Baltimore Catechism 3

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 * Q. 475. What is prayer?
A. Prayer is the lifting up of our minds and hearts to God.


 * It is the high privilege of angels and men to speak with God in prayer, we lift up our minds to God by fixing the attention of our mind on Him; we lift up our hearts to Him by love.

 * > "Let us lift up our hearts with our hands to the Lord in the heavens" (Lamentations 3:41).

 * > "Watch and pray, that you may not enter into temptation" (Matthew 26:41).

 * > "And he also told them a parable-that they must always pray and not lose heart" (Luke 18:1).

 * > "Jesus said to her, 'Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. For the Father also seeks such to worship him. God is spirit, and they who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth' " (John 4:21-24).

 * > "Ask, and you shall receive, that your joy may be full" (John 16:24).

 * > "Be prudent therefore and watchful in prayers" (1 Peter 4:7).

 * > See also John 17:1-26.


 * Q. 476. Why do we pray?
A. We pray: first, to adore God, expressing to Him our love and loyalty; second, to thank Him for His favors; third, to obtain from Him the pardon of our sins and the remission of their punishment; fourth, to ask for graces and blessings for ourselves and others.


 * Prayer is a debt we owe to God; a debt of adoration, because He is our Lord and Master; a debt of thanksgiving, because He is our first and greatest Benefactor; a debt of sorrow, because we have offended Him by our sins.

 * > "Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all things give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus regarding you all" (1 Thessalonians 5:1618).


 * Q. 477. How should we pray?
A. We should pray: first, with attention; second, with a conviction of our own helplessness and our dependence upon God; third, with a great desire for the graces we beg of Him; fourth, with loving trust in His goodness; fifth, with perseverance.


 * > "The prayer of the humble and the meek hath always pleased thee" (Judith 9:16).

 * > "Again, when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites, who love to pray standing in the synagogues and at the street corners, in order that they may be seen by men. Amen I say to you, they have received their reward. But when thou prayest, go into thy room, and closing thy door, pray to thy Father in secret; and thy Father, who sees in secret, will reward thee" (Matthew 6:5-6).

 * > "Therefore I say to you, do not be anxious for your life, what you shall eat; nor yet for your body, what you shall put on. Is not the life a greater thing than the food, and the body than the clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they do not sow, or reap, or gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you of much more value than they? But which of you by being anxious about it can add to his stature a single cubit? (Matthew 6:25-27).

 * > "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it shall be opened. Or what man is there among you, who, if his son asks him for a loaf, will hand him a stone; or if he asks for a fish, will hand him a serpent? Therefore, if you, evil as you are, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!" (Matthew 7:7-11).

 * > "Hypocrites, well did prophesy of you, saying, 'This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.' " (Matthew 15:7-8).

 * > "And all things whatever you ask for in prayer, believing, you shall receive" (-22).

 * > "But he spoke this parable also to some who trusted in themselves as being just and despised others. 'Two men went up to the temple to pray, the one a Pharisee and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and began to pray thus within himself: "O God, I thank thee that I am not like the rest of men, robbers, dishonest, adulterers, or even like this publican. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I possess." But the publican, standing afar off, would not so much as lift up his eyes to heaven, but kept striking his breast, saying, "O God, be merciful to me the sinner!" I tell you, this man went back to his home justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled, and he who humbles himself shall be exalted' " (Luke 18:9-14).

 * > "And whatever you ask in my name, that I will do" (John 14:13).

 * > "If you abide in me, and if my words abide in you, ask whatever you will and it shall be done to you" (John 15:7).

 * > "Amen, amen, I say to you, if you ask the Father anything in my name, he will give it to you. Hitherto you have not asked anything in my name. Ask, and you shall receive, that your joy may be full" (John 16:23-24).

 * > "Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need" (Hebrews 4:16).

 * > "For Jesus, in the days of his earthly life, with a loud cry and tears, offered up prayers and supplications to him who was able to save him from death, and was heard because of his reverent submission" (Hebrews 5:7).

 * > "But if any of you is wanting in wisdom, let him ask it of God, who gives abundantly to all men, and does not reproach; and it will be given to him. But let him ask with faith, without hesitation. For he who hesitates is like a wave of the sea, driven and carried about by the wind" (James 1:5-6).

