Posted by: Thomas Richard | December 18, 2018

The Interior Liturgy of the Our Father

I) Introduction

The painful, ugly corruption in the Catholic Church that is erupting first here then there, in dioceses all around the world it seems, is a horror unthinkable to faithful Catholics. This Church is of God! His Spirit is the life of this Church! How has such blasphemous sin crept in, and found hiding places – and taken root – in parishes, in bishops’ residences, in chanceries and dioceses! How has the impossible and unbelievable come in so deep and spread so far and reached so high in this Church?

And the question pierces me, and challenges me, what can we laity do? We cannot do nothing but wait for the institution – the corporation – whatever to call it, to heal and reform itself! Who can be trusted or believed? Who is not part of the problem? Who is not a mere hired man, careerist, clericalist, robber and abuser or enabler by self-blinded design who is a counterfeit in a charade, passing himself off for what he is not – a deacon, or priest, or bishop of the Church of the People of God? Who is really, truly, a shepherd of God’s sheep? Who can be believed and trusted, and who cannot?

I don’t know how we can work to correct the mess at the parish or diocesan level – laity can’t institute parish- or diocesan-wide reforms in catechesis, in spiritual formation, in liturgies or in worship: only clergy can do that and many, it seems, are content with business-as-usual, with themselves in charge, thank you anyway.

We, the laity, can work to correct the mess in our own lives, in our own minds and hearts; we can seek out and root out the corruption and love of sin in ourselves. We can listen to and hear and pray for the grace to believe the holy and saving Gospel. We can meet in homes, when the parish doors are shut to us, we can gather for ourselves materials that edify, when the parish programs are pablum and shallow motivational speakers, we can learn to pray from the masters of prayer the saints, when the canned programs bought by the office are insults to the wisdom of the saints, more mere pandering of opinions, empty of substance and power.

We the laity can ask and seek and knock where the Spirit is, and we can see and hear and receive, and grow in, His holy Truth.

II) The Interior Liturgy of the Our Father

In the last blog essay, I tried to introduce again my first book, The Ordinary Path to Holiness. That book was written to help ordinary Catholics learn of, and understand, the path that a seeking, hungry soul travels, on the path to God, to holiness and peace in Him. In this blog essay, I will introduce again my second book – which follows the first in several ways – The Interior Liturgy of the Our Father. This book, like the first, is about prayer and the life of prayer. May the beautiful and powerful wisdom of the saints of the Church – the masters of prayer – find root in some: in you the reader. Thereby, our holy Church will be healed and reformed, one precious soul at a time. And that would be a beautiful work among us for our Lord.

St. Teresa of Avila is a very important, significant spiritual teacher for Catholics seeking a deeper interior life – a life of prayer-communion with God. The Father blessed her with a full experience of prayer, a full experience of the entire journey of prayer from the very beginnings of prayer, to the highest summit of prayer possible on this earth, just short of the beatific vision in heaven.

Jesus Christ our Lord – God Himself, God Incarnate – taught us to pray, when He gave us the prayer we call “the Our Father.” He said, pray then like this: “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name, ….”

Should it surprise us, then, that the journey of prayer discovered and experienced by St. Teresa of Avila “lines up” in a very meaningful, beautiful and helpful way, with the journey of prayer that Jesus gave us in His gift of the prayer, “the Our Father”?

The Interior Castle of St. Teresa describes her life-experience of prayer, and passes on for us, her wisdom – thank you, St. Teresa! The prayer, “the Our Father” – brief and simple as it is – is the gift of God to us to not only help us pray, but to show us the journey of prayer. The Our Father shows us the sequence of steps or stages that we walk, when we walk the journey of prayer. Thank you, Lord Jesus!

The parallels linking Teresa’s “Interior Castle” and the petitions of the Our Father are first described in Ch. 5 of the book, The Ordinary Path to Holiness. The realities of that chapter continued to deepen and unfold in me, until they came together into a statement all their own: The Interior Liturgy of the Our Father. Those who have read The Ordinary Path will be led deeper into this traditional Catholic path to holiness in the divinely-given prayer, the Our Father. I will briefly describe the book, chapter by chapter – perhaps it will interest and invite you to “come and see”.

