Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Prayer of Intercession


Mother of God Interceding

When I was in seminary (my goodness ~ 40 years ago!) a priest told me that prayer of intercession was the lowest form of prayer. I just accepted it because I was a seminarian and seminarians don't know otherwise about anything. Now I'm a senior priest and I can say not only is the priest's claim false, but that intercession is a way to pray always, as Saint Paul enjoins:
And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints. (Ephesians 6:17,18)

And then we may have heard these verses recently at Mass from another of Saint Paul's letters:
Brothers and sisters: from the day we heard about you, we do not cease praying for you and asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of God's will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding... (Colossians 1:9,10)

At the end of the Apostolic Exhortation, The Joy of the Gospel, paragraphs 281-283, Pope Francis speaks beautifully about intercession. This is so worth reading. Be encouraged!
281. One form of prayer moves us particularly to take up the task of evangelization and to seek the good of others; it is the prayer of intercession. Let us peer for a moment into the heart of St. Paul, to see what his prayer was like. It was full of people: "I constantly pray with you in every one of my prayers for all of you...because I hold you in my heart:" (Phil. 1:4,). Here we see that intercessory prayer does not divert us from true contemplation, since authentic contemplation always has a place for others.

282. This attitude becomes a prayer of gratitude to God for others. "First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you" (Romans 1:8). It is constant thankfulness: "I give thanks to God always for you  because of the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus: (1 Cor 1:4); "I thank my God in all remembrance of you: (Phil 1:3). Far from being suspicious, negative and despairing, it is a spiritual gaze born of deep faith which acknowledges what God is doing in the lives of others. At the same time, it is the gratitude which flows from a heart attentive to others. When evangelizers rise from prayer, their hearts are more open; freed of self-absorption, they are desirous of doing good and sharing their lives with others.

283. The great men and women of God were great intercessors. Intercession is like "a leaven in the heart of the Trinity." It is a way of penetrating the Father's heart and discovering new dimensions which can shed light on concrete situations and change them. We can say that God's heart is touched by our intercession, yet in reality God is always there first. What our intercession achieves is that his power, his love and his faithfulness are shown ever more clearly in the midst of the people.

I would add: let your prayer of intercession far exceed your own immediate and familial concerns. Let your prayer-net be cast far and wide as they say, encircling the planet in all of its tearful troubles. If you are awakened at night, perhaps it is the Spirit's prompting you to intercede with the monks and nuns who pray in the darkness about the world's darkness, in the time when the most terrible things happen. 

Pray about the situations of which others say, "Oh I don't even want to know that," or "Oh I have to look away, that makes me sad." Looking the other way, shielding my eyes and sensibilities ~ these are luxuries we don't have.





You know this little boy is three-year-old Aylan Kurdi? He and his mother and five-year-old brother drowned when the boat they were in, fleeing the ISIS-Kurdish fighting in Syria, capsized in the Mediterranean Sea. His body washed up on the beach of a fashionable resort in Bodrum, Turkey. 

Europe is presently overwhelmed with refugees fleeing Libya and Syria where civil war, corruption, gangs and terrorists have brought these countries to dissolution. It is the most dire refugee crisis since the Second World War...

That the net of our heart-awake-intercessions would encircle the world.

11 comments:

  1. I would never have thought that intercession was the lowest form of prayer. They can be my own words and the most meaningful to me.

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  2. Your deep sense of compassion for all humanity is an inspiration with your Intercessions every week serving as a guide for my daily prayers.

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  3. We all learn the importance of things along the way. And what we learn we pass on to others, as you do here. Thank you Father Morris for leading the way. I always feel so motivated to do something real for people after I read your posts. Your ministry must reach far and wide and I am glad to be included in your flock.

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  4. I offer a prayer for Aylan and all those who tragically perished. I will not turn my head, only bow down in sorrow.

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  5. I can't stop looking at the picture of the little boy. He lays there like a discarded rag doll face down in the water. How my heart aches at the sight! I hope that our prayers embrace those that need it and offer some comfort. May that our intercessions do something to help these people.

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  6. Prayer; the lifting of our minds and hearts to God. I often see people lifting their hands in prayer, as in this Icon. The priest also during mass. Do you think, this is a more meaningful way to pray?
    This was a very enlightening post. Thank you, Father

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    1. Well I think it's important to somehow integrate even our bodies into our prayer. Try it, see if it helps to deepen your sense of interceding.

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  7. The Pope has asked parishes to take in refugees which arrive by the thousands each day. This will help some of those who escaped, but how long can this go on? It is not only Europe, but also countries in the Middle East, such as Lebanon, that are overrun with refugees. And these Middle Eastern Countries are not willing to offer aid to their own Muslim brothers and sisters who are forced to set up makeshift camps and survive on begging for change. I cannot see how prayer is going to help this desperate situation.

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    1. I don't know how long this can go on either. I follow the news closely and feel the desperation as well. During the Second World War and to this day, Pope Pius XII has been criticized because he "didn't do enough." Now this pope is asking that we do what we can. I not sure I understand either how prayer can help this situation. But I will at least continue my prayer surrounding these horrific events as a way of keeping my heart awake to it all. That matters in a world where many people simply don't care. I'm saddened that the leaders of Islam are so silent about this. I expect many are afraid. And during the Second World War lots of Christians were afraid and it made them silent. It wouldn't be the first time religious people were silent when they should have been heard. Indeed, there is a story about a Christian town that was within earshot of a large and infamous concentration camp. They heard the noise of violence coming from it. When asked after the war what did they do each Sunday, they answered, "We sang louder." That won't do.

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  8. This blog is like a prayer chain. We are all brothers and sisters regardless of our faith beliefs. God hears us so I have to hope that if we are all praying together our thoughts will be amplified and at the very least, those in despair will gain strength to persevere. Only when man learns to open his heart will the atrocities of war cease. And that I cannot see happening in the life that I have left to live.

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    1. To persevere. To hang in there. To be the new Christ-person Baptism called me to be: That I would live my own unique life as truthfully, as beautifully, and as generously as Christ lived his. That's all I can do.

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