Translated by Fray Emilio Larlar, Jr., OAR
A. Invocation to the Holy Spirit
Let us invoke the Holy Spirit with the words of St. Augustine.
Come Holy Spirit, by whom every pious soul who believes in Christ in order to make himself a citizen of the City of God is made holy! (En. in Ps. 45, 8). Come Holy Spirit, grant that we may receive the promptings of God, place in us Your fire, illumine us and raise us up to God (Sermon 128, 4).
With a willing heart, and with sincerity, read slowly the following words, savoring them and allowing them to have an impact on you:
He was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished, one of His Disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.”* He said to them, “When you pray, say: 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.” And he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend to whom he goes at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, for a friend of mine has arrived at my house from a journey and I have nothing to offer him,’ and he says in reply from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked and my children and I are already in bed. I cannot get up to give you anything.’ I tell you, if he does not get up to give him the loaves because of their friendship, he will get up to give him whatever he needs because of his persistence. “And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish? Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the holy Spirit* to those who ask him?”
Let us meditate now with the commentary of St. Augustine on these words of the Gospel according to St. Luke:
“Therefore, for us the words are necessary: they admonish us and allow us to see what we ask for, without ever thinking that with them we can teach or force the Lord. When we say holy be Your name, we encourage ourselves to desire the name of the Lord, which is always holy, be considered as holy by men, that is, that it may not be despised . When we say that Your Kingdom come to us, which certainly must come, whether we like it or not, we may inflame our desire of that Kingdom, so that it may come to us and we may deserve to reign in it. When we say Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven, we ask for ourselves the same obedience so that we may fulfill His will, as His angels fulfill it in heaven. When we say give us this day our daily bread, in the word today we understand the present time, for which we ask that sufficiency mentioned above, under the name of bread, that is, the principal part; or perhaps it can be understood the Sacrament of the Faithful, which is necessary for us at present time, even it not for the happiness of the present time, but for what is eternal. When we say forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. We oblige ourselves to reconsider what we ask for and what we are doing, so that we may merit to receive it. When we say do not lead us into temptation, we exhort ourselves to ask for it, lest lacking in divine help, temptation may come and we may consent seduced or we may surrender afflicted. When say but deliver us from evil, we invite ourselves to think that we are not yet in that good place in which we will not suffer any bad thing. And this last which is said in the Lord’s Prayer embraces so much, that the Christian subjected to any kind of tribulation groans with that formula, he cries with it, and starts by it, and stops in it and by it he ends the prayer. It was necessary to avail oneself of the words in order to engrave in our memory the realities themselves” (Letter 130, 11.21).
“A man in whose house a visitor had arrived, went – it says- to that of a friend, he started to knock at his door saying: A visitor has arrived in my house, lend me three pieces of bread”. He answered him: “I am already resting and my servants with me”. The man does not stop, he continues there standing, he persists, he knocks; as a friend he begs from a friend. And what does Jesus say? Truly I tell you that he stands up and gives him as much bread that he wants, but not out of friendship, but because of his annoyance. Not out of friendship, even if he may be his friend, but because of his annoyance, What does out of annoyance mean? Because he did not cease knocking; even if it had been denied him, he does not go away. He who did not want to give the pieces of bread, did what was being asked of him because the other did not tire of asking. With how much reason will the one who being good, exhorts us to ask and who is displeased if we do not ask Him? If sometimes He delays in giving, He makes His gifts dearer, He does not deny them. The attainment of something that had been long awaited is sweeter; what is given to us immediately loses its value. Ask, seek and insist. By asking and seeking you obtain the necessary increase for receiving the gift. God reserves for you what He does not want to give you immediately so that you may learn to intensely desire greater things. Therefore, it is convenient to pray and not to be discouraged” (Sermon 61, 6).
Let us pray now from the bottom of our heart with the text. I suggest to you the following phrases and questions that may arouse in you the dialogue with God, and, at the same time, may elicit affections and sentiments in your dialogue with God. Do not pass to the other phrase or question if you can still continue dialoging with God in some of them. It is not a matter of finishing this list, but of helping you to pray with those points that are most applicable to your personal experience:
- “(…) ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened’. (Lk 11:9-10).
- How do you live in your prayer these three words: to ask, to seek and to knock.
- What does this phrase of St. Augustine: “This is the healthy faith, that makes us pray, seek in order to find; to ask in order to receive; to knock so that they may open to us. The one who rebels against it closes against himself the door of the di-vine mercy (De Perfect. Iust. Hom. 2, 19, 40) mean to you?
- What does the phrase of St. Augustine: “When we say Your Kingdom come, which will certainly come whether we like it or not, we inflame our desire for that Kingdom, that it may come to us and we may merit to reign in it” (Letter 130, 11, 21) suggest to you?
- What experience do you have in your life of the compassion and mercy of God?
- Are you compassionate with the persons who surround you by imitating the example of Christ?
I propose to you some points of affective inner contemplation. Once again, there is no need that you follow everything, but that you choose what is more applicable to your personal experience:
- Contemplate how you knock at the door of God and how because of your perseverance the door is opened and God give you that which you need. Allow that God during this moment of contemplation fill your heart with peace.
- Consider and taste each of the words of the Our Father. Allow them to enter your heart and check what affections and feeling are aroused in it. Do not rush forward in the content of the prayer. If a petition has provoked in you a profound love and emotion, remain in it with serenity, and pray with that profound emotion.
Think about everything that you can share with those who surround you of the experience that you have had of God, particularly with regard to the prayer of the Our Father and to ask, to call and to seek in prayer. The following points can help you as a guide in sharing with your community the experience of the lectio divina on this text:
- What have I discovered about God and about myself during this moment of prayer?
- How can I, in these moments of my life, apply this text of the Scriptures? What lights does it offer me? What challenges does it present to me?
- To what does this text of the Scripture concretely commit me in my spiritual life, in my community life?
- What has been my predominant feeling in this moment of prayer?
G. Final Prayer of St. Augustine
“From You, Lord, is from Whom one must ask, in You is in Whom one must seek, to You is Whom one must knock: thus, it will be received, it will be found, and it will be opened. Amen. (Conf. 13, 53).