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
 our cooperation.
	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!