The Four Prayers


It is of the utmost importance to focus on only a few prinbac kciples in our spiritual life. It is from these few foundation principles that we should draw nourishment for our journey and find directions for the way. To outsiders of the Community, it may seem strange how we insist on the four prayers that we are obliged to say daily. But to us who are consecrated to God in the Community, these formulas tell us how our life should be and how to attain its fulfillment. These four prayers are closely connected with one another. We shouldn't think that by focusing on these four prayers, we become impoverished souls; on the contrary, we shall be enriched if we meditate upon what they teach and propose.

It is evident to us Christians that the spiritual life depends on listening to the Word of God (Hear, O Israel). It is God Who has the initiative and His initiative is precisely the gift of His Son, Who is the Eternal Word. Before the Incarnation, God was already giving Himself to man by speaking His Word, which was imposed on man as a law of total love. If God is the final end of man, then man must order himself to God with total love. But is it possible for man to fulfill God's will, which demands boundless love from us? Life on earth necessarily leads to dispersion. Is it possible for man to withdraw from all commitments with others and society, from all contact with the material world so as to order himself for God alone in love? Thus the need for prayer (Our Father): man must ask God to give him the power to do His Will. The spiritual life depends not only on the Word, but also on the grace that makes the Word of God effective in the life of each person. The prayer that Jesus taught us is not one of praise or thanksgiving, but a prayer that is essentially one of petition in which we beg forgiveness and help. It would be presumptuous of us to think we can respond to God without asking Him for help day by day. The love that God expects from you comes from God Himself; thus you have to ask Him for it. But in what way does this love live in us? In what sense can it be said to be life-giving?

The third prayer is entitled the Praises of God the Most High of St. Francis of Assisi. It is this prayer that tells us what the final end of spiritual life, the greatest fruit of love ought to be. Once our soul has finally freed itself of all selfish attachments to itself and to things, then it reaches the stage in which it lives nothing but the contemplation of God, it is delighted with the infinite perfections of God, it is happy that God is Who He is, and in this state of contemplation, it lives in bliss.

The Beatitudes tell us exactly how a soul that is free from all selfish attachments to itself and to things lives in a great peace, infinite sweetness and pure joy in God. The soul in this state has become completely transparent in its detachment form everything and it has attained union with God. But the union of the soul with God involves union with God's creation as well. Creation is not in opposition to God; rather, this union with God implies a new union with other men and things: it is thus because everything is in God. The detachment that was necessary previously was nothing but the condition for this union of love in which there is no opposition and no division. The soul is now humble and chaste and radiates peace and in its union with God it loves all men with the very love of God, all men who have become part of the same body, the one Mystical Body of Christ.

We shouldn't be afraid of the greatness of our vocation; rather, let us ask the Lord to sustain our faith. He is the One who will bring to completion what he asks us to do, provided however that we are faithful to listening to the Word, provided that we live continual prayer and keep living in the Divine Presence. Listening to the Word of God and our humble but trusting prayer that we say every day to God will purify our gaze and so enable us to live in the presence of God; and it is this life in the Presence of God that will give us a foretaste of the life of heaven even amidst trials and tribulations.

The Father
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