« ZurückWeiter »
of bliss lies open to the virtuous ? "This I have often heard, and I know well that all good will be mine, if I die happily ; but who is secure that he will die a happy death ?' Alphonsus answered, “You have spoken well, and profoundly as a theologian.
Thus we see that it appeared more desirable to this blind man to grope along for many years in his earthly blindness, than to hasten to that place where the Church prays, “that eternal rest may be his portion, and that perpetual light may shine upon him.' And if we wish to follow up the important meaning of the blind man, we may say, that a happy death is morally certain to him who can bear testimony to himself, that he has considered and received the temporal evils of this life as a remedy against those which are eternal.
If, therefore, we consider temporal evils as essential constituents of this earthly life of probation, and under the petition, “Deliver us from evil,” include also these passing evils, we pray for deliverance from them only so far as the divine Providence shall have ordained for our salvation. For, instead of freeing us entirely from all burdens, which, since the destruction entailed by sin, is neither conceivable 'nor necessary to the state of man, Providence has three other far more exalted ways to impart to us succour.
The first is by those mild consolations whereby we are strengthened to support all future evils with resignation, and even with joy. Thus St. Paul, when encompassed by dangers of every description, persecuted by deadly foes, and straitened by hunger, by sickness, by tempests, and a hundred other calamities, was enabled to exclaim, “I overbound with joy in all my
troubles !” A second and third kind of succour is, when the Divine goodness repays our evils by other favours, and, as we see in the person of Joseph in prison, converts our present evils into greater goods.
When, therefore, we pray to God, “ Deliver us from evil,” our intention is not, as it were, to bind His hands, by desiring Him to keep from us all calamity; but we implore Him not to allow any of those evils to befal us which might prevent the sanctification of His name. The Church, in truth, does pray, ' From all evils deliver us, O Lord ! but the continuation soon manifests her meaning: ‘From all sin deliver us, O Lord! From Thy wrath, from sudden and unprovided death, from the snares of the devil, from anger, from hatred and all illwill, from the spirit of uncleanness, from eternal death, deliver us, O Lord ! These are the evils from which we beg the Almighty entirely to preserve us; whereas temporal sufferings and the calamities of this life we commit wholly to His wisdom and goodness. “I have raised my eyes to the mountains, whence my help cometh. My help is from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. Behold, He will not slumber, nor will He sleep who preserves Israel. The Lord preserve thee from all evil; the Lord preserve thy soul.
The Lord preserve thy entering in and thy going out, now and for ever.” (Ps. cxx.)
ETTER,” says Solomon, “is the end than the beginning of a dis
course;" or, as we may likewise explain it, better is the end than the beginning of any prayer or occupation. But how is the end of a discourse better than the beginning?
He who commences to speak knows not how far and whither he may go, or in what labyrinths he may be entangled; but as he approaches the conclusion, he beholds his labours about to terminate, and the desired object of his labours within his grasp. And in our occupations, the end is better than the beginning, since a good beginning cannot always secure a happy termination, whereas a happy termination justifies a confidence of the goodness of the beginning. In prayer also the end is better than the beginning; for, as Cardinal Hugo remarks, he alone can derive profit from his prayer who perseveres therein to the end.
But may this truth be equally applied to the Lord's
Prayer? It commences with the address to our heavenly Father; it concludes with the little word ' amen.' In some Greek versions of the Gospels there is, indeed, the termination, “ For Thine is the kingdom, the power, and glory, for ever and ever;" but this, like the close of the Psalms, “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost," appears to be an addition placed by the hand of man; for St. Cyprian, Tertullian, St. Jerome, St. Augustine, St. Ambrose, and others, make no mention of this conclusion ; but, on the contrary, St. Jerome terms the word 'amen' the seal of the Lord's Prayer. Can we, then, say that here the end is better than the beginning? What is there great in the simple little "amen ?'
We might, moreover, inquire, as all the prayers of the Church which are addressed to the Father end with the words, “ Through Jesus Christ our Lord”—words which manifest and acknowledge that our admission to the Father, and the granting of our requests, are obtained solely through the merits of Christ—we might inquire, wherefore this highest and universal prayer is not terminated in the same manner? It may be replied, that Christ in person pronounced this prayer with His Apostles ; for as Man amongst men, and as Head of the Church, He prayed not for Himself, but for His brethren, and in their name ; and therefore He did not add, “through Jesus Christ our Lord,” but only the word ‘amen. But this explanation is not sufficient; for, to speak truly, if, in human discourse, a good end is better than a good beginning, in this divine discourse also the end is by no means inferior to the beginning; and in the word 'amen' there is no less power and
elevation than in the words, “Our Father, who art in heaven.”
For if we consider this 'amen' more closely, and examine the meaning of this word, we shall find that it admits of many explanations. Sometimes it is interpreted, let it be, so be it; at other times, indeed, verily ; and frequently in the holy Scriptures it signifies truth, wisdom, and reality. Thus Isaias foretells a time when the heathens shall no more swear by their gods and godesses, but by the God AMEN; that is, by the God of truth,—by the true God. And still more expressly do we read in the Book of Revelations, “Thus speaks He, who is the Amen ; the true and faithful witness, the beginning (that is, the author) of all the creatures of God;" where we say that the word “amen' implies the Eternal Word. No less evident is the meaning of St. Paul in his Epistle to the Corinthians : “The Son of God, Jesus Christ, who through me is made known to you, is not Yes and No, but Yes; for all the promises of God are in Him, Yes;" that is, all strengthened and fulfilled in His reality and truth ; “by Him, therefore, we cry to God Amen, to the glory of God through us." In other words, we confess that whatever God has promised us in and through Christ is Amen or truth.
Thus the “amen” wherewith the Lord's Prayer concludes is no less important than the invocation, “Our Father.” The commencement is the raising of the soul to the Eternal Father ; the termination is the sealing of the whole through the Eternal Son; consequently the commencement and the termination are bound in essential unity, and the simple amen' has no less