Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Wednesday of the Twenty-Seventh Week in Ordinary Time

Saint Denis, bishop and martyr, and Companions (-258); Saint John Leonardi (1541-1609)

Readings of the Day
RB: Ch 7:60-61
Mass: Jon 4:1-11; Resp Ps 86; Lk 11:1-4

Hearken, O Lord, to my prayer and attend to the sound of my pleading.

In St Matthew's account of today's Gospel from St Luke, Jesus begins his teaching on prayer by telling the crowds not to "babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words" (Mt 6:7). "Do not be like them", Jesus says, "your Father knows what you need before you ask him" (Mt 6:8). St Luke has one of Jesus' disciples asking Him to teach them to "pray just as John taught his disciples" (Lk 11:1). Then Jesus teaches the disciples the Lord's Prayer. The words are few.

St Benedict, in his Chapter on humility, has something to say about keeping our words to a minimum. Today we learn from the eleventh step of humility that a monk should speak "gently and without laughter, seriously and with becoming modesty, briefly and reasonably, but without raising his voice, for as it is written: 'A wise man is known by his few words'" (RB 7:60-61). We learn from the ninth step of humility that a monk should "control his tongue and remain silent, not speaking unless asked a question" (RB 7:56). We are warned in Scripture: "'In a flood of words you will not avoid sinning' (Prov 10:19), and 'a talkative person goes about aimlessly on earth' (Ps 139[140]:12)" (RB 7:57-58).

Benedict speaks later on humility and keeping our words to a minimum in his chapter on reverence in prayer: "Whenever we want to ask some favor of a powerful person, we do it humbly and respectfully, for fear of presumption. How much more important, then, to lay our petitions before the Lord God of all things with the utmost humility and sincere devotion. We must know that God regards our purity of heart and tears of compunction, not our many words" (RB 20:1-3). Therefore our prayer should "be short and pure, unless perhaps it is prolonged under the inspiration of divine grace" (RB 20:4).

Father, hallowed be your name, your Kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread and forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us, and do not subject us to the final test.
(Lk 11:2-4)

Prefer moderation in speech and speak no foolish chatter.
(RB 4:52)

If you wish to pray then it is God whom you need. It is God who gives prayer to the one who prays. On that account call upon God saying: Hallowed be Thy Name, Thy Kingdom come!

Devote yourself often to prayer.
(RB 4:56)


© Gertrude Feick 2019

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