In a recent RCIA class we were speaking about prayer. In the class we listed and explained the principal activities of prayer. The first one being Adoration, which in the text we use[1] is described as ‘An act offered to God, such as a psalm of praise or a sacrifice which acknowledges his supreme perfection and our dependence.’ The next principal is Thanksgiving, which is defined ‘an expression of gratitude to God for his bounty in satisfying our general or particular needs and especially for his gift of grace.’ The third principal is Repentance, with the definition being ‘A recognition of the wrong we have done to God by sin, a detestation of the evil effects of sin and a desire to turn away from evil and do good.’ The final principal listed is Petition and Intercession the definition listed as ‘The asking of proper gifts or graces from God, such as material, moral and spiritual goods and protection or rescue from evils. Petition is for oneself and Intercession is for others.’

The reason I have listed these is that in today’s Gospel we see two of these principals in the way Jesus prays for his apostles. The first words used ‘Holy Father’; Jesus is acknowledging that God is supreme, and the final part used from the prayer in today’s Gospel we hear Jesus consecrating or in other translations sanctifying himself, so that the apostles can also be consecrated; these two parts show adoration for the Father by Jesus. Most of the rest of the prayer used is spent in intercession as Jesus prays for the Apostles and especially asks for them to be protected from evil. Jesus knows they have a mission to fulfil, and He knows they will encounter opposition. Jesus asks the Father to protect them.

Now I’d like to remind us that we have been given to Jesus through our Baptism and then invite us to consider the words used by Jesus in prayer again. Jesus said, ‘Holy Father, keep those you have given to me true to your name, so that they might be one like us.Jesus is also praying for us here. We have been given to Jesus, we are his brothers and sisters, and he is praying for us to be one like him.

Jesus continues ‘while I was with them, I kept those you had given me true to your name.’ As Catholics, we know that Jesus is still with us, Jesus is with us in the Eucharist and He has sent his Holy Spirit to guide us and protect us, this means that Jesus is still working to keep us true to His name. Jesus also asks for us to be protected from the evil one. I would like to encourage us all to take time later to go through this prayer from Jesus and remind ourselves that we have been called to be his disciples and that Jesus makes this prayer for us just as much as He made this prayer for the Apostles nearly two-thousand years ago. Jesus is asking us all to be consecrated in the truth and we can only be consecrated in the truth if we establish and maintain an authentic and intimate relationship with Jesus. We can do this through prayer, reading Scriptures, taking part in the Sacraments of the Church and by reflecting Christ’s love to those we meet. I try to do this in the encounters I have when I volunteer at the Foodbank and when I support people in my ministry, trying to meet them where they are; being with them and showing them Christ’s love without any expectation of anything in return.

In the second Reading we hear a continuation [from last week’s second Reading] of the first letter of St John, which again reminds us that God is love and that if we live in love then God lives in us. We can live in God’s love if we love God and love our neighbour. Our ability to live in God’s love comes from the Holy Spirit. Last Thursday, in a mysterious way, we accompanied the Disciples as they watched Jesus ascend into Heaven; in that same mystery we accompany the disciples again as we pray for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

These nine days between Ascension Thursday and Pentecost Sunday are the original Novena. I am using the Novena from the Pray More Novenas website.[2] But I know there are others available. I encourage everyone, even if you have missed the first couple of days, to join a Novena because right now the whole world needs an outpouring of the Holy Spirit to help restore peace to the world and bring people from every nation to Jesus.

Further Reading

The Catechism of the Catholic Church

Seventh Sunday of Easter

CCC 2746-2751: Christ’s prayer at the Last Supper
CCC 2614, 2741: Jesus prays for us
CCC 611, 2812, 2821: Jesus’ prayer sanctifies us, especially in the Eucharist

Please keep in your prayers this week

  • The sick and housebound, those who are lonely, those who are dying and those who are grieving.
  • Those affected by war, those affected by crime and those trying to help these people.
  • The people of Sudan and the neighbouring countries who are trying to help alleviate the effects of famine.
  • The 29 boys and girls who made their First Holy Communion at St Bede’s this weekend and all those preparing to make their First Holy Communion in the next few weeks at all of the Churches in our Pastoral Area.
  • Those affected by poor mental health or addictions.
  • The families starting the Baptism Preparation Programme at St Bede’s this Sunday.

Deacon Tony 11th May 2024

[1] Evangelium- Sharing the riches of the Catholic Faith, [Catholic Truth Society, London, 2006]41.

[2] Novena to the Holy Spirit – Pentecost Novena PRAYERS – Pray More Novenas – Novena Prayers & Catholic Devotion