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Novena Prayer to St Philomena

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the Holy Ghost &
Veni Creator
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Thoughts for the Week


Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Thoughts for the Week - Fr R Taouk 
19th October 2014

Bishop Fulton Sheen on Prayer of Petition

If a boy studies, he will know; if he strikes a match, it will ignite. In the spiritual order we have the words of Our Lord: "Ask, and the gift will come; seek, and you shall find; knock and the door shall be opened to you". (Matt. 7:7.) But there must be the preparation for God's help through the asking, and the seeking, and the knocking. Millions of favours are hanging from Heaven on silken cords - prayer is the sword that will cut them. "See where I stand at the door, knocking; if anyone listens to My voice and opens the door, I will come in to visit him, and take My supper with him, and he shall sup with Me." (Apoc. 3:20.)

This text reverses the order that many people think to be the law of prayer. They assume that when we pray we ring God's doorbell and ask for a favour. Actually, it is He Who rings our bell. "I stand at the door, knocking." God could do much more for any soul if its will were more conformable - the weakness is always on the receiving end. Broadcasting stations wish to send programs into the home, but the programs do not become available unless a listener tunes in to them.

Many blessings and favours come to those individuals and families which put themselves wholeheartedly in the area of God's love - their lives are in sharp contrast to those who exclude themselves from that area of love. In the raising of a family, if the economic is made a primary concern and the Providence of God secondary, it is not to be expected that there will be the same showering of gifts and care on God's part as in a family where Providence comes first. The parents who trust God can tap a source of power and happiness which the other family does not make available. As human friends give us more in proportion as we trust them, and less in proportion to our mistrust, so it is with the Divine Friend. In proportion as we pray to be more faithful and loving sons of God, there will be a corresponding bestowal of those gifts which a Heavenly Father can give to His children - whom He loved so much He died for them.

The essence of prayer is not the effort to make God give us something - as this is not the basis of sound human friendships - but there is a legitimate prayer of petition. God has two kinds of gifts: first, there are those which He sends us whether we pray for them or not; and the second kind are those which are given on condition that we pray. The first gifts resemble those things which a child receives in a family - food, clothing, shelter, care, and watchfulness. These gifts come to every child, whether the child asks for them or not. But there are other gifts, which are conditioned upon the desire of the child. A father may be eager to have a son go to college, but if the boy refuses to study or becomes a delinquent, the gift which the father intended for him can never be bestowed. It is not because the father has retracted his gift, but rather because the son has made the gift impossible. Of the first kind of gifts Our Blessed Lord spoke when He said: "His rain falls on the just and equally on the unjust". (Matt. 5:45.) He spoke of the second kind of gifts when He said: "Ask, and the gift will come". Prayer, then, is not just the informing of God of our needs, for He already knows them.