The Secret of St. Patrick’s Prayer

Some thoughts on prayer from Dom Eugene Boylan for today . . .

Jesus knows well our horror of penance; He understands perfectly our dislike of suffering; nay, more, He sympathizes with us in these difficulties. True, He wishes us to help Him to carry His cross, but He also wishes to help us to do so. So sweet is His aid, so enthralling His companionship, that St. Teresa found that it was only the first of her crosses that was really hard; once she had embraced the nettle of her cross she found herself in close union with Jesus.

There is no joy in this life to equal that of sharing the cross with Jesus. It needs courage, it needs grace, it needs perhaps a special call; but the truth is that this path of suffering and of penance – penance, be it well understood, undertaken or accepted according to God’s will and not our own – is the road of highest joy, and the sure path to the heights of prayer. The importance of mortification is not so much that it hurts us, but that it gives Jesus a new life in us; we only put ourselves to death – that is what “mortification” means – in order to clear the way for Christ. That is at once the motive of mortification and its measure. If it only serves to make us more self–satisfied and proud, then it is no longer mortification of self; it is rather the mortification of Jesus.

The true principle of mortification was laid down by St. John the Baptist when he said: “He must increase, I must decrease.” Perhaps a somewhat far–fetched comparison may help to put this process in its true light. The bread and wine that are changed into the Body and Blood of Our Lord at Mass once graced the earth in a glory of purple and gold; they were cut down, beaten and bruised, ground and pressed out of all recognition. Not until many changes had been made in them could the priest say over them the words that would make them the Flesh and Blood of Christ.

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