 * > "For the unceasing prayer of a just man is of great avail" (James 5:16).

 * > "And the confidence that we have towards him is this, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And we know that he hears us whatever we ask; we know that the requests we make of him are granted" (1 John 5:14-15).


 * Q. 478. For whom should we pray?
A. We should pray especially for ourselves, for our parents, relatives, friends, and enemies, for sinners, for the souls in purgatory, for the Pope, bishops, and priests of the Church, and for the officials of our country.


 * > "It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins" (2 Machabees 12:46).

 * > "But I say to you, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who persecute and calumniate you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven, who makes his sun to rise on the good and the evil, and sends rain on the just and the unjust" (Matthew 5:44-45).

 * > "Watch and pray, that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak" (Matthew 26:41).

 * > "Now I exhort you, brethren, through our Lord Jesus Christ, and through the charity of the Spirit, that you help me by your prayers to God for me, that I may be delivered from the unbelievers in Judea ..." (Romans 15:3031).

 * > "I urge therefore, first of all, that supplications, prayers, intercessions and thanksgivings be made for all men; for kings, and for all in high positions, that we may lead a quiet and peaceful life in all piety and worthy behavior. This is good and agreeable in the sight of God our Savior, who wishes all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:1-4).

 * > "Pray for one another, that you may be saved. For the unceasing prayer of a just man is of great avail" (James 5:16).

 * > See Scripture, question 476, Matthew 6:9-13; question 477, Matthew 7:711; Matthew 21:22; John 16:23-24; and 1 John 5:14-15.


 * Q. 479. How do we know that God always hears our prayers if we pray properly?
A. We know that God always hears our prayers if we pray properly because Our Lord has promised: "If you ask the Father anything in My name, He will give it to you."


 * God is ever ready to grant our salutary petitions, but He requires us to ask Him by prayer to do so. Prayer, therefore, is the condition God has laid down for us to obtain His graces and blessings. He always answers our prayers in the way that is best for us.

 * > "And whatever you ask in my name, that I will do, in order that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it" (John 14:13-14).

 * > "If you abide in me, and if my words abide in you, ask whatever you will and it shall be done to you" (John 15:7).

 * See Scripture, question 477, John 16:23-24.


 * Q. 480. Why do we not always obtain what we pray for?
A. We do not always obtain what we pray for, either because we have not prayed properly or because God sees that what we are asking would not be for our good.


 * We do not pray properly when any of the conditions mentioned in question 477 are lacking. God always knows what is best for us. We do not. He knows that often what seems good for us would harm us bodily or spiritually. No prayer is ever unanswered by God, though it is not always answered according to our petitions.

 * > "Then shall they call upon me, and I will not hear: they shall rise in the morning and shall not find me. Because they have hated instruction, and received not the fear of the Lord, nor consented to my counsel, but despised all my reproof" (Proverbs 1:28-30).

 * > "He that turneth away his ears from hearing the law, his prayers shall be an abomination" (Proverbs 28:9).

 * > "You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it upon your passions" (James 4:3).

 * > See Scripture, question 477, Matthew 6:5-6; Matthew 15:7-8; Matthew 21:22; Luke 18:9-14; James 1:5-6; James 5:16; also, question 479, John 15:7.


 * Q. 481. Are distractions in our prayers always displeasing to God?
A. Distractions in our prayers are not displeasing to God, unless they are willful. Many distractions arise from natural causes, such as worry, anxiety, or bodily affliction. Other distractions are temptations of the devil. The effort made to overcome distractions makes our prayers even more pleasing to God.


 * See Scripture, question 477, Matthew 15:7-8; Hebrews 5:7.


 * Q. 482. How many kinds of prayer are there?
A. There are two kinds of prayer: mental prayer and vocal prayer.


 * Q. 483. What is mental prayer?
A. Mental prayer is that prayer by which we unite our hearts with God while thinking of His holy truths.


 * > "Let thy thoughts be upon the precepts of God, and meditate continually on his commandments: and he will give thee a heart; and the desire of wisdom shall be given to thee" (Ecclesiasticus 6:37).

