Friday, July 2, 2004

Christian Heritage - July 2 - Faith for Prayer

"This leper [in Matthew 8:2ff. -- EBB] is an excellent teacher of the right way to make petitions. He did not doubt the Lord's willingness through disbelief in his compassion, but neither did he take it for granted, for he knew the depths of his own sinfulness. Yet because he acknowledged that the Lord was able to cleanse him if he wished, we praise this declaration of firm faith just as we praise the Lord's mighty power. For obtaining a favor from God rightly depends as much on having a real living faith as on the exercise of the Creator's power and mercy. If faith is weak it must be strengthened, for only then will it succeed in obtaining health of body or soul. The apostle's words, purifying their hearts by faith referred, surely, to strong faith like this. And so, if the hearts of believers are purified by faith, we must give thought to this virtue of faith, for, as the apostle says, Anyone who doubts is like a wave in the sea.

"A faith shown to be living by its love, steadfast by its perseverance, patient by its endurance of delay, humble by its confession, strong by its confidence, reverent by its way of presenting petitions, and discerning with regard to their content - such a faith may be certain that in every place it will hear the Lord saying: I do want to."

Paschasius Radbertus (AD 785-860), Commentary on Matthew 5, 8: PL 120, 341-342

Interestingly, at the end of the first paragraph, Radbertus seems to be saying the book of James was written by "the apostle," St. Paul. Radbertus was a prolific writer and played a huge role in laying the groundwork for a more technical understanding of the transubstantial nature of the Eucharist as it came to be more fully developed in the Middle Ages.

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