This weekend we recognize our graduating seniors. Please join me in congratulating them on their achievement and praying for God’s blessings upon their future endeavors! This week I include the beginning of an article entitled: ‘Prayer and Grace’ by Servant of God, Fr. John Hardon, S.J. In this article, Fr. Hardon teaches us about the essential quality of prayer and why we must pray so as to arrive in Heaven. It is a wonderful article! Here is the first part (from www.therealpresence.org):
“Prayer and Grace: The popular understanding of prayer as asking for God's help is correct. Most of the prayers in the Scriptures are petitions. Most of the prayers of the liturgy are the same. Even the acts of adoration or love are always implicit petitions. Why is this so? Why do we need to ask for God's help? The reason is the obvious one: because we need that help. However, since we are talking about God and God is not obvious, this cannot be all that obvious as it may seem.
We need God's help because we are creatures; because we have a fallen human nature and because we are constantly being besieged by the evil spirit. The first reason then that we must pray for help is because we are creatures whom God has raised to an "abovecreaturely" destiny. Sometimes I think we should more often use the expression "supercreaturely" or "supercreated" instead of the by now prosaic "supernatural." We have been destined for heaven but heaven is not natural to anyone – except God!
Consequently, although having been destined for heaven – and what could be clearer – we are not there yet and cannot get there by merely human or created means. We need what we call grace which could be described as what we need but do not of ourselves possess in order to reach the heavenly beatitude for which we were made. What we have is nature; where we are going is heaven; what we need is grace.
The Means: Then comes the embarrassing question: Do we mean to say that although God destined us for heaven that He did not give us the means for getting there? The answer is yes and no. He will give us the means but we do not have those means unless we ask for them. Asking for the means to reach heaven is another word for prayer. We therefore affirm that in God's ordinary providence, we shall not receive what we need, namely grace, unless we beg for it. This is a hard saying but it is profoundly true. Of ourselves, not only as individuals but even working together with other human beings we cannot reach heaven. I and we need divine grace. We need divine light and divine strength beyond our natural light and strength to save ourselves as social beings and barring a miracle we cannot obtain this light or this strength without prayer.
I once spoke in the beautiful Saint John the Baptist Church in Manhattan, the Provincial and American headquarters of the Fathers of the Blessed Sacrament. After the conference in a crowded church, we had a procession. I carried the Blessed Sacrament. More than once I told Our Lord, "You are heavy." We walked and we walked – it must have been a mile – through all the aisles of the church. That procession was the social prayer of that congregation praying and singing as they walked. It was nevertheless a pity when the director of the people's Eucharistic League that sponsored the affair told me, "We are not allowed to process with the Blessed Sacrament outside." Whatever we can do to restore processions in these not-so-Christian United States will be blessed by God because we need to invoke His grace not only as individuals but as societies. There are a thousand ways of doing so. Processions – the last thing I thought I would say – are one way of corporately asking for divine grace.” Through the intercession of Mary, the Mother of the Eucharist, St. Joseph, St. Michael and St. Paul, may our Good Lord grant His blessing upon all the members of our parishes, our Archdiocese and the whole Church!