In the tradition of the Jewish people and in the heritage of our Christian faith, we could tie everything together about this next year by simply praying two prayers: the Lord’s Prayer and Psalm 82 (ESV shown below). And Joseph of Nazareth is the man who will show us the way. Allow me to explain…
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that G-d raised him from the dead, you will be saved.Romans 10:9
Declarations and the Psalms
Teach us How to Pray
How should we pray? Jesus’ disciples asked him that very same question. Jesus starts His instruction by saying “when you pray.” For the follower of Christ, prayer is not a matter of if, but when. That isn’t to say that prayer is some heartless command, rather it is the natural result of a belief in a personal Triune G-d.
What follows is what has come to be known as “The Lord’s Prayer” or “The Our Father” (a simple teaching trick to help the simple minded, as it marks the first words of the prayer and helps one to remember the rest). The prayer is recorded in both Luke 11:1-13 and Matthew 6:9-13.
While I certainly think it fruitful to pray the prayer verbatim, it is important to consider the concepts contained within the prayer.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (2771-2776) says “the Lord’s Prayer is truly the summary of the whole gospel.”
“Since the Lord . . . after handing over the practice of prayer, said elsewhere, ‘Ask and you will receive,’ and since everyone has petitions which are peculiar to his circumstances, the regular and appropriate prayer [the Lord’s Prayer] is said first, as the foundation of further desires.” STOP. Ponder that for a minute.
St. Augustine once said, “Run through all the words of the holy prayers [in Scripture], and I do not think that you will find anything in them that is not contained and included in the Lord’s Prayer.”
All the Scriptures – the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms – are fulfilled in Christ. The Gospel is this “Good News.” Its first proclamation is summarized by St. Matthew in the Sermon on the Mount; the prayer to our Father is at the center of this proclamation. It is in this context that each petition bequeathed to us by the Lord is illuminated:
“The Lord’s Prayer is the most perfect of prayers. . . . In it we ask, not only for all the things we can rightly desire, but also in the sequence that they should be desired. This prayer not only teaches us to ask for things, but also in what order we should desire them.” The Catechism continues:
“The Sermon on the Mount is teaching for life, the Our Father is a prayer; but in both the one and the other the Spirit of the Lord gives new form to our desires, those inner movements that animate our lives. Jesus teaches us this new life by his words; he teaches us to ask for it by our prayer. The rightness of our life in him will depend on the rightness of our prayer.” Read that last line again, slowly.
“The first communities prayed the Lord’s Prayer three times a day, in place of the “Eighteen Benedictions” customary in Jewish piety.”
“According to the apostolic tradition, the Lord’s Prayer teaches us to make prayer in common for all our brethren. For he did not say “my Father” who art in heaven, but “our” Father, offering petitions for the common body.”
The Catechism puts it this way, “The Lord’s Prayer sums up on the one hand all the petitions and intercessions expressed in the movement of the epiclesis and, on the other, knocks at the door of the Banquet of the kingdom which sacramental communion anticipates… . It is the proper prayer of “the end-time,” the time of salvation that began with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and will be fulfilled with the Lord’s return.”
It may surprise you to learn, on December 8th, the Pope made a significant declaration affirming this same truth when he declared this next year as “The Year of St. Joseph” (that is the Joseph of the New Testament and not the Old, the foster father of Jesus). Why is this so significant? For many prophetic reasons, actually, but the one relevant here is the fact that this Year of St. Joseph comes with a particular plenary indulgence. The plenary indulgence is granted to those who will meditate for at least 30 minutes on the Lord’s Prayer, or take part in a Spiritual Retreat of at least one day that includes a meditation on St. Joseph. “St. Joseph, an authentic man of faith, invites us”, the decree reads, “to rediscover our filial relationship with the Father, to renew fidelity to prayer, to listen and correspond with profound discernment to God’s will.” Read that again. Even the Pope seems to sense something major is about to happen in the year ahead and it requires the faithful to pray the Lord’s Prayer!
So next time you go to pray, try beginning with the words “Our Father” and let yourself ponder the “fullness” of every word to follow; reflect on the Truths of the Gospel they convey; resist the temptation to pray for your own “will be done,” and trust the Holy Spirit to guide you into Asking for what will truly bring the fulfillment of all desires. And then…watch for them to manifest… DECLARE: Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done!
