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Sermons and Conferences
1993 3/03 Spiritual Exercises Days 15-19 S1
by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.
MP3 Disc 1 Received from Breslin
These Sermons were taped by Daniel Peper who
Day 15 of the Spiritual Exercises: The Sermon on the Mount
Day 16: The Lord's Prayer (Part 2)
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and, of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
Seat of Wisdom.
Pray for us.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
First: regarding our schedule, we are to meet next Monday; today is Wednesday. And I begin the seminar with the Missionaries of Charity on Monday and it goes on for ten days. Normally it goes on through the day closing with the Holy Hour in the evening. So lets plan, if you dont mind, for starting at seven-thirty on Monday. If thats O.K.? Next Monday, I should be finished by seven oclock. Well, its about a half an hours drive. I should finish by seven there and get to the university by seven-thirty. So at least for Monday, lets plan for seven-thirty and then, what we may do if you wish, since its only two days, we can plan on seven-thirty to eight-thirty on Monday. Is that O.K.? And Ill find out what the I guess we might have to meet on Wednesday, but at least that Monday we start at seven-thirty and well finish at eight-thirty. But always, as we are doing, I will meet as many as I can immediately after the present conference. And I have a fellow one call from Washington at nine, which should be finished by nine fifteen. I have a call from Florida at nine forty-five, which should finish, even before ten. O.K.? So well go until eight-thirty tonight and then conferences; private, until nine; and then nine to nine fifteen, one phone call; nine-fifteen until nine forty-five, then if necessary I can be of service, either after ten or whatever.
Given the number of days between today and Monday; I believe its five days. That means today that we begin what we call points. Thats the technical term, points, for the meditations for the next five days. So its fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, eighteen and nineteen days. Five times three is fifteen, and we have something less than an hour and a half, so we cannot spend too much time. I should warn myself, not to try to cover too much on any one meditation.
Day 15 of the Spiritual Exercises: The Sermon on the Mount
The Lords Prayer (Part One)
Remember this is the Sermon on the Mount, and we now go from the Beatitudes to the Lords Prayer.
What was the gospel for yesterdays Mass? The Lords Prayer.
First of all then, the Lords Prayer: Part One, and then the next day the Lords Prayer: Part Two. You know we are spending two days, which means six meditations, on the Lords Prayer. The Baltimore Catechism, as I think I told you, the whole fourth part is on the Lords Prayer; as was the Roman Catechism published at the Council of Trent. Four parts, here is your catechetical course is in four parts. Having been working on the Catechism, knowing what was coming, its common sense to plan ahead of time so you wont feel that youre out of touch with reality.
So the Lords Prayer is by all odds the single most important prayer that anyone, and not just Christians or Catholics.
St. Augustine said, speaking of those already in his day who were separated from the Catholic Church, he said, They will cease to be our brothers when they cease to recite the Lords Prayer. In other words, the one common denominator among all believing Christians, no matter how much, how liberal they believe, is still the Our Father.
Meditation 43: Our Father
Meditation 43: As we begin the Our Father, we try to realize to whom we are speaking, even though the words are Our Father, we are speaking to all three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Because remember, the word Father has two very different meanings in our Faith. When the second person of the Holy Trinity speaks, as Christ never he never spoke to his Father as Our Father never; He told us when you pray, you say Our Father. Christ always said: My Father, My Father.
Now the difference is, of course, the most fundamental in our Faith; we believe that God is not a solitary being. He is indeed only one Being, but he is not a being in solitude. God is a community; God is a plurality. There are three Persons, which means there are three individuals in God. How can that be? Well, thats part of the mystery. And we then, when remember in the Book of Genesis the author describes the work of Creation and quotes God creating the human race; this is God, already, in Genesis saying: Let us, plural, make man to our image.
Now there are two meanings to that most fundamental truth of our Faith; that we are created. The first meaning, when God said, Let us make man to our image and likeness, that unlike the whole rest of creation that God made, we, pardon me, are unlike the rest of visible creation; the sun, moon, and stars, the animals, vegetation. We, unlike them; we, like God, have a mind and a will. So, the first meaning of image and likeness is that we have, like God himself, a mind that can think and a will that can choose.
