How to pray

On Christian Prayer, the Catechism of the Catholic Church has this to say:

2664 There is no other way of Christian prayer than Christ. Whether our prayer is communal or personal, vocal or interior, it has access to the Father only if we pray “in the name” of Jesus. The sacred humanity of Jesus is therefore the way by which the Holy Spirit teaches us to pray to God our Father.

Beautiful! Spot on. And this is shown during the Catholic Mass, where the first occassional prayer can often begin with “Almighty God”, and end with something like “we ask this through Christ our Lord, in unity with the Holy Spirit, all glory and honour is yours Almighty Father, forever and ever. Amen”.

After stating that the Father, Son and Spirit should be a part of all prayer, the Catechism moves onto praying to the Virgin Mary, and includes this:

2677 Pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death: By asking Mary to pray for us, we acknowledge ourselves to be poor sinners and we address ourselves to the “Mother of Mercy,” the All-Holy One. We give ourselves over to her now, in the Today of our lives. And our trust broadens further, already at the present moment, to surrender “the hour of our death” wholly to her care. May she be there as she was at her son’s death on the cross. May she welcome us as our mother at the hour of our passing to lead us to her son, Jesus, in paradise.
2679 Mary is the perfect Orans (pray-er), a figure of the Church. When we pray to her, we are adhering with her to the plan of the Father, who sends his Son to save all men. Like the beloved disciple we welcome Jesus’ mother into our homes,39 for she has become the mother of all the living. We can pray with and to her. The prayer of the Church is sustained by the prayer of Mary and united with it in hope.

I’ll take this as confirmation that I was taught to pray to the Virgin Mary, and that it is the official teaching of the Roman Catholic Church to pray to her despite claims by various Catholics to the contrary and claims that prayer is only through Mary to Jesus. Yes, some prayer could be said to be through the Virgin Mary, but surely any prayer said to her is aimed at her.

I used to pray to the Virgin Mary, and to Jesus. Though in later years my prayers would be like a game of Chinese whispers, asking my dead parents and grand parents to ask Mary Magdalene and a string of other Saints, to ask the Virgin Mary, to ask Jesus to help me. My Hindu friend asked me “why don’t you pray directly to Jesus?” For a non-Christian it was a very good question. Why didn’t I always pray directly to Jesus? I was indoctrinated into believing that while Jesus was the only way, there were many ways to get there. But as the Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

There is no other way of Christian prayer than Christ.

So why was I told it was right to pray in other ways? Really, I have no idea.

Paul wrote:

that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father Philippians 2:10-11 (NIV)

And Paul was right.

In no way have I intended to put down Mary the mother of Jesus. She is rightfully blessed as the chosen earthly mother of the Messiah. She may well have a special place in Heaven where angels feed her grapes and wine, because she deserves it.

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3 Replies to “How to pray”

  1. Hi Gez: the identifications you make are by no means obvious. I think they are more automatic than thought out. Christ has become a second name for Jesus but Christ means Anointed. There’s a long history of anointing.

    The purport of my question has to do with the psalms. It seems to me we are taught several ways to pray when we are beginning. They are all complementary and all result in growth and maturing: 1. when you pray, say Our Father, also Romans 8, crying Abba Father, 2. yes we pray through Jesus – when you pray ‘in my name’. 3. The meaning of the name is known from the psalms. The pointer here is the letter to the Hebrews where the writer uses the psalms to show the dialogue between the Father and the Son, and by implication, between the elect and God, where the elect is you, me, Israel, Jesus, all who fear God.

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