I would like to continue using each letter of the OUR FATHER as a reminder of the nine indispensable ingredients of daily prayer, by turning to the letter ‘U’. This letter will remind us of the profound context in which the Morning Offering that we have just made takes place, and of all prayer. In short, it is made in, with, and through Christ. Let us now see what it means to pray in union with him.

 Union with Christ

It was my mother who first taught me something that I will never forget. She said that even though I may make my Morning Offering alone by the side of my bed, I was not alone. My prayer would always be made in, with, and through Jesus, and so with all other Christians, wherever they are. The  Jesuit liturgist Father Joseph Jungmann  said that “Christ does not offer alone. His people are joined to him and offer with him and through him. Indeed, they are absorbed into him and form one body with him by the Holy Spirit who lives in all.”

This also means that we can pray to and with all the saints who are alive in Christ as we are, and with and for  all our relatives and friends too, both living and dead, who are alive in Him. She especially taught me to pray in the same way for  the Holy Souls in purgatory.

My mother also  told me that this was the perfect opportunity to pray for others too, especially those who have asked me to pray for them. She said, when you hear about people who are suffering all over the world, on the radio, the television or in the newspapers, you can reach out to them through prayer, because prayer is not limited by space and time as we are.

Wisdom from St Padre Pio

 St Padre Pio was praying when a lay brother, believing that  he was out, burst into his room to find him lost  in prayer. The saint dismissed his apologies with the words, “I was just praying for a happy death for my Father”. “But your Father died two years ago!” the brother said, looking rather surprised. Padre Pio looked at him in disbelief and said. “I know he did”.

True Christian prayer is not limited to the world of space and time in which we live. It takes us into another dimension where, in the mystical body of Christ, it can reach out now to help those in need,  to the four corners of the world, and just as easily to the needy  in the past and in the  future. That is why the Church made  St Thérèse of Lisieux, a young, enclosed  Carmelite nun, the patroness of the missions.

Speaking on the radio a Catholic doctor who was tortured in a Chilean jail, said that she received tremendous help from the prayers of friends back home. She likened their prayers to ‘waves of love’ that sustained her through some of the darkest moments of her ordeal.

On the same news program, I heard the story of a group of Christians suffering in Chinese indoctrination camps who risked their lives to smuggle a tape recording out to their brethren in the West begging for their prayers. Suffering makes people of deep faith sensitive to the extraordinary power of prayer.

The Prayer without Ceasing

 The wonderful thing about praying for others in the morning is that they can be included in the self-sacrificial prayer that becomes the rest of our day.

 In this way, instead of just a few brief moments at the beginning of the day praying for those we love, our prayer for them will correspond with the ‘prayer without ceasing’ as every moment of our day is taken up in trying to turn to God in formal prayer and turning to him outside of prayer  in the neighbour in need. We can do the same for those who ask us to pray for them. Instead of just giving them a moment of our time, we give them every moment of our day. In this way they not only benefit from our selfless giving, but from what we receive in return from the God who can use us as a prism to direct his love through us to others. Practising this daily offering to God and dying to self is so very much harder than before. But no matter what stage you are passing through in your spiritual journey, you must never fail to say your Morning Offering, and if possible short prayers of the heart throughout the day. This will help you to transform your day into the Mass, making it into the place where you continually offer all you say and do to God, in, with and through Jesus Christ Our Lord.

Reviewing the day ahead

 The third letter in my blueprint is ‘R’ to remind us that despite what I have just said, the Morning Offering is not a magic formula. It does not automatically transform the forthcoming day, and that is why something further is required. Spend a few minutes reviewing the day ahead, making a few resolutions that would enable you to try to consecrate every moment of the day to loving God.

It may be by pausing for brief moments of prayer during the day, as the early Christians were taught to do by Jesus Himself, but also in doing humdrum tasks that we keep putting off, like changing the sheets on the beds, putting air into the car tyres, defrosting the freezer or something that is more important.

There is always that friend or relative who is sick or in need, whom we should telephone, or get in contact with , or even visit for a few minutes. We may have to make a resolution to apologize to one of the family, a friend, or someone at work for the way we behaved towards them the previous day.

It is very difficult to stand up for someone who has been abused by authority at work, or elsewhere, or to speak the truth when no one wants to hear it, or to make a stand for what we know is right. But nevertheless, these are some of the more important things that could occupy our minds as part of Morning Prayer

In order to develop the prayer that can continually help us to raise our hearts and minds to God as we practise the asceticism of the heart please follow the Podcast on prayer on this web-site entitled The Hermit – Wisdom from the Western Isles

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