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1993 3/03 Spiritual Exercises Days 15-19 S1

by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.

MP3 Disc 1 Received from Breslin

These Sermons were taped by Daniel Peper who
traveled and taped Fr. Hardon from 1990 to 1995

Day 15 of the Spiritual Exercises: The Sermon on the Mount

  1. The Lord's Prayer (Part 1)
  2. Meditation 43: Our Father
  3. Meditation 44: Hallowed Be Thy Name
  4. Meditation 45: Thy Kingdom Come

Day 16: The Lord's Prayer (Part 2)

  1. Meditation 46: Thy Will Be Done…
  2. Meditation 47: Give Us This Day…
  3. Meditation 48: Do Not Lead Us Into Temptation…
  4. The Public Ministry of Jesus

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and, of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.

Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Seat of Wisdom.

Pray for us.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

First: regarding our schedule, we are to meet next Monday; today is Wednesday. And I begin the seminar with the Missionaries of Charity on Monday and it goes on for ten days. Normally it goes on through the day closing with the Holy Hour in the evening. So let’s plan, if you don’t mind, for starting at seven-thirty on Monday. If that’s O.K.? Next Monday, I should be finished by seven o’clock. Well, it’s about a half an hour’s drive. I should finish by seven there and get to the university by seven-thirty. So at least for Monday, let’s plan for seven-thirty and then, what we may do if you wish, since it’s only two days, we can plan on seven-thirty to eight-thirty on Monday. Is that O.K.? And I’ll find out what the… I guess we might have to meet on Wednesday, but at least that Monday we start at seven-thirty and we’ll finish at eight-thirty. But always, as we are doing, I will meet as many as I can immediately after the present conference. And I have a fellow… one call from Washington at nine, which should be finished by nine fifteen. I have a call from Florida at nine forty-five, which should finish, even before ten. O.K.? So we’ll go until eight-thirty tonight and then conferences; private, until nine; and then nine to nine fifteen, one phone call; nine-fifteen until nine forty-five, then if necessary I can be of service, either after ten or whatever.

Given the number of days between today and Monday; I believe it’s five days. That means today that we begin what we call points. That’s the technical term, points, for the meditations for the next five days. So it’s fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, eighteen and nineteen days. Five times three is fifteen, and we have something less than an hour and a half, so we cannot spend too much time. I should warn myself, not to try to cover too much on any one meditation.

Day 15 of the Spiritual Exercises: The Sermon on the Mount

The Lord’s Prayer (Part One)

Remember this is the Sermon on the Mount, and we now go from the Beatitudes to the Lord’s Prayer.

What was the gospel for yesterday’s Mass? The Lord’s Prayer.

First of all then, the Lord’s Prayer: Part One, and then the next day the Lord’s Prayer: Part Two. You know we are spending two days, which means six meditations, on the Lord’s Prayer. The Baltimore Catechism, as I think I told you, the whole fourth part is on the Lord’s Prayer; as was the Roman Catechism published at the Council of Trent. Four parts, here is your catechetical course is in four parts. Having been working on the Catechism, knowing what was coming, it’s common sense to plan ahead of time so you won’t feel that you’re out of touch with reality.

So the Lord’s Prayer is by all odds the single most important prayer that anyone, and not just Christians or Catholics.

St. Augustine said, speaking of those already in his day who were separated from the Catholic Church, he said, “They will cease to be our brothers when they cease to recite the Lord’s Prayer.” In other words, the one common denominator among all believing Christians, no matter how much, how liberal they believe, is still the Our Father.

Meditation 43: Our Father

Meditation 43: As we begin the Our Father, we try to realize to whom we are speaking, even though the words are Our Father, we are speaking to all three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Because remember, the word Father has two very different meanings in our Faith. When the second person of the Holy Trinity speaks, as Christ never… he never spoke to his Father as Our Father…never; He told us when you pray, you say Our Father. Christ always said: My Father, My Father.

Now the difference is, of course, the most fundamental in our Faith; we believe that God is not a solitary being. He is indeed only one Being, but he is not a being in solitude. God is a community; God is a plurality. There are three Persons, which means there are three individuals in God. How can that be? Well, that’s part of the mystery. And we then, when remember in the Book of Genesis the author describes the work of Creation and quotes God creating the human race; this is God, already, in Genesis saying: “Let us”, plural, “make man to our image”.

Now there are two meanings to that most fundamental truth of our Faith; that we are created. The first meaning, when God said, “Let us make man to our image and likeness”, that unlike the whole rest of creation that God made, we, pardon me, are unlike the rest of visible creation; the sun, moon, and stars, the animals, vegetation. We, unlike them; we, like God, have a mind and a will. So, the first meaning of image and likeness is that we have, like God himself, a mind that can think and a will that can choose.

