Lord, Teach us How to Pray?

This afternoon's Confirmation Class will be on Prayer & The Sacraments. We are following the course "I Have Chosen You" by Joseph Moore, which has an extensive section on prayer which focuses on the Creed. I think this is an important part of any confirmation course.

We live in a world where truth is usually considered provisional and changeable. “Dogmatism” is almost a dirty word. “Acceptance” is the order of the day, where everyone is considered free to hold any opinion he or she chooses, in a pluralist society.

Dogma for Catholics is the foundation of faith. The dogmas of the faith are enshrined in Creeds, about which St. Ambrose wrote
“This Creed is the spiritual seal, our hearts meditation and ever-present guardian; it is, unquestionably, the treasure of our soul” (See CCC 197)
Of course we say a Creed every Sunday at Mass, but how often do we really think about what it means or where it came from? The Nicene Creed was agree on by a Council of the Church held at Nicea in 325 AD. It is a statement or confession of belief or faith. The word derives from the Latin: credo which means I believe. It is sometimes called symbol (Greek: σύμβολο— symballein which means ‘to come together’). A symballein was used as identification, a token broken in two which, when reunited with its other half provided indelible evidence of the provenance of a document or tryst or that a person was who they were supposed to be. So, a symballein is something that points to its complementary other half and thus creates mutual recognition and unity. Thus it signifies a "token" by which persons of like beliefs might recognise each other. Affirmation of the Nicene Creed, which describes the Trinity, is generally taken as a fundamental test of orthodoxy.

She'ma Yisrael
Hear O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One.
Blessed is His name, whose glorious kingdom is forever and ever.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and all your soul, and all your might. These words that I command you today shall be upon your heart. Repeat them to your children, and talk about them when you sit in your home, and when you walk in the street; when you lie down, and when you rise up. Hold fast to them as a sign upon your hand, and let them be as reminders before your eyes. Write them on the doorposts of your home and at your gates
This prayer is a creedal expression of Israel’s faith that would have been repeated by Jesus and His community as it still is by the Jewish community today. It is the Jewish community’s shared story of how God has been at work in the people. Jesus’ resurrection led his followers to a fundamental alteration in the narrative that they shared with their fellow Jews.  With other Jews they confessed one God- this distinguished them from the polytheism of the Greco-Roman world. But they distinguished themselves from other Jews by professing Jesus as Christ, Lord and Son of God.

The story had moved on, and Jesus followers wanted to add the next chapter to the history of God’s Revelation to the world! The Creed was decided upon at the Council of Nicea, which was the first ecumenical or world wide council of the Church and was called by the Roman emperor Constantine to resolve a dispute and was the first of its kind. Vatican II was only the twenty-first world-wide council in sixteen centuries! Think of it, for sixteen centuries Catholics have professed this same summary of our faith! The Creed was an expression of the Christian faith that everyone at the council could agree on.

The Lord's Prayer

I think the best way to think about prayer, is to follow Jesus' model in Luke 11:1. We can learn so much just by reflection on this prayer. So I will be getting the young people to read from Matthew 6:5 and Luke 11:1 f. And teaching them what each line of the Lord's Prayer actually means, like Fr. Robert Barron does here:


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