Lenten Talks on Prayer
Introduction to Prayer: Christian Spirituality
Fr. Vince Huber, AVI
Introduction to Prayer
Luke 15: 11-32
 Before we talk about why we should pray or how to do it, first we must understand what
prayer is. Spiritual Theology (the study of the workings of the Holy Spirit within the human
heart) is founded upon Christology (and understanding of who God is as revealed by Jesus
 You can’t understand how to get to where you want to go, unless you first understand where
you are going and why you want to go there.
 So where are we going? And how does this make a difference for our spiritual life?
 Well to full understand this, we must look to Jesus, He reveals God to us, and He also reveals
our true identity.
 “The truth is that only in the mystery of the incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on
light. For Adam, the first man, was a figure of Him Who was to come, namely Christ the
Lord. Christ, the final Adam, by the revelation of the mystery of the Father and His love, fully
reveals man to man himself and makes his supreme calling clear.” (GS 22)
 (three circles) Jesus reveals to us that we are made for communion with God, and the only
thing that holds us back is sin.
 But how is communion with God possible for us who are finite creatures?
Sonship: Made in the Image and Likeness of God (the Foundation of Prayer)
 Key biblical concept: sonship – (Gen 1:26-27; 5:3) “The divine image is present in every
man.” (CCC 1702) Jesus shows us what it means to be created in the image and likeness of
God. “It is in Christ, ‘the image of the invisible God,’ (Col 1:15) that man has been created
‘in the image and likeness’ of the Creator.” (CCC 1701)
 This idea is scandalous, because to be a son means to be equal. A son is generated by his
father but is equal to him in dignity. Jesus gives us to share in God’s life, and gives us to
share the divine nature; He by nature, we by adoption and participation.
 In the eastern tradition, instead of the word holiness, they use the word “divinization”. In
Jesus we become divine by participation.
 For this reason Christian prayer is so unique. We don’t become God in the pantheistic sense,
but in the Jewish sense.
 Sonship is the Christian image par excellence. God is a Father, and the goal of any Father is
to see his son grow and become an adult. In Jesus, the Son par excellence, we receive the
power to grow, and we see what that growth looks like, especially in the Paschal mystery.
"For this is why the Word became man, and the Son of God became the Son of man: so that
man, by entering into communion with the Word and thus receiving divine sonship, might
become a son of God." -St. Irenaeus
 Love -- the ultimate reality that shines through in the Christian image of sonship. All that the
Father possesses he gives to the Son (Cf. Jn. 16:15), there is an equal exchange of persons, a
communion of persons. As sons, we are created to share in that divine communion.
Lenten Talks on Prayer
Introduction to Prayer: Christian Spirituality
Fr. Vince Huber, AVI
Happiness (the Why of Prayer)
 (the three images of the afterlife) If I ask the question, which image looks more attractive? I
assume everyone, if they are honest, would choose the middle image, being embraced by the
 Why do we pray? Because we desire to be happy and “you have created us for Yourself O
Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.”
 “Perseverance in mental prayer, according to the unanimous testimony of all the saints, is
the narrow gate that opens the Kingdom of Heaven to us; it is the only way for us to receive
the gifts which ‘no eye has seen, no ear has heard, nor has the heart of man conceived…’
(1Cor 2:9). Mental prayer is the source of true happiness. Whoever practices it faithfully will
not fail to ‘taste and see that the Lord is good’ (Ps 34).” – Jacques Philippe, Time for God
 It is impossible to prove why infinite love will make us happy, because it is intuitive. No one
chooses to desire to love and to be loved, but everyone does. It is the most innate human
 “Love is sufficient of itself, it gives pleasure by itself and because of itself. It is its own merit,
its own reward. Love looks for no cause outside itself, no effect beyond itself. Its profit lies in
its practice. I love because I love, I love that I may love.” – St. Bernard of Clairvaux
Love (the How of Prayer)
 This will be treated much more at length in the next 4 talks, here just a word.
 To know what prayer is and why it is so important should create a desire in us to pray and to
persevere. Desire is the key, the most important factor in learning how to pray.
 “Of all the movements, sensations and feelings of the soul, love is the only one in which the
creature can respond to the Creator and make some sort of similar return however unequal
though it be. For when God loves, all he desires is to be loved in return; the sole purpose of
his love is to be loved, in the knowledge that those who love him are made happy by their
love of him.” – St. Bernard of Clairvaux
 How can we possibly make a return to God of love when ours is so unequal?
 Stay tuned! This will be the topic of our next talk by Fr. Edward!
“I love you, O my God, and my only desire is to love you until the last breath of my life. I love
you, O my infinitely lovable God, and I would rather die loving you, than live without loving you.
I love you, Lord, and the only grace I ask is to love you eternally…My God, if my tongue cannot
say in every moment that I love you, I want my heart to repeat it to you as often as I draw
breath.” –St. John Vianney, Prayer