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:
Then He told them a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary. He said, “There was a judge in a certain town who neither feared God nor respected any human being. And a widow in that town used to come to him and say, ‘Render a just decision for me against my adversary.’ For a long time the judge was unwilling, but eventually he thought, ‘While it is true that I neither fear God nor respect any human being, because this widow keeps bothering me I shall deliver a just decision for her lest she finally come and strike me.’” The Lord said, “Pay attention to what the dishonest judge says. Will not God then secure the rights of His chosen ones who call out to Him day and night? Will He be slow to answer them? I tell you, He will see to it that justice is done for them speedily. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
Let us meditate with the commentary of St. Augustine on these words of the Evangelist St. Luke:
“The reading of the holy Gospel moves us to pray and believe and not to boast of ourselves, but of the Lord. What better exhortation to prayer than what is suggested to us in this parable of the wicked judge? Indeed, a wicked judge who did not fear God nor respected men, overpowered by boredom, not moved by love for the person, listened to the widow who was bothering him. If, therefore, the one who could not stand that he be asked listened, how does the one who exhorts us to pray hear? Once, through this comparison as an argument by contrast, the Lord has persuaded us that it is necessary to pray always and not to be discouraged, added the following: However, do you believe that, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth? If faith weakens, prayer disappears. Because who can ask for something in which he does not believe? For this reason, the blessed Apostle, exhorting to pray says: For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (Rom 10:13). And in order to show that faith is the source of prayer and that the river cannot flow when the spring of water dries up, he added: How can they call on him in whom they have not believed? (Rom 10:14). Let us therefore believe, so that we can pray. And so that the faith by which we pray may not weaken, let us pray. Prayer flows from faith; and the prayer that flows obtains firmness for the same faith. From faith, I repeat – prayer flows; and the prayer that flows obtains firmness for the sake of the same faith. So that faith may not weaken precisely in the midst of temptations, the Lord said: Be vigilant and pray that you may not fall into temptation (Lk 22:46). Be vigilant, He says – and pray that you may not fall into temptation? What does to fall into temptation but to leave the faith? Temptation advances more when faith weakens more and temptation becomes weaker when faith becomes stronger. But so that Your Charity may see more clearly that the Lord said: Be vigilant and pray that you may not fall into temptation, referring Himself to faith, with a view that it may not weaken and disappear, the Lord says in the same passage of the Gospel: Tonight Satan has asked to sift you like wheat; I have prayed for you, Peter, that your faith may not fail (Lk 22:31-32). Does the one who protects pray, and does not the one who is in danger not pray? The words of the Lord: Do you believe that when the Son of Man comes will He encounter on earth? has reference to perfect faith. This is hardly found on earth. See that the Church of God is filled with people; if there were no faith, who would come near her? Who would not transfer the mountains if faith were not total. Look at the Apostles themselves: they would not have followed the Lord, after having abandoned and trodden on every human hope, if they had not possessed great faith. On the other hand, if they had no total faith they would not have told Him: Increase our faith (Lk 17:5). Think also about another who confessed about himself one thing or another; becomes aware that he had faith, but not total. Having presented his son to the Lord so that He may heal him freeing it of evil spirit, and having been asked if he believed, he answered saying: I believe, Lord; help my incredulity (Mk 9:23). I believe- he said – I believe, Lord: therefore there is faith. But help my incredulity: therefore it is not a total faith” (Sermon 115, 1).
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:
- “If, therefore, the one who could not stand that he be asked listened, how does the one who exhorts us to pray hear?” (Sermon 115, 1).
- During what occasions of your life have you come to believe that God does not hear you when you pray?
- If the widow of the parable was hear because of her insistence, how must your prayer be?
- Prayer springs from faith; and the prayer that springs gains firmness for the sake of faith itself” (Sermon 115, 1).
- How do you live this virtuous circle of faith-prayer-greater faith, that St. Augustine presents to us?
- Why do you believe that prayer springs from faith?
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 the widow insists in knocking at the door of the wicked judge so that he may do her justice one day or another. Learn from this contemplation perseverance in your prayer.
- Consider how Christ is near you and hears you. Reflect on how He puts attention to everything you say and listens to you as nobody has ever done. Contemplate and open your heart to the Lord who always hears and accepts your prayer.
Think about everything you can share with those who surround you of the experience that you have had of God, especially with regard to not being discouraged in prayer and to know that God always hears when we pray, The following points can help you, as 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
“God hears only one prayer of the obedient before ten thousands of the rebel” (De Op. Mon. 17, 20).