Chapter 19 of Thomas à Kempis’s The Imitation of Christ is entitled “Of the Practices of a Good Religious” (1,19). As we’ve discovered, many of the traits that Kempis encourages priests and religious to embrace are to be taken to heart by all the faithful. What resolution does he speak of? “[T]o be eminent in all virtues.” We are to “walk the walk” “every day.”
Yesterday’s gospel (Mt 6:7-15) gave us the classic version of the Lord’s Prayer. What better way to “renew our resolution” to be a good Christian than by saying this prayer at least daily, as it is meant to be said (“Give us this day our daily bread”); one is ensured this practice if able to attend Mass in which this beautiful prayer is always recited. Its seven petitions are a map of life for us — is it any wonder this came from the lips of God in Jesus?
- Thy kingdom come — How are we making the world a bit more heavenly?
- Thy will be done — Do we sincerely try to follow God’s plan for our lives?
- Give us our daily bread — Do we go to Mass fully open to the graces available in the “supersubstantial” bread we receive at Communion?
- Forgive us our trespasses — Do we examine our consciences often and ask for mercy and help?
- As we forgive — Sometimes difficult, but always necessary, to obtain our own forgiveness (this petition is so important that Jesus repeats it at the end of the prayer).
- Lead us not into temptation — Urges to do what we know is offensive to God come often so we must be vigilant and overcome these with the Lord’s help.
- Deliver us from evil — “Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for [someone] to devour” (1 Pt 5:8).
“Lord, teach us to pray” (Lk 11:1) with fervor and a firm resolution.
The Ecstasy of St. Francis, A Monk at Prayer with a Dying Monk (1640-45)
by Georges de La Tour