From the treatise On Prayer by Tertullian, priest (160-220)
The spiritual offering of prayer
Prayer is the offering in spirit that has done away with the sacrifices of old.What good do I receive from the multiplicity of your sacrifices? asks God. I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams, and I do not want the fat of lambs and the blood of bulls and goats. Who has asked for these from your hands?
What God has asked for we learn from the Gospel. The hour will come, he says, when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. God is a spirit, and so he looks for worshipers who are like himself.
We are true worshipers and true priests. We pray in spirit, and so offer in spirit the sacrifice of prayer. Prayer is an offering that belongs to God and is acceptable to him: it is the offering he has asked for, the offering he planned as his own.
We must dedicate this offering with our whole heart, we must fatten it on faith, tend it by truth, keep it unblemished through innocence and clean through chastity, and crown it with love. We must escort it to the altar of God in a procession of good works to the sound of psalms and hymns. Then it will gain for us all that we ask of God.
Since God asks for prayer offered in spirit and in truth, how can he deny anything to this kind of prayer? How great is the evidence of its power, as we read and hear and believe.
Of old, prayer was able to rescue from fire and beasts and hunger, even before it received its perfection from Christ. How much greater then is the power of Christian prayer. No longer does prayer bring an angel of comfort to the heart of a fiery furnace, or close up the mouths of lions, or transport to the hungry food from the fields. No longer does it remove all sense of pain by the grace it wins for others. But it gives the armor of patience to those who suffer, who feel pain, who are distressed. It strengthens the power of grace, so that faith may know what it is gaining from the Lord, and understand what it is suffering for the name of God.
In the past prayer was able to bring down punishment, rout armies, withhold the blessing of rain. Now, however, the prayer of the just turns aside the whole anger of God, keeps vigil for its enemies, pleads for persecutors. Is it any wonder that it can call down water from heaven when it could obtain fire from heaven as well? Prayer is the one thing that can conquer God. But Christ has willed that it should work no evil, and has given it all power over good.
Its only art is to call back the souls of the dead from the very journey into death, to give strength to the weak, to heal the sick, to exorcise the possessed, to open prison cells, to free the innocent from their chains. Prayer cleanses from sin, drives away temptations, stamps out persecutions, comforts the fainthearted, gives new strength to the courageous, brings travelers safely home, calms the waves, confounds robbers, feeds the poor, overrules the rich, lifts up the fallen, supports those who are falling, sustains those who stand firm.
All the angels pray. Every creature prays. Cattle and wild beasts pray and bend the knee. As they come from their barns and caves they look out to heaven and call out, lifting up their spirit in their own fashion. The birds too rise and lift themselves up to heaven: they open out their wings, instead of hands, in the form of a cross, and give voice to what seems to be a prayer.
What more need be said on the duty of prayer? Even the Lord himself prayed. To him be honor and power for ever and ever. Amen. (divineoffice.org)
From the book addressed to Autolycus by Saint Theophilus of Antioch, bishop
Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God
If you say, “Show me your God,” I will say to you, “Show me what kind of person you are, and I will show you my God.” Show me then whether the eyes of your mind can see, and the ears of your heart hear.
It is like this. Those who can see with the eyes of their bodies are aware of what is happening in this life on earth. They get to know things that are different from each other. They distinguish light and darkness, black and white, ugliness and beauty, elegance and inelegance, proportion and lack of proportion, excess and defect. The same is true of the sounds we hear: high or low or pleasant. So it is with the ears of our heart and the eyes of our mind in their capacity to hear or see God.
God is seen by those who have the capacity to see him, provided that they keep the eyes of their mind open. All have eyes, but some have eyes that are shrouded in darkness, unable to see the light of the sun. Because the blind cannot see it, it does not follow that the sun does not shine. The blind must trace the cause back to themselves and their eyes. In the same way, you have eyes in your mind that are shrouded in darkness because of your sins and evil deeds.
A person’s soul should be clean, like a mirror reflecting light. If there is rust on the mirror his face cannot be seen in it. In the same way, no one who has sin within him can see God.
But if you will you can be healed. Hand yourself over to the doctor, and he will open the eyes of your mind and heart. Who is to be the doctor? It is God, who heals and gives life through his Word and wisdom. Through his Word and wisdom he created the universe, for by his Word the heavens were established, and by his Spirit all their array. His wisdom is supreme. God by wisdom founded the earth, by understanding he arranged the heavens, by his knowledge the depths broke forth and the clouds poured out the dew.