So on that fundamental level, God is our Father. Remember the essence of fatherhood; the essence of fatherhood is communicating one’s nature. That is why the feminist movement is the most devastating heresy in the history of Christianity. Do you hear me? And it is destructive. People, for example, writing to me letter after letter, telephone calls; women in Church out loud… instead of saying “Our Father” they will, at the top of the voice, shout, “Our Father and mother”. Most of them I’m sure don’t know what they’re talking about. Some do.

So God, therefore, is our Father, first of all, by sharing with us something of his own divine nature and being able, like him, to think and to choose and love.

But then secondly, the plural already in Genesis, which comes as a surprise, “let us make man to our image and likeness.” If it is one thing that Judaism believed in it is that God is one being; monotheistic, no plurality of Gods. Yet God says, “Let us make man according to our image”. Why the plural? They’re one in nature; God is three in persons.

What is the second sense in which God is our Father? He is our Father, first, because he shared with us, or as we share with him, our rational nature. He also shared with us his social nature; God is a society. Now clearly you have to spend hours really explaining what that means. In any case, all this locked up in the word “Father” when we address God as Our Father.

Meditation 44:Hallowed Be Thy Name

Forty four. Now notice the first meditation is on the opening salutation. But then there are seven petitions to the Lord’s Prayer. So that the opening salutation, call it act of adoration. Then the first petition: Hallowed be Thy name. We all know what it means, but it is well to remind ourselves that the word hallowed means, to make holy. The latin: Pater Noster. I don’t think I should spend more time on… we’ve got so many to go.

Who Art in Heaven: This heaven where God dwells, for me the most clear definition of heaven: “heaven is where the experience of God’s presence is enjoyed.” “Heaven is where the experience of God’s presence is enjoyed.” Thus defined as the Fathers of the Church: Thus defined the God to whom we are speaking, who art in heaven, is not only in heaven somewhere away from us. No, this God is within us. And of course, we are to experience the happiness of God’s presence already on earth as an anticipation of the perfect happiness in the life to come.

Now back to the second meditation, Hallowed be thy name.

First of all, God is already all holy. I’m sure I’ve said this more than once, but as I’ve said so many times my definition of a good teacher is one who can repeat without boring.

What is God’s holiness; what is a synonym for the holiness of God? The perfect theological synonym for the holiness of God is the otherness of God. God is the totally other. There not only is no one like him, there cannot be anyone like him. Only he is a being who must exist. God cannot not exist. God must exist. God is the being who cannot not be. There cannot, to coin a phrase, “have nothing”. There must be being. The only being who must be, is God. All other beings need not be. Even though theologically we call them contingent. There are contingent. Meaning what? A perfect synonym for contingent is unnecessary. We don’t have to be. How do we know that we don’t have to be? Because time was when we weren’t. And what wasn’t, clearly need not exist. What did not exist, need not exist. That’s simple logic.

When then we pray, Hallowed be thy name, we don’t mean, we cannot mean, that God within the Trinity is somewhat to be sanctified and made more holy. That’s blasphemy. It can only mean that among those creatures who have a free will, they can either recognize the holiness of God, meaning the otherness of God, and, watch this, and therefore their own total dependence on God. These three words are perfect theological synonyms: contingent beings, dependent beings, unnecessary beings; that’s us. We are contingent, we are unnecessary, and we are totally, utterly dependent, not only for our continued existence of our being… even for having come into existence. Talk about dependence! And this is what we pray for in the first petition.

That human beings are living in the one age in history in which there’s never been anything like it on the scale of which there is now when monotheism is widespread. One god; who is the one god? The self.

I have lectures on what I’m calling the new paganism. The old paganism was plurality of Gods. The new paganism is monotheism; that’s there’s one god. Who’s that one god? Me! That’s not a figure of speech.

What then are we praying for? That God may be recognized for Who He is, and as a consequence that human beings might recognize with their minds and submit with their wills to their complete dependence on the one true God.

Meditation 45: Thy Kingdom Come

Third meditation: Thy kingdom come. In the Gospels, Christ used the word ekklesia, which is the Greek word for church, only twice. He used the word basileia, which means kingdom, constantly. Passage after passage, parable after parable, our Lord speaks of the kingdom. The kingdom is like, remember, a marriage feast, the kingdom is like this, the kingdom is like that. Christ is always talking about the kingdom. What does he mean by the kingdom? He means three things: The kingdom is the Church, and the Church therefore in Christ’s revealed word is the Church Militant on earth, the Church in Purgatory suffering, and the Church Triumphant in Heaven; otherwise, the militant kingdom, the suffering kingdom, and the triumphant Kingdom.

This by the way of St. Ignatius, from start to finish, that’s why in God’s Providence, of all the persons that God would have chosen to be the principle reformer for the demoralized, de-Christianized, Catholic Church of the sixteenth century it was, ceasilation (?), totally lost to the Catholic Church, completely: England, Wales, Scotland, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark.