 * > "For the rest, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever honorable, whatever just, whatever holy, whatever lovable, whatever of good repute, if there be any virtue, if anything worthy of praise, think upon these things" (Philippians 4:8).

 * See for an example of mental prayer.


 * Q. 484. What is vocal prayer?
A. Vocal prayer is that prayer which comes from the mind and heart and is spoken by the lips.


 * Vocal prayer can also be taken to mean all bodily prayer, such as genuflections, the bowing of the head, and the folding of hands. By vocal prayer man recognizes God's sovereignty over the whole man, body and soul.

 * The use of the voice or the prayerful attitude of the body also excites greater fervor of soul. For example, those who have difficulty in merely meditating on the Passion often find it easy to make the Stations of the Cross, or to say the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary. For many, a simple genuflection is the most expressive of their acts of faith in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

 * Vocal prayer also makes prayer in common possible. Prayer in common is that of many praying as one, such as the prayer of a family or of a congregation saying the Rosary together.

 * > "With my voice I called upon the Lord, and he hearkened to me from his holy mountain" (Psalm 3:5).

 * > "O Lord, thou wilt open my lips, and my mouth shall declare thy praise" (Psalms 50:17).

 * > "For where two or three are gathered together for my sake, there am I in the midst of them" (Matthew 18:20).

 * > "At the name of Jesus every knee should bend of those in heaven, on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father" (Philippians 2:10-11).


 * Q. 485. May we use our own words in praying to God?
A. We may use our own words in praying to God, and it is well to do so often.


 * Q. 486. What are the prayers that every Catholic should know by heart?
A. The prayers that every Catholic should know by heart are: the Our Father, the Hail Mary, the Apostles' Creed, the Confiteor, the Glory be to the Father, and the acts of faith, hope, charity, and contrition.


 * > "Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin's name was Mary. And when the angel had come to her, he said, 'Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women.' When she had heard him she was troubled at his word, and kept pondering what manner of greeting this might be" (Luke 1:26-29).

 * > "Now in those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town of Juda. And she entered the house of Zachary and saluted Elizabeth. And it came to pass, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary that the babe in her womb leapt. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and cried out with a loud voice, saying, 'Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb! And how have I deserved that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, the moment that the sound of thy greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leapt for joy. And blessed is she who has believed, because the things promised her by the Lord shall be accomplished' " (Luke 1:39-45).

 * See Scripture, question 476, Matthew 6:9-13.


 * Q. 487. How do we usually begin and end our prayers?
A. We usually begin and end our prayers with the sign of the cross.


 * > "And Jesus drew near and spoke to them saying, 'All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit' " (Matthew 28:18-19).


 * Q. 488. Why do we make the sign of the cross?
A. We make the sign of the cross to express two important mysteries of the Christian religion, the Blessed Trinity and the Redemption.


 * > "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us" (John 1:14).

 * > "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that those who believe in him may not perish, but may have life everlasting. For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that those who believe in him may not perish, but may have life everlasting" (John 3:14-16).

 * > "And bearing the cross for himself, he went forth to the place called the Skull, in Hebrew, Golgotha, where they crucified him" (John 19:17-18).

 * > "Who himself bore our sins in his body upon the tree, that we, having died to sin, might live to justice; and by his stripes you were healed" (1 Peter 2:24).

 * See Scripture, Lesson 3; also question 487, Matthew 28:18-19).


 * Q. 489. How are these mysteries expressed by the sign of the cross?
A. When we say "In the name," we express the truth that there is only one God; when we say "of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost," we express the truth that there are three distinct Persons in God; and when we make the form of the cross on ourselves, we express the truth that the Son of God, made man, redeemed us by His death on the cross.




 * Our reason tells us that, as creatures, we are obliged to pray to God, in order to adore Him, to thank Him, to ask Him for what we need, and to seek His pardon for our sins. Faith teaches us the same truth. The Bible abounds with references to man's obligation to pray. And in order to give us an example, Our Divine Redeemer prayed while He was on earth. Sometimes He spent even entire nights in prayer. Two of the most striking incidents of His passion were acts of prayer-His prayer in the Garden asking that, if possible, the cup of suffering might pass away, followed immediately by His sublime act of resignation to His Father's will, and His prayer on the cross, asking pardon for those who were putting Him to death.