If you understand this, and live in purity and holiness and justice, you may see God. But, before all, faith and the fear of God must take the first place in your heart, and then you will understand all this. When you have laid aside mortality and been clothed in immortality, then you will see God according to your merits. God raises up your flesh to immortality along with your soul, and then, once made immortal, you will see the immortal One, if you believe in him now. (divineoffice.org)
Message, 25. March 2014
“Dear children! I am calling you anew: begin the battle against sin as in the first days, go to confession and decide for holiness. The love of God will begin to flow through you into the world, peace will begin to rule in your hearts and God's blessing will fill you. I am with you and intercede for all of you before my Son Jesus. Thank you for having responded to my call.”
Medjugorje - More mysterious happenings are happening in a small town in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as a wheelchair-bound Italian teenager finally walks.
The town Medjugorje was once more in the news on March 24, 2014, as leading Croatian daily Slobodna Dalmacija reported on the curious case of 19-year-old Italian pilgrim suddenly able to walk after years in a wheelchair after contact with a statue of the Virgin Mary.
According to the report, which was based on a television appearance by the young Andrea de Luce on popular Italian show Domenica In on RAI, de Luce's parents took him to Medjugorje as a last hope of healing a bone disease which had him confined to a wheelchair.
Medjugorje is a small town in Herzegovina region of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which was transformed from a sleepy rural village in 1981 by the alleged apparition of the Virgin Mary to six local children on a hillside. The first apparition was repeated, and they still continue today, resulting in a wave of religious tourism and more than 1 million visitors a year from Catholic communities all over the world. The town has been transformed into a major tourist centre, with local businesses providing accommodation for up to 10 months a year for their religious tourism guests.
According to the report, de Luce's parents took him to Medjugorje in September 2009, in the hope that prayer might help. Staying in front of a statue of Our Lady one evening, he says he was hit by a ray of light from her face. Returning home to his native Castelmar di Stabia on the bus, his parents were preparing the wheelchair for him when he suddenly felt he could walk. And he did.
Since that day, de Luce explained on television that he has been able to engage in normal activities such as bike riding and playing football, something totally unthinkable prior to the Medjugorje visit.
"The only explanation for this is the healing miracle of Our Lady of Medjugorje," said Paolo Brosia, a former television reporter who appeared on the show, "because Andrea's mom and aunt are fervently praying for healing , and the culmination occurred just when he visited the shrine."
Miracle or not? It is the latest episode in the colourful recent history of Medjugorje, whose amazing international appeal has not yet reached The Vatican, as the Catholic Church has yet to officially recognise the happenings in Medjugorje.
From a homily by Saint Basil the Great, bishop (330-379)
Boast only of the Lord
The wise man must not boast of his wisdom, nor the strong man of his strength, nor the rich man of his riches. What then is the right kind of boasting? What is the source of man’s greatness? Scripture says: The man who boasts must boast of this, that He knows and understands that I am the Lord. Here is man’s greatness, here is man’s glory and majesty: to know in truth what is great, to hold fast to it, and to seek glory from the Lord of glory. The Apostle tells us: The man who boasts must boast of the Lord.He has just said: Christ was appointed by God to be our wisdom, our righteousness, our sanctification, our redemption, so that, as it is written, a man who boasts must boast of the Lord.
Boasting of God is perfect and complete when we take no pride in our own righteousness but acknowledge that we are utterly lacking in true righteousness and have been made righteous only by faith in Christ.
Paul boasts of the fact that he holds his own righteousness in contempt and seeks the righteousness in faith that comes through Christ and is from God. He wants only to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and to have fellowship with his sufferings by taking on the likeness of his death, in the hope that somehow he may arrive at the resurrection of the dead.
Here we see all overweening pride laid low. Humanity, there is nothing left for you to boast of, for your boasting and hope lie in putting to death all that is your own and seeking the future life that is in Christ. Since we have its first fruits we are already in its midst, living entirely in the grace and gift of God.
It is God who is active within us, giving us both the will and the achievement, in accordance with his good purpose. Through his Spirit, God also reveals his wisdom in the plan he has preordained for our glory.
God gives power and strength in our labors. I have toiled harder than all the others, Paul says, but it is not I but the grace of God, which is with me.
God rescues us from dangers beyond all human expectation. We felt within ourselves that we had received the sentence of death, so that we might not trust ourselves but in God, who raises the dead; from so great a danger did he deliver us, and does deliver us; we hope in him, for he will deliver us again. (divineoffice.org)
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