedophile advocacy group praises Germany’s new law softening punishment for child pornography

(LifeSiteNews) — In 2010, Jan Flesichhauer and Wiebke Hollersen penned a chilling essay for Der Spiegel titled “How the Left Took Things Too Far.” “One of the goals of the German 1968 movement was the sexual liberation of children,” they wrote. “For some, this meant overcoming all sexual inhibitions, creating a climate in which even pedophilia was considered progressive.”   That climate involved discussions about whether sex with children might be healthy for the children and musings that this could…Continue Reading

Here’s Harrison Butker’s Full Speech Celebrating Pro-Life Christian Values

Some sports stars make headlines for drug abuse or acts of violence, but one football player is taking heat for publicly promoting Christian values. On Saturday, Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker delivered the commencement at the Catholic Benedictine College, encouraging young graduates to stand firm in their faith and live out authentic Christian virtues. Now, the National Football League (NFL) is playing defense and condemning Butker’s speech as offensive. The NFL’s senior vice president and top diversity, equity,…Continue Reading

The King of Kings

Cindy Paslawski We are at the end of the Church year. We began with Advent a year ago, commemorating the time awaiting the coming of the Christ and we are ending these weeks later with a vision of the future, a vision of Christ the King of the Universe on His throne before us all.…Continue Reading

7,000 Pro-Lifers March In London

By STEVEN ERTELT LONDON (LifeNews) — Over the weekend, some seven thousand pro-life people in the UK participated in the March for Life in London to protest abortion.They marched to Parliament Square on Saturday, September 2 under the banner of “Freedom to Live” and had to deal with a handful of radical abortion activists.During the…Continue Reading

An Appeal For Prayer For The Armenian People

By RAYMOND LEO CARDINAL BURKE (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke on August 29, 2023, issued this prayer for the Armenian people, noting their unceasing love for Christ, even in the face of persecution.) + + On the Feast of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist, having a few days ago celebrated the…Continue Reading

Robert Hickson, Founding Member Of Christendom College, Dies At 80

By MAIKE HICKSON FRONT ROYAL, Va. (LifeSiteNews) — Robert David Hickson, Jr., of Front Royal, Va., died at his home on September 2, 2023, at 21:29 p.m. after several months of suffering and after having received the Last Rites of the Catholic Church. He was surrounded by friends and family.Robert is survived by me —…Continue Reading

The Real Hero Of “Sound of Freedom”… Says The Film Has Strengthened The Fight Against Child Trafficking

By ANA PAULA MORALES (CNA) —Tim Ballard, a former U.S. Homeland Security agent who risked his life to fight child trafficking, discussed the impact of the movie Sound of Freedom, which is based on his work, in an August 29 interview with ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. “I’ve spent more than 20 years helping…Continue Reading


Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: This lesson on medical-moral issues is taken from the book Catholicism & Ethics. Please feel free to use the series for high schoolers or adults. We will continue to welcome your questions for the column as well. The email and postal addresses are given at the end of this column. Special Course On Catholicism And Ethics (Pages 53-59)…Continue Reading

Color Politics An Impediment To Faith

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK The USCCB is rightly concerned about racism, as they should be about any sin. In the 2018 statement Open Wide Our Hearts, they affirm the dignity of every human person: “But racism still profoundly affects our culture, and it has no place in the Christian heart. This evil causes great harm to its victims, and…Continue Reading

Trademarks Of The True Messiah

By MSGR. CHARLES POPE (Editor’s Note: Msgr. Charles Pope posted this essay on September 2, and it is reprinted here with permission.) + + In Sunday’s Gospel the Lord firmly sets before us the need for the cross, not as an end in itself, but as the way to glory. Let’s consider the Gospel in three stages.First: The Pattern That…Continue Reading

A Beacon Of Light… The Holy Cross And Jesus’ Unconditional Love

By FR. RICHARD D. BRETON Each year on September 14 the Church celebrates the Feast Day of the Exultation of the Holy Cross. The Feast Day of the Triumph of the Holy Cross commemorates the day St. Helen found the True Cross. It is fitting then, that today we should focus on the final moments of Jesus’ life on the…Continue Reading

Our Ways Must Become More Like God’s Ways

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Twenty-Fifth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR A) Readings: Isaiah 55:6-9Phil. 1:20c-24, 27aMatt. 20:1-16a In the first reading today, God tells us through the Prophet Isaiah that His thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways. This should not come as a surprise to anyone, especially when we look at what the Lord…Continue Reading

The Devil And The Democrats

By FR. DENIS WILDE, OSA States such as Minnesota, California, Maryland, and others, in all cases with Democrat-controlled legislatures, are on a fast track to not only allow unborn babies to be murdered on demand as a woman’s “constitutional right” but also to allow infanticide.Our nation has gotten so used to the moral evil of killing in the womb that…Continue Reading

Crushed But Unbroken . . . The Martyrdom Of St. Margaret Clitherow

By RAY CAVANAUGH The late-1500s were a tough time for Catholics in England, where the Reformation was in full gear. A 1581 law prohibited Catholic religious ceremonies. And a 1584 Act of Parliament mandated that all Catholic priests leave the country or else face execution. Some chose to remain, however, so they could continue serving the faithful.Also taking huge risks…Continue Reading