 * Although prayer is intended not only to ask God for favors but also to praise and to thank Him and to make reparation for sin, we often use the word in the restricted sense of asking benefits, whether spiritual or temporal. This is the prayer of petition. To this prayer Christ has attached unfailing efficacy, provided it is offered with the necessary qualities, for He said: "Amen, amen, I say to you if you ask the Father anything in my name, He will give it to you" (John, 16:23). Of course, for the fulfillment of this promise we must pray humbly and perseveringly, and confidingly. Sometimes God does not grant us a favor the first time we ask; He wishes us to continue to implore His mercy. Moreover, we cannot expect Him to grant us a temporal favor, such as health and riches, if he foresees that it would be harmful to our soul, any more than we could expect a mother to give her child a knife, for which he is crying, since she knows he would injure himself. Finally, we must remember that Our Lord spoke of prayer offered for ourselves. We can and should pray for others, and we can often obtain for them precious favors; but infallible efficacy is attached to prayer only when a person prays for himself.

 * Through prayer we can procure for ourselves immeasurable spiritual blessings-the power to overcome temptations, no matter how violent, the grace to increase in love for God, and above all, perseverance in the state of grace and eternal salvation. St. Alphonsus Liguori, who is called the Doctor of Prayer because he wrote so much about it and practiced it so ardently, did not hesitate to say: "He who prays will be saved, he who does not pray will be lost."

 * Naturally we pray when we go to Mass or receive the sacraments or perform some other religious duty. But we should not limit our prayers to these occasions. In the morning we should pray for God's guidance during the day; at night we should pray for forgiveness of any faults or sins we may have committed in the course of the day and for protection of soul and body during the night. Strictly speaking, it is not a sin to omit morning and night prayers, provided a person prays at some other time; but it is a sin to neglect prayer entirely. The most appropriate place for prayer is the church, where Our Lord is present in the Blessed Sacrament, but we can pray in any place. In time of temptation our first thought should be to pray for divine assistance; above all, frequently in the course of the day we should raise our mind and heart to God in brief but fervent aspirations. Any Catholic who fills his life with prayer in this manner will be living up to the injunction of Our Lord, who said that we must always pray and not lose heart (Luke, 18:1).

 * Mental prayer, which is also called meditation, constitutes one of the most effective means toward sanctification. Hence, the rules of all religious orders call for frequent periods of meditation-sometimes as much as two hours every day. It can be practiced by the members of the laity also, and from it they can derive great spiritual profit. Many good Catholic lay-persons devote fifteen minutes or a half-hour to meditation daily, choosing particularly as the subject of their contemplation and prayer the life and the teachings of Our Blessed Lord. Meditation is especially beneficial in the morning, when we can look forward to the difficulties of the day in a spirit of faith and humbly ask God for light and grace to do His will in all things.

 * Vocal prayers are also recommended by the Church, and many of them, such as the rosary and the litanies, are richly indulgenced. However, it would be a mistake to imagine that the more vocal prayers a person recites, the holier he is. It is better to say a few vocal prayers slowly and attentively than to recite a large number hurriedly and with little attention.

 * Spiritual reading is one of the most practical helps toward praying as we should. By this we mean the reading of books about Our Lord, the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Saints, the practice of virtue, etc. In every Catholic home there should be devotional books on hand for the members of the family; above all, there should be a Bible, and the members of the family, old and young, should be accustomed to read it regularly. It is a beautiful custom when all the members of a family assemble at a set time daily-for example, after the evening meal-to hear a portion of the Bible read by the father or the mother or one of the children. Pope Leo XIII granted an indulgence of 300 days to all Catholics who spend at least fifteen minutes in reading Holy Scripture with the reverence due to the word of God and after the manner of spiritual reading.

 * The sign of the cross, with which we Catholics begin and end our prayers, is not merely our profession of faith in the Holy Trinity and the Redemption, but is also our petition for the blessing of the three divine Persons on our lives and actions. Hence, we should always make the sign of the cross reverently. It is disedifying to see this holy sign made so carelessly and so rapidly that one can hardly recognize what it is intended to be. The Church grants an indulgence of 100 days to the faithful as often as they make the sign of the cross with the prescribed words, and 300 days whenever they make it with holy water.

