YOUTCAT contents for At-Home Lesson#4

YOUCAT# 500~503, 505, and 507~510 + p.273 margin + p.275 margin [1]

YOUCAT#500 Are there various ways to pray?

Yes, there is vocal prayer, meditation, and contemplative prayer. All three ways of prayer presuppose recollecting one’s mind and heart. [2699, 2721].

YOUCAT#501 What is vocal prayer?

In the first place, prayer is lifting the heart to God. And yet Jesus himself taught his disciples to pray with words. With the Our Father he left us the perfect vocal prayer as his testament to show how we should pray. [2700-2704, 2722]

While praying we should not try to think pious thoughts. We should express what is in our hearts and offer it to God as complaint, petition, praise, and thanks. Often it is the great vocal prayers—the Psalms and hymns of Sacred Scripture, the Our Father, the Hail Mary—that direct us to the true substance of prayer and lead to a kind of free, interior prayer.

YOUCAT#502 What is the essence of meditation?

The essence of meditation is a prayerful seeking that starts with a sacred text or a sacred image and explores the will, the signs, and the presence of God. [2705-2708]

We cannot “read” sacred images and texts the way we read things in the newspaper that do not immediately concern us. Instead, we should meditate on them; in other words I should lift my heart to God and tell him that I am now quite open to what God wants to say to me through what I have read or seen. Besides Sacred Scripture, there are many texts that lead to God and are suitable for meditative prayer.

YOUCAT#503 What is interior or “contemplative” prayer?

The Contemplative prayer is love, silence, listening, and being in the presence of God. [2709-2719,2724]

For interior prayer one needs time, resolve, and above all a pure heart. It is the humble, poor devotion of a creature that drops all masks, believes in love, and seeks God from the heart. Interior prayer is often called the prayer of the heart and CONTEMPLATION.

YOUCAT#505 Why is prayer sometimes a struggle?

The spiritual masters of all times have described growth in faith and in love for God as a spiritual, life-and-death combat. The battlefield is man’s interior life. The Christian’s weapon is prayer. We can allow ourselves be defeated by our selfishness and lose ourselves over worthless things—or we can win God. [2725,2726-2728,2729-2733,2734-2741,2742-2745,2746-2751,2752]

Often someone who wants to pray must first conquer his lack of will power. Even the Desert Fathers were acquainted with spiritual sluggishness (“acedia”). Reluctance to seek God is a big problem in the spiritual life. The spirit of the times sees no point in praying, and our full calendars leave no room for it. Then there is the battle against the tempter, who will try anything to keep a person from devoting himself to God. If God did not want us to find our way to him in prayer, we would not win the battle.

YOUCAT#507 What happens if you find that prayer does not help?

Prayer does not seek superficial success but rather the will of God and intimacy with him. God’s apparent silence is itself an invitation to take a step farther—in total devotion, boundless faith, endless expectation. Anyone who prays must allow God the complete freedom to speak whenever he wants, to grant whatever he wants, and to give himself however he wants. [2735-2737]

Often we say: I have prayed, but it did not help at all. Maybe we are not praying intensely enough. The saintly Curé of Ars once asked a brother priest who was complaining about his lack of success, “You have prayed, you have sighed . . . but have you fasted, too? Have you kept vigil?” It could also be that we are asking God for the wrong things. St. Teresa of Avila once said, “Do not pray for lighter burdens; pray for a stronger back.”

YOUCAT#508 What happens if you do not feel anything when you pray or even experience reluctance to pray?

Distractions during prayer, the feeling of interior emptiness and dryness, indeed, even an aversion to prayer are experienced by everyone who prays. Then to persevere faithfully is itself already a prayer. [2729-2733]

Even St. Thérèse of Lisieux for a long time could not sense God’s love at all. Shortly before her death she was visited one night by her sister Celine. She noticed that Thérèse’s hands were clasped together. “What are you doing? You should try to sleep”, Celine said. “I cannot. I am suffering too much. But I am praying”, Thérèse replied. “And what do you say to Jesus?” “I do not say anything to him. I love him.”

YOUCAT#509 Isn’t praying a flight from reality?

Someone who prays does not flee from reality; rather, he opens his eyes for reality as a whole. From Almighty God himself he receives the strength to cope with reality.

Prayer is like going to a gas station where we get free fuel for our long journeys and extreme challenges. Praying does not lead out of reality but, rather, deeper into it. Praying does not take time away from other things but, rather, doubles the remaining time and fills it with intrinsic meaning.

YOUCAT#510 Is it possible to pray always?

Prayer is always possible. Prayer is vitally necessary. Prayer and life cannot be separated. [2742-2745, 2757]

You cannot keep God content with a few words in the morning or evening. Our life must become prayer, and our prayers must become life. Every Christian life story is also a story of prayer, one long attempt to achieve ever greater union with God. Because many Christians experience a heartfelt longing to be with God constantly, they turn to the so-called “Jesus prayer”, which has been an ageold custom particularly in the Eastern Churches. The person who prays it tries to integrate a simple formula—the most well-known formula is “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner”—into his daily routine in such a way that it becomes a constant prayer.

p.273 margin

In a spiritual way we reach. . . [through our prayers] all of God’s creation, from the farthest planets to the depths of the ocean, a lonely convent chapel as well as an abandoned church, an abortion clinic in one city and a prison cell in another., indeed, heaven and the gates of hell. We are connected with every part of creation. We pray with every creature and for every creature, so that all for whom the blood of God’s Son was shed may be saved and sanctified.



p.275 margin

There are many paths of prayer. Some people follow only one, while others walk along all of them. There are moments of a lively certainty: Christ is there, he is speaking inside us. In other moments he is the silent one, a distant stranger. . . . For everyone prayer remains, in its infinite variations, a passageway to a life that does not come from ourselves but from somewhere else.


References / Citations

[1] Miller, Michael J, and Benedict. Youcat English: Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church. San Francisco, Calif: Ignatius Press, 2011, pp.274-280.

[2] Catechism of the Catholic Church. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1994.

[3] BibleGateway (online bible).