January 19, 2007

Be Our Guest / Ron Dierkes

When it comes to praying, semantics shouldn’t play a role

We have been hearing lately a lot concerning the “new” Mass response being changed from “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you” to “Lord, I am not worthy that thou should enter under my roof.”

This subject has been addressed on the Opinion page in recent issues of The Criterion.

I have been listening to the thoughts of others, which also includes a homily by Father Shaun Whittington at a Mass for high school students. In his homily, he was concerned about how long it would take for the phrase “under my roof” to trickle down to all congregations at Roman Catholic Masses.

Over the past 20 years, I have read the Bible through each year. In those years, I have also written over 160 prayers to our Lord Jesus Christ in a manuscript named “Book of Prayers to Our Lord Jesus Christ.” And, at the end of every prayer, it does not end in “I pray,” but rather, “we pray, Amen.”

Whether praying privately or publicly, the words “I pray” sound so proudful for our blessings that we are leaving others around us out of our prayer.

In our prayer, why don’t we include all in attendance under our Lord’s roof where we are assembled? Take out the “I, me and mine” and put in “we and ours.”

“Lord, we are not worthy to receive you under our roof, but only say the word and we shall be healed.”

There are at least two miracles in the Bible where Jesus healed without entering the requesting person’s roof: the father whose child was dying, and the centurion’s servant. Even Jesus was amazed that they had such faith.

In each case, Christ told them that his child and his slave were healed and lived. The next day, the father, upon returning home, was told that at the seventh hour the fever had left his child. It was at that hour that Jesus said to the father “your child lives.”

And it was the same way with the centurion. When he returned home, his servant lived.

When we pray, whether privately and/or publicly, we should be praying with heartfelt humility. We should be praying to the Blessed Trinity first, for others next, then ask our Lord to have mercy upon us last.

Jesus first, others next, yourself last spells “joy.”

Semantics should not mean much in our prayers. Jesus wants sincerity and wholeheartedness, whether simply long or short. All prayer is talking to/with God.

He knows what we are going to think or say even before we do. But he wants us to say it to carry on a dialogue with him.

The prayers we say only in this earthly realm will decide our fate when we meet him face to face at the judgment seat of Christ.

(Ron Dierkes is a member of Prince of Peace Parish in Madison.) †

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