For What and for Whom We Should Pray (Part 3)
(Continued from yesterday)
"Rohrbacher relates in his' Church History' that, among the pilgrims who flocked to the tomb of St. Thomas of Canterbury to seek favors through the saint's intercession, there was a blind man who prayed so fervently for the recovery of his lost sight that he was perfectly cured. After returning home, however, he began to reflect that the restoration of his sight might, perhaps, prove an obstacle to his salvation. He accordingly returned to the tomb of the saint, and, after fervently praying that were his sight ever to be injurious to his soul he should again lose it, he became totally blind once more. He acted most wisely, for it was much better for him to be blind than run the risk of losing his soul. Unguarded looks are often the cause of grievous sin, as is shown by the example of David and of many others.
"When our prayers for temporal favors, either for ourselves or in behalf of others, are not granted, we should consider God's refusal a real benefit rather than a misfortune. In beseeching God for temporals we should be indifferent as to the result of- our prayers, being equally ready to accept a refusal or a favorable hearing from Him. If such should be our dispositions, God, when refusing our request, will not fail to compensate us by bestowing on us more excellent favors which we do not think of asking.
“ 'In vain does a child cry for a sword or a live coal,' remarks St John Chrysostom; 'his parents justly refuse him what may prove very hurtful to him. In like manner, God justly and kindly refuses us what is injurious to us; but, in His goodness, He will give us something better instead.' Let us in all our prayers aim principally at the salvation of our soul, and we shall obtain also temporal favors from God, according to this saying of our loving Redeemer: 'Seek ye therefore first the kingdom of God, and His justice: and all these things shall be added unto you' (Matt. vi. 33).
"For whom should we pray? We should, first of all, pray for ourselves, because our salvation is our first and most important duty. Although, by the law of charity, we are bound to pray for all men, there are, nevertheless, some for whom we have a special obligation or special reasons to pray. Children should daily pray for their parents, parents for their children, members of the same family and household or community for one another, inferiors for their superiors, both ecclesiastical and civil, and superiors for their inferiors. It is also incumbent on us to pray for our benefactors, both spiritual and temporal, for our relatives, for those who ask our prayers and who pray for us, for our friends, and for our enemies also, whosoever they may be or whatever evil they may have done or may wish us.
“We ought, likewise, to pray for the perseverance of the just and for the conversion of sinners, of heretics, schismatics, Jews, and unbelievers. It is a most praiseworthy custom to pray for the sick, for those who are in their agony, for all who are in danger of death, or in danger of losing their innocence, and for 'ill who are in distress, pain, trouble, or sorrow.
"It behooves us daily to remember in our prayers the souls in purgatory, particularly the souls toward whom we have some special obligation, e.g., the souls of our parents, of our benefactors, of those who are suffering on our account. We should endeavor to gain many indulgences for their benefit. If, during our life, we pray for them, God will, after our death, inspire compassionate souls to pray for us when we are in purgatory, for, says our divine Saviour, 'with what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again' (Matt. vii. 2 )."
From "Prayer-Book for Religious"
by Rev. F.X. Lasance
Copyright 1904, 1914