Section IV of the Catechism of the Catholic Church does a wonderful job of opening up this reality to the faithful:
Christian prayer is a covenant relationship between God and man in Christ. It is the action of God and of man, springing forth from both the Holy Spirit and ourselves, wholly directed to the Father, in union with the human will of the Son of God made man. (CCC 2564)St. Paul wrote about this aspect of our prayer in Romans:
The prayer of Jesus makes Christian prayer an efficacious petition. He is its model, he prays in us and with us. (CCC 2740)
... the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words. And he who searches the hearts of men knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. (Rom.8:26-27)And to my great surprise, St. Patrick of Ireland wrote specifically on this topic! In his Confession, he recounted two mystical experiences:
And another night - God knows, I do not, whether within me or beside me -in most learned words I heard those whom I could not understand, except that at the end of the prayer one spoke out thus, “He who gave his life for you, he it is who speaks within you.” And thus I awoke, joyful.
And on a second occasion I saw Him praying within me, and I was as it were, inside my own body , and I heard Him above me - that is, above my inner self. He was praying powerfully with sighs. And in the course of this I was astonished and wondering, and I pondered who it could be who was praying within me. But at the end of the prayer it was revealed to me that it was the Spirit. And so I awoke and remembered the Apostle's words, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we know not how to pray as we ought. But the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for utterance." And again: "The Lord our advocate intercedes for us.”
Jesus at prayer within Patrick, through the Holy Spirit! Jesus at prayer within you and me, in the same way! There's something to meditate on as we head into St. Patrick's Day weekend.
Please get to know the real St. Patrick this week. Check out his Confession, his spiritual autobiography, and call into EWTN Radio this Saturday (March 16th) between Noon and 1 p.m. Central, to share your thoughts. Dr. Kevin Vost and I are looking forward to hearing from you!