"Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life." John 6:68


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Wednesday of the Eleventh week in Ordinary Time
Commentary of the day
Blessed John Henry Newman (1801-1890), Cardinal, founder of the Oratory in England, theologian
Sermon « Times of Private Prayer », PPS, vol.1, no.19

"When you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret"

Those who seek the unseen God, seek him in their hearts and hidden thoughts, not in loud words, as if he were far off from them. Such men would retire from the world into places where no human eye saw them, there to meet him humbly and in faith, who is "about their path, and about their bed, and spieth out all their ways." And he, the Searcher of hearts (Rm 9,27), would reward them openly. Prayers uttered in secret, according to God's will, are treasured up in God's Book of Life (Ps 68[69],29). They seem, perhaps, to have sought an answer here, and to have failed. Their memory perishes even in the mind of the petitioner, and the world never knew of them. But God is ever mindful, and in the last day, when the books are opened (Dn 7,10; Rv 20,12), they shall be disclosed and rewarded before the whole world...

Now, we know well enough that we are bound to be in one sense in prayer and meditation all the day long (Lk 18,1). The question then arises... need we pray at certain times of the day in a set manner?... Though set times and forms of prayer are not absolutely necessary in private prayer, yet they are highly expedient; or rather, times are actually commanded us by our Lord in the text, "Thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet...” Even our Saviour had his peculiar seasons of communing with God. His thoughts indeed were one continued sacred service offered up to his Father; nevertheless, we read of his going up "into a mountain apart to pray," and again, of his "continuing all night in prayer to God" (Mt 14,23; Lc 6,12).

Now it is necessary to insist upon this duty of observing private prayer at stated times, because amid the cares and hurry of life men are very apt to neglect it: and it is a much more important duty than it is generally considered, even by those who perform it.

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