Prayer in the Catechism of the
Catholic Church #2
November 26, 1995
Brother John Raymond
Last time, in this column, we saw that the Catechism of the
Catholic Church considers prayer as a relationship with God. Also,
we saw how prayer is a gift from God. Next let's look at prayer as a
covenant with God. The heart is the place of encounter with God, the
place of covenant with Him. How many times has Our Lady of
Medjugorje referred to "prayer from the heart." When we pray the
whole man prays but the fount or source of prayer is the heart.
Sacred Scripture mentions different founts or wellsprings of
prayer within us. At times this is said to be the soul or spirit.
But the most frequent reference to the source of prayer within man
is his heart (referred to more than a thousand times.) According to
Biblical understanding, the heart is the place where we withdraw. It
is a hidden center of ourselves. The heart is the place of decision
and truth. Our Lord said that where our heart is there our treasure
lies. (cf. Mt. 6,21) God wills in this covenant relationship our
salvation. God takes no delight in the death of the sinner. He
wishes that he turn to Him and live. (cf. Ezek. 18,32) Each year at
Easter we renew our baptismal promises, our covenant to seek God and
reject satan. If we have fallen from God's grace we have broken our
covenant with Him and choose to reject His friendship with us.
Christ is the bridge between Man and God. Our prayer is a
covenant relationship between ourselves and God in Christ. This
dynamic relationship's action springs from both the Holy Spirit and
ourselves. It is entirely directed to God the Father, "in union with
the human will of the Son of God made man." (Catechism #2564) Christ
established the new and eternal covenant between God and man. Apart
from Him we can do nothing. (cf. Jn. 15,5)
Perhaps in modern terminology we would call covenant a contract.
Such an agreement involves trust and responsibility on both sides.
Of course, on God's side we have nothing to worry about. Our side is
another matter. Baptism begins the agreement. In the Holy Mass we
remember, make present and offer the new covenant made in the Blood
of Christ. The sacrament of reconciliation repairs our breach in the
contract. So our relationship with God is a contractual one, a
contract of mutual love.
It should not be surprising, therefore, that God relates to us in
other ways by contract. Take for instance the promise of the Sacred
Heart of Jesus for those who make the nine consecutive first fridays
of the month. If one receives Holy Communion in reparation on these
first fridays the grace of final perseverance is promised. Many
private revelations contain such and such a prayer or action on our
part for which God promises such and such a grace on His part.
Unfortunately, some people belittle these promises. But if one
thinks about it, doesn't God deals with us in this fashion? Our
prayer relationship involves contracts with God because God wills
Marriage and friendship are founded on some basic agreements
between two people. Betrayal of agreements, depending on the
severity, can sever these relationships. Fidelity brings trust a
strengthening of relationship bonds. May we recognize and value our
covenant with God. May our prayer flow from our covenant, a covenant
that flows from the heart!