Friday, January 08, 2016

Helps and models in the Dark Night: Making Prayerful Acts of Faith, Hope and Love.

All three of the theological virtues seem to me to be lacking in the greater part of the Catholic blogosphere - yet none so much as the predominant fault - the lack of charity.  "Spiritual trends" in the last few decades have touted prayer in one's own words - discarding the use of formulaic prayers.  That is a mistake - especially in times of struggle, temptation, and those times of temptation against faith and love - when bitterness sours every intention of the heart.

Little Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face exemplified the need, the wisdom of resorting to so called formulaic prayers.  Traditional prayers such as making frequent Acts of Faith in her experience of the dark night of reparation - which theologians believe she suffered, accompanying those who have no faith: 'seated at the table of sinners' as she so famously phrased it.

Today the Church seems to be immersed in the greatest night of faith ever, leading to great suffering among faithful Catholics, especially in the English speaking countries.  The temptation against faith seems to me to be a purification; the temptation against charity, even more serious, leads to greater sins - perhaps culminating in the complete rejection of the love of God.  It is very grave, very serious.

I'm no theologian to be sure, yet when one sees a lack of charity in others, or experiences it oneself - it is always recognized by a hardening of the heart, or a disregard for our neighbor.  As St. John tells us in his First Letter: "Whoever loves God must also love his brother." - 1 John 4

It seems to me we may need to use, to even daily practice the prayer of acts of Faith, Hope, and Love.  Especially love - since it seems to me, though some of us are very firm and well instructed in faith, we seem to lack charity.  Love of God first - and love of neighbor.

Act of Faith
O my God, I firmly believe that you are one God in three divine Persons,Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I believe that your divine Son became man and died for our sins and that he will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe these and all the truths which the Holy Catholic Church teachesbecause you have revealed them who are eternal truth and wisdom, who can neither deceive nor be deceived. In this faith I intend to live and die. Amen.

Act of Hope
O Lord God, I hope by your grace for the pardon of all my sinsand after life here to gain eternal happinessbecause you have promised it who are infinitely powerful, faithful, kind, and merciful. In this hope I intend to live and die. Amen.

Act of Love
O Lord God, I love you above all things and I love my neighbor for your sake because you are the highest, infinite and perfectgood, worthy of all my love. In this love I intend to live and die. Amen.

Maybe it's just me.

Anyway - these are now part of my daily morning and evening prayer.


  1. I am a big fan of formulaic prayers. When I try to wing it I just sound greedy or ungrateful or stupid...or all 3. There is a charismatic guy in my parish who can make up stuff as he goes and it always perfectly captures what needs to be said in the way it should be said - but he used to be a protestant. I'm praying for an increase in faith, hope and charity this year. Amen.

    1. Me too. If I can be gifted with all three, I can imitate the great St. Paul. "Tis not I that lives, but Christ who lives in me."
      I hope one day to pray those words with the truest of heartfelt intentions.

      Thanks for reminding me. I'm going to copy and print and make them part of my prayers too.

    2. This is also why the liturgical prayers such as the collect for Mass and the preface are such a rich source of prayer and meditation. These deepen and enrich our faith. As the saying goes, lex orandi lex credendi - the prayer informs our faith. Catholic Online explains it like this:
      " It is sometimes expanded to as, "lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi", further deepening the implications of this truth - how we worship reflects what we believe and determines how we will live."

      Therefore prayers approved for popular piety are also structured and are in conformity with the faith - which accounts for earlier imprimaturs or prayers inserted into the Roman Missal.

    3. The collects are wonderful! I wish we could say them along with Father. One of the best things I ever did was start subscribing to a magazine that provides the daily Mass readings, Gospels, collects, etc.

  2. One of the big advantages of memorized prayers is that when one is sick or suffering and everything else is too much effort, the words of those memorized prayers (even if only snippets) come back to mind. I memorized the acts of faith, hope, and charity several years ago and added them to my morning prayers.

    And the greatest of the formulaic prayers, I believe, is the rosary.


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