And who remembers the year that St. Thomas More and John Fischer were martyred?

Fifteen thirty-five. You ought to know some of these dates. Eighteen years after Luther broke with the Church, Henry VIII having broken with Rome, he wanted to discard his wife and ever since had been persecuting the Catholic Church.

If you want to know what the Catholic Church teaches; if you want to understand Catholic history you cannot, comma, cannot, comma, you cannot depend on an English writer. Cannot. There are two histories of the Catholic Church: the British and all the others. And I don’t have Anglophobia; I just know my history, that’s all.

Well, kingdom, therefore, means that for us it is the militant kingdom. In other words, when St. Ignatius talks about extending the kingdom he was not drawing on his fertile imagination, he was drawing on the Gospels; that is Christ’s principle term for the Church. And the Church on earth is the Church Militant. And whether we like it or not, whether people even believe it or not, we are all conscripted. And, we better know the enemy.

So when we pray, Thy Kingdom Come, we are praying for the extension, especially of the kingdom on earth, which is the militant kingdom of Christ, which is the Church.

Sixteenth Day:The Lord’s Prayer (Part Two)

Meditation 46:Thy Will Be Done on Earth as It is in Heaven

The sixteenth day: part two of the Lord’s Prayer: Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

There’s only one reason, one fundamental reason, why we have a free will, and that is to do the will of God; to use our wills to do his will. And that is why the most important reason we have a mind. Why do we have a will? To do God’s will. Why do we have a mind? To know God’s will. It’s that simple, as by now we all know, that hard. The main reason we have a mind is to know the will of God. The main reason we have a will is to do that will of God.

Why does Christ tell us to pray that God’s will might be done on earth as it is in heaven? Because, God’s will in heaven is done by everybody. God’s will in heaven is done enjoyably. God’s will in heaven is done un-enviously.

We are all, all, all constantly tempted to envy, constantly, constantly. Which as you know is the sadness we are tempted to feel where someone has what we lack or someone has succeeded where we have failed. The principle reason for the breakdown of family life, the main reason for divorces over the centuries, is envy.

I think I’ve told you the longest letter from the early Church written by the Pope, Pope Clement I, remember, is his letter to the Corinthians dated about 90. A.D.; is all about envy. Get a copy, get a copy of St. Clement’s First Letter to the Corinthians; first century; written before the Gospel of St. John was written. It’s not the Bible, but a document; the first two documents of a pope are the two letters of Peter, and of the letter in the first century of a pope is Clement. And the whole letter, it’s a long letter, it needs translation with footnotes, it’s a little book; all about envy.

And as I remembered, that’s what I talked about in Moscow and again in Warsaw. And the closer we live with people the more tempted we are to envy these people.

So what we are praying for is that the will of God be done on earth as it is in heaven. It would be blasphemy to say that the will be done in heaven as it is on earth. In heaven everybody does God’s will…does it perfectly. Question. Does every one in heaven do God’s will equally? No. Some do it, to coin a word, more generously than others. Everybody is generous, but remember, in heaven the capacity of our happiness will differ. The capacity for happiness in heaven will differ depending on how much capacity we have merited on earth. The more faithfully we have done God’s will on earth, the larger will be our capacity for happiness in heaven. Good to hear.

Almost any audience that I talk to I tell them I’m speaking from (?), more than any of you. It’s great to look forward to that heavenly reward.

We go on.

Meditation 47:Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread and
Forgive Us Our Trespasses as We Forgive Those Who Trespass Against Us

Meditation 47: Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.

Notice, what I’ve done to cover the whole matter in ninety meditations…I sometimes telescope into one day, even one meditation, more than one, maybe two.

So first, what are we praying for? We are praying for substance. Now the first substance that we are praying for, you might say chronologically, is substance for our body. But theologically, our main petition is praying for spiritual nourishment. And what is our principle, spiritual nourishment? It is Christ himself. And this is where - some of you at the classes we’re having in Ann Arbor - I cannot tell you how widespread is the heresy of denying the Real Presence is becoming in once Catholic circles. St. Anthony Messenger Press; openly denying the Real Presence, openly! And most pathetic, an imprimatur from the bishop. And if you noticed from the Franciscan Provincial. Somebody had better still know what the Catholic Church teaches. Right?

Somebody better know, let me tell you, or we’ll pay the price. That’s why we’re here. Not just another class, believe me...oh no! Millions who have had the Catholic Faith, and this is in the twentieth century, have given it up.

Meditation 48: Do Not Lead Us Into Temptation, But Deliver Us From Evil

And then Forty-eight: Do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

You will notice those are two petitions for this one meditation. Let’s backtrack for a moment. Let’s recite the Lord’s Prayer together until I tell you to stop.

