Praying with Justice

A moral theologian once said in his homily that prayer and Holy Mass can be seen as acts of justice. Justice is defined as “giving each one what is owed to them.”

When we go to God, when we communicate with our Creator, we are giving back what is owed to him, our worship.

But then the question arises, am I giving everything back to God, or just the bare minimum?

This past Sunday’s Gospel concludes with an answer.

“We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.” (Luke 17:10)

Wow, what an uncomfortable verse. We are asked to say that about ourselves, instead of wanting more praise for what we have done.

This is a difficult statement, but prayer can be difficult. Beyond finding the motivation to pray at times, or making sure to carve out time to pray; the words themselves of our prayer can be difficult.

Take the Creed as an example. When we say, “I believe,” we are uttering words of commitment. We don’t say, “I think,” or “I like the idea of,” but truly and fully committing ourselves to our faith in those simple words: “I believe.”

Deliver Me, Jesus

Another difficult prayer is the Litany of Humility. Victor wrote about it a few weeks ago. Here is a portion of the prayer:

From the desire of being extolled … Deliver me, Jesus
From the desire of being honored …
From the desire of being praised …
From the desire of being preferred to others…

I love how the prayer invokes protections from desires. It recognizes the desires inside of us that can lead us to pride.

Then, the prayer navigates to fostering greater care for our neighbors.

That others may be chosen and I set aside …Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be praised and I unnoticed …
That others may be preferred to me in everything…
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should…

Wow! Talk about commitment. Uncomfortable statements indeed. But again, we are only asking for the grace to desire these petitions, thus freeing ourselves if and when someone else is chosen and we are set aside.

Take this Sunday’s Gospel ending, and you can easily see it fit in to the petitions of the litany.

Faith in serving our master means seeking humility, and offering everything we can for God’s greater glory; not to feel content in doing the minimum, but humbly seeking the path of sainthood.

Daniel Quintero is a newlywed husband, writer, and avid karaoke singer. He currently attends Prince of Peace Catholic Church where he volunteers in the lector ministry and with faith formation. His favorite motto:  “Awkwardness does not exist.”

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