So on that fundamental level, God is our Father. Remember the essence of fatherhood; the essence of fatherhood is communicating ones nature. That is why the feminist movement is the most devastating heresy in the history of Christianity. Do you hear me? And it is destructive. People, for example, writing to me letter after letter, telephone calls; women in Church out loud instead of saying Our Father they will, at the top of the voice, shout, Our Father and mother. Most of them Im sure dont know what theyre talking about. Some do.
So God, therefore, is our Father, first of all, by sharing with us something of his own divine nature and being able, like him, to think and to choose and love.
But then secondly, the plural already in Genesis, which comes as a surprise, let us make man to our image and likeness. If it is one thing that Judaism believed in it is that God is one being; monotheistic, no plurality of Gods. Yet God says, Let us make man according to our image. Why the plural? Theyre one in nature; God is three in persons.
What is the second sense in which God is our Father? He is our Father, first, because he shared with us, or as we share with him, our rational nature. He also shared with us his social nature; God is a society. Now clearly you have to spend hours really explaining what that means. In any case, all this locked up in the word Father when we address God as Our Father.
Meditation 44:Hallowed Be Thy Name
Forty four. Now notice the first meditation is on the opening salutation. But then there are seven petitions to the Lords Prayer. So that the opening salutation, call it act of adoration. Then the first petition: Hallowed be Thy name. We all know what it means, but it is well to remind ourselves that the word hallowed means, to make holy. The latin: Pater Noster. I dont think I should spend more time on weve got so many to go.
Who Art in Heaven: This heaven where God dwells, for me the most clear definition of heaven: heaven is where the experience of Gods presence is enjoyed. Heaven is where the experience of Gods presence is enjoyed. Thus defined as the Fathers of the Church: Thus defined the God to whom we are speaking, who art in heaven, is not only in heaven somewhere away from us. No, this God is within us. And of course, we are to experience the happiness of Gods presence already on earth as an anticipation of the perfect happiness in the life to come.
Now back to the second meditation, Hallowed be thy name.
First of all, God is already all holy. Im sure Ive said this more than once, but as Ive said so many times my definition of a good teacher is one who can repeat without boring.
What is Gods holiness; what is a synonym for the holiness of God? The perfect theological synonym for the holiness of God is the otherness of God. God is the totally other. There not only is no one like him, there cannot be anyone like him. Only he is a being who must exist. God cannot not exist. God must exist. God is the being who cannot not be. There cannot, to coin a phrase, have nothing. There must be being. The only being who must be, is God. All other beings need not be. Even though theologically we call them contingent. There are contingent. Meaning what? A perfect synonym for contingent is unnecessary. We dont have to be. How do we know that we dont have to be? Because time was when we werent. And what wasnt, clearly need not exist. What did not exist, need not exist. Thats simple logic.
When then we pray, Hallowed be thy name, we dont mean, we cannot mean, that God within the Trinity is somewhat to be sanctified and made more holy. Thats blasphemy. It can only mean that among those creatures who have a free will, they can either recognize the holiness of God, meaning the otherness of God, and, watch this, and therefore their own total dependence on God. These three words are perfect theological synonyms: contingent beings, dependent beings, unnecessary beings; thats us. We are contingent, we are unnecessary, and we are totally, utterly dependent, not only for our continued existence of our being even for having come into existence. Talk about dependence! And this is what we pray for in the first petition.
That human beings are living in the one age in history in which theres never been anything like it on the scale of which there is now when monotheism is widespread. One god; who is the one god? The self.
I have lectures on what Im calling the new paganism. The old paganism was plurality of Gods. The new paganism is monotheism; thats theres one god. Whos that one god? Me! Thats not a figure of speech.
What then are we praying for? That God may be recognized for Who He is, and as a consequence that human beings might recognize with their minds and submit with their wills to their complete dependence on the one true God.