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Stop. So the first three petitions are petitions, we might say, in the divine interest; petitions for God. The last four are petitions for ourselves. Hallowed be Thy name, thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is heaven; we are praying that the interests of God might be met. Then with the fourth petition, as we’re coming down to earth: Give us our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And now: lead us not into temptation.

Are we praying to be delivered from temptation? No. To live on earth is to be tempted. But let’s be clear; the essence of temptation is, to be tried. In other words the verb that goes along with the noun, trial, is: to try; to be tried. And the passive voice, to be tried. To be tried by whom? By God. So when we then pray: not to be led into temptation, we are not asking to be delivered from trial. No. There are especially two meanings. We are praying that we might have the prudence and the wisdom not to unnecessarily expose ourselves to temptations which God would not want us to be exposed to. In other words, there is such a thing as tempting God. And there are two ways of tempting God. One way is to expect God to give you what you need without prayer. Not to pray is to tempt God. Another way of tempting God is to expose oneself to temptations for which I am not prepared.

Now there are some temptations that only a very rare person can overcome; other temptations that more people can overcome. So I am praying that I might have wisdom not to unnecessarily expose myself to temptation that is beyond my strength. And God knows my strength.

And secondly, we pray that we might not be led into temptation such as we will not benefit from. This is most important. God tries us in order to bless us. And again, given this awful English language, which I keep telling every audience that I talk to; it’s not a Catholic language. In other words, we are praying that we will be not led into temptation which will not be spiritually beneficial to us. God allows us to be tempted. Why? That we might become more generous, more humble, more patient; love him more. Love, remember, is proved by pain. And the only real test of love is pain. Remember the prepositions. If I really love someone, I want to suffer like the person that I love; I want to suffer for the person that I love; I want to suffer with the person; and hardest of all, I’m wanting to suffer from the person whom I love. Can’t people we love cause us pain? You husbands; Bill, would you agree? I think Mary, she’d agree too.

But that’s love. And it’s not what the world is telling us it is.

But, deliver us from evil.

I keep coming back because I know how easy it is for human nature to forget. Remember that phrase? Like a valid human mind to forget is…. Remember there are two kinds of evil, and we’re praying in the closing petition of the Lord’s Prayer for deliverance from both kinds of evil. There is moral evil and there is physical evil. What’s another one word for moral evil? Sin. What’s another word for physical evil? One word. Pain. We ask to be delivered from sin and pain. How do we ask to be delivered from sin, absolutely! We ask to grow in sinless-ness; to become less and less sinful. To sin, pause, less. As I keep telling people, one of the most laudable ambitions we should have is to die sinless. We are praying to be delivered from sin, absolutely.

But then we also pray to be delivered from physical evil, or pain. But then conditionally, we ask to be delivered from the evil of pain; condition on what? Condition on God’s foreknowledge that the pain would not help us, morally, spiritually. Is pain good for the spirit? Sure it is. Is pain helpful for the soul? Sure it is. Is it profitable to experience either more pain than we can take, or pain that will not be spiritually profitable? Sure. By now volumes, I mean volumes, have been written on just this closing petition of the Lord’s Prayer.

We go on.

You know what I’ve done? I’ve added maxims of the saints. Now, towards the end of the exercises, sometimes I… see I find going over the saints, and that is I began to run out of maxims. So, sometimes I have to search one hour to find one good maxim that would fit the meditation. But, I may have to when the thing is published, I may have to pull some of the maxims in one part and put them elsewhere. Some meditations have a lot of maxims.

But let me tell you this. And what I’m doing of course is revealing, obviously, myself. I cannot recommend anything more urgently for your reading, always after the Bible; first, Sacred Scripture; I cannot recommend anything more to you than to read the writings of the saints. Read the writings of the saints. They will do wonders for you.

Anyway, I’m talking about the maxims. Now, a few of these over the years I’ve memorized. I just memorize mentally; but memorized volitionally, part of my life.

In other words, that’s why the Church under divine guidance canonizes saints. Two reasons infallibly once the pope canonizes a saint; we know two things infallibly: First, that that person is in heaven, in heavenly glory. Secondly, we‘re infallibly sure that person’s life is imitable. By imitating that saint, we then can become more and more like him or her. And we need that; to identify with certain people who have been canonized either because of their state of life, or the trials and sufferings they’ve had, or whatever. In any case, the maxims are part of the exercises.

Day 17 of the Spiritual Exercises: The Public Ministry of Jesus

Now the 17th day: the Public Ministry of Jesus. Now this again, notice, is part one. We have three meditations for this part one. First is: Forty-nine; Christ calms the storm. I think I’ve shared with you what the poet Coventry Patmore once wrote, a convert that “the highest function of the physical world is to provide analogies for understanding mysteries of faith.” “The highest function of the physical world is to provide analogies for understanding the mysteries of faith.” Christ called himself the Life. Don’t know what life is, so that we get some understanding…


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