Fifth Sunday After Easter GOSPEL John 16:23-30 The Tuesday Meditation: A Plaine Path-Way To Heaven By Fr.Thomas Hill 1634
At that time Jesus saith to His disciples: "Amen, amen, I say to you: if you ask the Father any thing in My Name, He will give it to you. Hitherto you have not asked any thing in my name: Ask, and you shall receive, that your joy may be full. These things I have spoken to you in proverbs. The hour cometh when I will no more speak to you in proverbs, but I will show you plainly of the Father. In that day you shall ask in My Name; and I say not to you that I will ask the Father for you: for the Father Himself loveth you, because you have loved Me and have believed that I came out from God. I came forth from the Father and am come into the world; again I leave the world and I go to the Father." His disciples say to Him: Behold, now Thou speakest plainly and speakest no proverb. Now we know that Thou knowest all things and Thou needest not that any man should ask of Thee: by this we believe that Thou camest forth from God.
Though the disciples, no doubt, did pray much, for they were with Christ sometimes when he prayed all night, and Christ took three of them Peter, John, and James with him when he prayed with a bloody sweat in the garden, where though they fell asleep through the heaviness of their hearts, for their Master, yet no doubt they prayed, as long as they could hold up their heads, and St. John and James prayed Christ that one of them might sit at his right hand, and the other at his left.
Though, I say, they used to pray, yet Christ said unto them here: hitherto yee have asked nothing, not because they had asked nothing indeed, but because they had asked nothing that they should, and as they should, but did ask, as Christ answered St. John and St. James they knew not what, as indeed St.Paul sayeth we know not what to pray for, as we ought, unless the spirit of God teacheth us.
Therefore it was necessary we should have prescribed unto us by Christ, a form of prayer, to teach us what to pray for, and the condition of prayer to teach us how to pray aright. This benefit also did Christ unto us, not only promising to grant what we pray for; but also prescribing us a form for what to pray, and how to pray aright, that he may grant our petitions.
The first, to wit, what to pray for, he taught us in that form of prayer which we call the Pater noster in Latin, or our Lords prayer in English, consisting of seven general petitions as aforesaid, whereunto all those things, in particular, which we are to pray for, may be reduced, whereof these words, Our Father which art in heaven, is none of the seven petitions, but a preface, to show us unto whom our petitions must be directed. This form of prayer Christ taught his disciples, and us in them, saying: when yee pray, pray thus: Our Father which art in heaven &c.
The second, to wit how to pray aright, he taught us, partly in these words (If you ask the Father any thing in my name,he will give it you) & partly in the form of our Lords prayer. For explication whereof, First we must ask Almighty God, what we ask as a Father, therefore Christ here sayeth not, if you ask me, or the holy Ghost anything, but if you ask the Father, & not only the Father, or his Father, but our Father according to his words in his words in another place of the Gospel, I ascend to my Father and your Father, but we cannot call him our Father unless we be his children, that is to say,at least out of mortal sin, or in the way of doing penance for it. Moreover, we must ask him some thing, that is agreeable to the petitions of our Lords prayer, which unless we do, we ask that which is nothing, as he said to his disciples; hitherto yee have asked nothing, that is to say, nothing in comparison of what I would have you ask, and of that which I have expressed in my form of prayer: we must ask in the name of Christ, that is to say, for, and in his merits, that maketh our prayers acceptable to God. And therefore the Church concludeth all her prayers, even those that she maketh to the Saints, to pray unto God for us, Through Christ our Lord.
We must not pray or ask in the singular number, saying: Give me this day my daily bread &c. but in the plural number, give us this day our daily bread, that is to say: We must be in that charity with all persons, that we can find in our hearts to pray for them, and to wish them all good as well as ourselves, yea even for our enemies, and forgive them their offences against us as we would be forgiven of God.
Likewise we must resign our will for our petitions, to the will of God, to have them, or not have them as he shall please, according to this petition ( thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven.) If we ask thus, Christ doth promise,we shall always have what we ask, or that with is better for us then what we ask, which if we knew it we would ask, if we ask it with perseverance until we obtain what we ask, for that is another condition of prayer, whereof St. Paul speaking biddeth us pray without intermission; St. James affirming, not that the prayer, but the continual prayer of a just man availeth much.
Moreover St.Paul treating of prayer, in a tongue unknown to ourselves, though our understanding be without fruit, yet we pray in spirit,and consequently pray well as he sayeth,of giving thanks, in the like case; whereby it appeareth, that so we pray with the conditions aforesaid, we pray well, whether we pray in a tongue known unto us, or unknown,as many Catholics do, that say our Lords prayer in latin words which they understand not, but apply them to that which they desire; words being but outward signs to them that understand not our mind without them, which God understanding as well without words as with them, or with words of one language as well as of another: If the latin, a more holy language then the English, as it is, both because it is one of the three holy languages dedicated i the Title of the Cross of Christ to wit (Jesus of Nazareth King of the Jews) which was written over the Cross of Christ in hebrew, greek, and latin; and because the latin is the language wherein all the western Church (of which we are) doth celebrate the office of the holy Mass,and other public Offices and Service of the Church or the like respects: then it is better to be used, though we may understand it not, then the english we understand.
I speak not of this meditation, which is for instruction of our understanding (as preaching and reading is, and therefore must be in a known language) but of mere prayer, such as our Lords prayer is, wherein it is sufficient if our mind be known only to God, or if we offer up our prayers to God as a Service, or to obtain one thing or other thereby; of which nature is the saying of the Beads. Likewise in that the disciples came to Christ and desired him to teach them to pray, as St. John the Baptist did his disciples, whereupon Christ taught them this prayer; we may learn to desire to be instructed more, and more in the exercise of prayer, it being so profitable an exercise, if it be well done.