I have not had the most edifying Lent. I have allowed distractions and the passing things of this world to take me away from the reflections that should be a part of this holiest time of the year. As I write this, I feel like I have wasted this chance to become closer to Our Lord Jesus as we enter into this week that changed the world forever. My goal and the goal of every Christian should be to refocus on Him in these waning days of Lent.
Let me make a suggestion for this week that I am going to try to follow myself.
At one point, several years ago I came across a spiritual gem that helped my prayer life that is the Jesus Prayer, but it’s not the Jesus prayer that is common to our Eastern Orthodox brethren. It’s located, surprisingly, in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The most common formula for the prayer is “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God have mercy on me a sinner.” The following excerpt is from the Catechism published during the historic pontificate of John Paul II which makes a slight variation to this ancient prayer that appeals to me.
In Part Four, regarding the Jesus prayer, it states, “The most usual formulation, transmitted by the spiritual writers of the Sinai, Syria, and Mt. Athos, is the invocation, ‘Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us sinners.’ It combines the Christological hymn of Philippians 2:6-11 with the cry of the publican and the blind men begging for light. By it, the heart is opened to human wretchedness and the Savior’s mercy.”
This slight modification of the prayer from singular to plural makes the world of difference to me. Instead of the prayer being focused on us individually, we can turn it outward, to family, friends, and even to all people. I’m not suggesting that the formula used by our Orthodox friends is wrong, but in my case, it makes it more universal, like the Catholic Church.
It is also personal, I have three young children, two of whom are on the autism spectrum. My days are spent thinking of them, praying for their future, and caring for their brother who provides care and love to them. It is important for me to gather the three of them and my wife under Our Lord’s saving Name.
In a world where glittering things distract us from pursuing a more interior life and Our Lord Jesus, invoking the name of the Savior is the most efficacious way to pray and reconnect with Jesus, our Hope.
A wonderful booklet entitled The Wonders of the Holy Name by the late Father Paul O’Sullivan O.P. (E.D.M) details the powerful things wrought by uttering the name of Jesus. Fr. O’Sullivan states, “The Name of Jesus is the shortest, the easiest and the most powerful of prayers. Everyone can say it, even in the midst of his daily work. God cannot refuse it.”
Father O’Sullivan calls St. Paul the “preacher and doctor of the Holy Name.” He pointed out in his helpful booklet that Paul tapped into the power of the Holy Name of Jesus and told us to do the same. For it was Paul who informed us that “Whatever you do in word or work, do all in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ”.
This week is about what Jesus did and continues to do for us. Let us us tap into that power and invoke His Name for us and for our loved ones. “Lord Jesus Christ Son of God have mercy on us sinners”.