Meditation 45: Thy Kingdom Come
Third meditation: Thy kingdom come. In the Gospels, Christ used the word ekklesia, which is the Greek word for church, only twice. He used the word basileia, which means kingdom, constantly. Passage after passage, parable after parable, our Lord speaks of the kingdom. The kingdom is like, remember, a marriage feast, the kingdom is like this, the kingdom is like that. Christ is always talking about the kingdom. What does he mean by the kingdom? He means three things: The kingdom is the Church, and the Church therefore in Christs revealed word is the Church Militant on earth, the Church in Purgatory suffering, and the Church Triumphant in Heaven; otherwise, the militant kingdom, the suffering kingdom, and the triumphant Kingdom.
This by the way of St. Ignatius, from start to finish, thats why in Gods Providence, of all the persons that God would have chosen to be the principle reformer for the demoralized, de-Christianized, Catholic Church of the sixteenth century it was, ceasilation (?), totally lost to the Catholic Church, completely: England, Wales, Scotland, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark.
And who remembers the year that St. Thomas More and John Fischer were martyred?
Fifteen thirty-five. You ought to know some of these dates. Eighteen years after Luther broke with the Church, Henry VIII having broken with Rome, he wanted to discard his wife and ever since had been persecuting the Catholic Church.
If you want to know what the Catholic Church teaches; if you want to understand Catholic history you cannot, comma, cannot, comma, you cannot depend on an English writer. Cannot. There are two histories of the Catholic Church: the British and all the others. And I dont have Anglophobia; I just know my history, thats all.
Well, kingdom, therefore, means that for us it is the militant kingdom. In other words, when St. Ignatius talks about extending the kingdom he was not drawing on his fertile imagination, he was drawing on the Gospels; that is Christs principle term for the Church. And the Church on earth is the Church Militant. And whether we like it or not, whether people even believe it or not, we are all conscripted. And, we better know the enemy.
So when we pray, Thy Kingdom Come, we are praying for the extension, especially of the kingdom on earth, which is the militant kingdom of Christ, which is the Church.
Sixteenth Day:The Lords Prayer (Part Two)
Meditation 46:Thy Will Be Done on Earth as It is in Heaven
The sixteenth day: part two of the Lords Prayer: Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Theres only one reason, one fundamental reason, why we have a free will, and that is to do the will of God; to use our wills to do his will. And that is why the most important reason we have a mind. Why do we have a will? To do Gods will. Why do we have a mind? To know Gods will. Its that simple, as by now we all know, that hard. The main reason we have a mind is to know the will of God. The main reason we have a will is to do that will of God.
Why does Christ tell us to pray that Gods will might be done on earth as it is in heaven? Because, Gods will in heaven is done by everybody. Gods will in heaven is done enjoyably. Gods will in heaven is done un-enviously.
We are all, all, all constantly tempted to envy, constantly, constantly. Which as you know is the sadness we are tempted to feel where someone has what we lack or someone has succeeded where we have failed. The principle reason for the breakdown of family life, the main reason for divorces over the centuries, is envy.
I think Ive told you the longest letter from the early Church written by the Pope, Pope Clement I, remember, is his letter to the Corinthians dated about 90. A.D.; is all about envy. Get a copy, get a copy of St. Clements First Letter to the Corinthians; first century; written before the Gospel of St. John was written. Its not the Bible, but a document; the first two documents of a pope are the two letters of Peter, and of the letter in the first century of a pope is Clement. And the whole letter, its a long letter, it needs translation with footnotes, its a little book; all about envy.
And as I remembered, thats what I talked about in Moscow and again in Warsaw. And the closer we live with people the more tempted we are to envy these people.
So what we are praying for is that the will of God be done on earth as it is in heaven. It would be blasphemy to say that the will be done in heaven as it is on earth. In heaven everybody does Gods will does it perfectly. Question. Does every one in heaven do Gods will equally? No. Some do it, to coin a word, more generously than others. Everybody is generous, but remember, in heaven the capacity of our happiness will differ. The capacity for happiness in heaven will differ depending on how much capacity we have merited on earth. The more faithfully we have done Gods will on earth, the larger will be our capacity for happiness in heaven. Good to hear.
Almost any audience that I talk to I tell them Im speaking from (?), more than any of you. Its great to look forward to that heavenly reward.
We go on.
Meditation 47:Give Us This Day Our Daily
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