Intercessory prayer and Prayer of Thanksgiving

Brother John Raymond
October 13, 1996

	Among the various forms of prayer revealed in the apostolic and
 canonical Scriptures we want to focus on two: Intercessory prayer
 and Prayer of Thanksgiving.
	Intercessory prayer is self-explanatory. It is to intercede for
 another in prayer. I can't imagine a Christian going through life
 without praying for someone else. With this form of prayer we pray
 as Jesus did. "He is the one intercessor with the Father on behalf
 of all men, especially sinners." (Cf. Rom. 8:34; 1 Jn 2:1; 1 Tim
 2:5-8) Now someone may ask, "Why pray for a sinner when Jesus is the
 one intercessor?" or, as our separated brethren would phrase it,
 "How can Mary and the saints intercede for us when Jesus is the one
 mediator?" (It is humorous that I just checked my e-mail and
 received this very question from a person who has returned to the
 Church after being among our separated brethren for awhile.) The
 answer to both these questions can be found in the Greek term used
 for "one." I have been told that the term used by St. Paul does not
 mean "one and only" (mono in Greek) but "primary one." (heis in
 Greek) Therefore, we can intercede in Jesus as members of His Body,
 along with the saints, for sinners. "Christian intercession
 participates in Christ's, as an expression of the Communion of
 Saints." (CCC 2635)
	We need to expand our prayer to focus not only on our own
 interests, but on those of others. Like Jesus we should intercede
 even for those who do us harm. St. Thomas Aquinas argues that, at
 the very least, loving our enemies requires this. "The intercession
 of Christians recognizes no boundaries." (CCC 2636) Here I would
 like to interject something I believe to be important. Why is it
 that when a person or persons harm others we only pray for the
 victims? or Why is it that we like to talk about evil people in the
 world or dissident people in our Church but never utter a prayer for
 them? God takes no delight in the death of the sinner but wishes him
 to turn back to Him and live. We need to offer intercessory prayer
 for these people too.
	The Prayer of Thanksgiving "characterizes the prayer of the
 Church which, in celebrating the Eucharist (which means
 thanksgiving), reveals and becomes more fully what she is." (CCC
 2637) Jesus has set us free from sin and death. Indeed, St. Paul
 tells us Jesus has reconciled everything in His Person, both in the
 Heavens and on earth, making peace through the Blood of His Cross.
 He has renewed all things. We the members of the Mystical Body
 participate in the thanksgiving of Jesus our Head. "As in the prayer
 of petition, every event and need can become an offering of
 thanksgiving." (CCC 2638) St. Paul tells us to dedicate ourselves to
 thanksgiving. His letters often begin and end with thanksgiving.
	I believe that gratitude is very important to God. Look at the
 story of the ten lepers who were cured by Jesus. Only one returned
 to offer thanksgiving. What was Jesus' reaction? In the private
 revelations of the Sacred Heart of Jesus to St. Margaret Mary He
 specifically mentions INGRATITUDE of men as one of the
 principal wounds of His Most Loving Heart. We are told that Jesus,
 on more than one occassion, lifted His eyes to Heaven giving thanks.
 He also specifically thanked His Father in Heaven. I recently read
 about a single mother who lost her well-paying job. Soon she had to
 scrape the bottom of the barrel to make ends meet. But she did not
 regret that this happened to her. Both mother and daughter learned
 to appreciate things much more.
	"Father, I ask you to shower many graces upon the readers of this
 column. I thank you for all the graces You will give to my readers
 and those You give to me each day." I thank those who have told me
 they offer intercessory prayer for this column