III) Highlights of the Chapters of The Interior Liturgy of the Our Father

Chapter 1. Introduction to The Interior Liturgy
Introduction, and St. Thomas Aquinas’ remarkable insight into the petitions of the Our Father:
“Now in the Lord’s Prayer not only do we ask for all that we may rightly desire, but also in the order wherein we ought to desire them, so that this prayer not only teaches us to ask, but also directs all our affections.”

This observation leads us to understand the journey of prayer itself: how we are led in prayer (in this prayer) to ever-closer communion with our Father, from the very beginnings of prayer, to the highest heights of union with Him and in Him.

Chapter 2. Listening to the Petitions:
Here, we listen carefully to the prayer, petition by petition.

Chapter 3. Sacramental Graces in the Interior Liturgy
Here, we see the significance of the word “liturgy” in the prayer, as each petition points us to a corresponding sacrament in the Church.

Chapter 4. The Our Father and Teresa’s Interior Castle.
Here, the parallel is seen, between the Interior Castle of St. Teresa (and the journey of prayer that it reveals), and The Interior Liturgy of the Our Father (and the journey of prayer that it reveals). We find one journey, described in the prayer, and experienced by the saint.

Chapter 5. The Interior Liturgy and the Holy Mass
In this chapter we find the correspondence between the prayer and its three major parts or movements, and our celebration of Holy Mass and its three major parts or movements. Mary in Christian worship is here discussed, Mary of whom the Catechism teaches:
CCC 971 “All generations will call me blessed”: “The Church’s devotion to the Blessed Virgin is intrinsic to Christian worship.”<Lk 1:48; Pope Paul VI, Marialis cultus 56>

Chapter 6. Conversion: The First Movement of the Mass, and of the Interior Liturgy. The petitions of the Our Father that are included in this first movement, and the grades of prayer associated with them.

Chapter 7. Consecration: The Second Movement of the Mass, and of the Interior Liturgy. The petitions of the Our Father that are included in this movement, and the grades of prayer associated with them. Mary in this work of the liturgy.

Chapter 8. Communion: The Third Movement of the Mass, and of the Interior Liturgy. The petitions of the Our Father that are included in this movement, and the grades of prayer associated with them. Mary and Peter together.

Chapter 9. Conclusion and Summary
The natural life of mankind, the supernatural, spiritual life of mankind, the pattern of Christ making His disciples. God’s work in us in three movements of Holy Liturgy.

The Interior Liturgy is available on amazon.com in both ebook for the Kindle, and in paperback, both in the new 3rd Edition. I hope to make the ebook available for the Nook, on Barnes & Noble, soon…


Responses

  1. Dear Thomas,

    Thanks so much for this encouraging blog at this time! “For God so loved the world, He gave His Only Son…” (Jn 3:16). The Catholic Laity and Clergy truly need to listen to God’s Truth in the midst of this and every crisis we may face.

    Your first book helped many of us to “see” by faith The Ordinary Path to holiness, in a clearer way, and your second book on the Interior Liturgy of the Our Father shows how important the Prayer Jesus taught us, truly is!

    Having read both books more than once, I still want to re-read the Interior Liturgy of the Our Father again! Thanks for writing your books by God’s Grace, and for helping others to know, love and serve Him, by His Grace also.

  2. Thanks Thomas for this encouraging blog. It came when I was so down about reading more on the ugliness within God’s Church. I thank God for His Church and for your willingness to share the wisdom He has blessed you with. To God be the glory!!

  3. Thank you Thomas for this thought provoking subject and guidance on searching our own souls for signs of being impacted and tainted by the ongoing greed and contempt shown by those who are tasked with guiding us in our faith. It is a real test of our inner faith and as I grow older I find my peace with God truly comes from within. Our world is a very scary place these days and it has found deep routes in our Church world as well. I continue to pray with all my heart and soul and feel my strength growing as God is guiding me completely. I thank the Lord for you and Deborah and all you offer to us. We are blessed to have you both.


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