 * There is a special value attached to prayer recited in common by several persons - for example, a family, a sodality, a congregation - because Our Lord promised His special blessing on prayer of this kind when He said: "Where two or three are gathered together for my sake, there am I in the midst of them" (Matthew, 18:20).




 * Resolve to be most faithful to your morning and night prayers, and to acquire the habit of frequently saying little prayers in the course of the day, particularly at the beginning of every action.

 * Complete Exercises For Lesson 37





 * (Select the word or phrase in the parentheses which most exactly and most completely fills out the sentence.)


 * We lift our minds to God by giving Him (love ... attention ... praise.)

 * A prayer endowed with the proper qualities (always obtains what we ask ... may be entirely rejected by God ... is always answered though not necessarily according to our petition).

 * On the cross Our Lord prayed (that His enemies might be pardoned ... that the chalice might pass from Him ... that His pains might be lessened).

 * Distractions are not displeasing to God (when they are not willful. ...When they arise from bodily affliction ... when they are temptations of the devil).

 * Prayer has (two ... four ... six) ends.

 * The promise of infallible efficacy for prayer was made by (God the Father ... Jesus Christ ... the Blessed Virgin).

 * In making the sign of the cross we express two truths - the Holy Trinity and (the Redemption ... the Incarnation ... the Resurrection).

 * When we make mental prayer we are said to (cogitate ... mediate ... meditate).

 * St. Paul tells us that every knee should bend at the name of (the Holy Ghost ... Jesus Christ ... the Blessed Virgin).

 * The book of the Bible that tells us it is a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead is (... the First Book of Machabees



 * (Answer the questions orally or write them as your teacher may direct):


 * Madeline finds a prayer-book whose title in golden letters is "Key of Heaven." Is that an appropriate title for a prayer-book? Why?

 * From memory, write the words of Our Lord's promise concerning prayer.

 * Zoe finds it hard to pay attention to her prayers at Holy Mass. Advise her what to do during the time of the Holy Sacrifice that will fasten her attention to what is going on at the holy altar of God.

 * Collette's oldest sister is a nun in the convent. Collette says her sister makes meditation twice every day. What is meditation?

 * Helen is trying to persuade the members of her family to recite the rosary in common every evening. What arguments can you suggest that will help her to obtain her request?

 * Rocco bets Dunstan that he knows more ejaculatory prayers by heart than Dunstan. Dunstan accepts the wager. Fiorello, the judge who is to decide the winner, suggests that they both write out from memory the ejaculations they know. Each writes out his list and hands it to Fiorello. Neither wins, because each of them wrote out nine ejaculations. Can you write ten? Try it!

 * George is riding in a bus. His mother is very sick. George is inspired to pray for her as he rides along to his destination. But he stops after the first Hail Mary, as he is ashamed of having people see him move his lips in prayer. He noticed a man looking at him, and he felt embarrassed. Could George have prayed without moving his lips? Why?

 * Barbara likes to clip or copy attractive prayers out of Catholic magazines and the diocesan paper. These she puts in her prayer-book. Once in a while she composes a prayer of her own, and uses it after her Communions during the act of thanksgiving. Are her practices commendable? Why?

 * Dympna says she finds it hardest to say her meal prayers every day. Eulalia says the morning prayers are the hardest for her to say. Lucy says that for her the hardest of all her daily prayers are the night prayers. Which do you find the hardest to say? Why?

 * Charlotte spends many precious minutes every morning beautifying herself before she leaves the house. Every week she misses her morning prayers about five times. Write a paragraph of four or five sentences urging Charlotte to beautify her soul also, even if it be necessary to clip off a minute or two from the making-up process.

 * Why is the church the most appropriate place in which to pray?

 * What makes our prayers effective?

 * Explain what is meant by "humble-confident-persevering prayer."

 * What great Neapolitan saint of the 18th century is called the Doctor of Prayer? What is his well-known saying about the necessity of prayer for the salvation of our souls?


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