Two Thousand Years Later, the Greatest Prayer Will Not Go Unanswered!
Psalm of the Year 5781
At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne…Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads.Revelation 4:2,4
In the Hebrew tradition, the Psalms play a very integral part in the rise and fall of a righteous jew. They are prayed (actually sung, as the old saying goes, “he who sings prays twice!”) each day in the tradition of Daily Tehillim at least three times every day: morning, noon and night. This tradition is also one the early Church continued and continues still today in various traditions like the Liturgy of the Hours and Liturgy of the Daily Mass (which also are usually sung). The Psalms are an integral part of the faith journey of many Jews, as they were to Jesus in his time, especially St. Joseph, and as they should be today for those who follow in his footsteps.
According to the Baal Shem Tov, everyone has a psalm (literally “song” in Hebrew) in the Book of Psalms—the one corresponding to his age. In the previous Head of the Year article, we saw how the theme of Psalm 81 manifested itself this past year quite astonishingly, “I am the Lord, your G-d, Who brought you up from the land of Egypt; open your mouth wide, and I shall fill it.” Thus, we could expect there to be a lot of declarations and prophetic words coming out of the mouths of the righteous, and these declarations will continue throughout the decade although they might manifest in different forms of declaration (click here to read the declarations for Hebrew Year 5780). Psalm 82, the verse for this year (5781), naturally follows a similar tone, although with some important distinctions.
According to Psalm 81, the year 2020, was a year to hearken to G-d, “Hearken, My people, and I shall admonish you, Israel, if you hearken to Me.” According to Psalm 82, the year 2021, is a year to trust in Jesus, the just Judge, “In the midst of the judges He will judge.”
|1A song of Asaph. G-d stands in the congregation of G-d; in the midst of the judges He will judge.||אמִזְמ֗וֹר לְאָ֫סָ֥ף אֱלֹהִ֗ים נִצָּ֥ב בַּֽעֲדַת־אֵ֑ל בְּקֶ֖רֶב אֱלֹהִ֣ים יִשְׁפֹּֽט:|
|2How long will you judge unjustly and favor the wicked forever?||בעַד־מָתַ֣י תִּשְׁפְּטוּ־עָ֑וֶל וּפְנֵ֥י רְ֜שָׁעִ֗ים תִּשְׂאוּ־סֶֽלָה:|
|3Judge the poor and orphan; justify the humble and the impoverished.||גשִׁפְטוּ־דָ֥ל וְיָת֑וֹם עָנִ֖י וָרָ֣שׁ הַצְדִּֽיקוּ:|
|4Release the poor and the needy; save [them] from the hands of [the] wicked.||דפַּלְּטוּ־דַ֣ל וְאֶבְי֑וֹן מִיַּ֖ד רְשָׁעִ֣ים הַצִּֽילוּ:|
|5They did not know and they do not understand [that] they will walk in darkness; all the foundations of the earth will totter.||הלֹ֚א יָֽדְע֨וּ | וְלֹ֬א יָבִ֗ינוּ בַּֽחֲשֵׁכָ֥ה יִתְהַלָּ֑כוּ יִ֜מּ֗וֹטוּ כָּל־מ֥וֹסְדֵי אָֽרֶץ:|
|6I said, “You are angelic creatures, and all of you are angels of the Most High.”||ואֲֽנִ֣י אָ֖מַרְתִּי אֱלֹהִ֣ים אַתֶּ֑ם וּבְנֵ֖י עֶלְי֣וֹן כֻּלְּכֶֽם:|
|7Indeed, as man, you will die, and as one of the princes, you will fall.||זאָכֵ֥ן כְּאָדָ֣ם תְּמוּת֑וּן וּכְאַחַ֖ד הַשָּׂרִ֣ים תִּפֹּֽלוּ:|
|8Arise, O G-d, judge the earth, for You inherit all the nations.||חקוּמָ֣ה אֱ֖לֹהִים שָׁפְטָ֣ה הָאָ֑רֶץ כִּֽי־אַתָּ֥ה תִ֜נְחַ֗ל בְּכָל־הַגּוֹיִֽם:|
In the Lord’s Prayer, we Plea for Mercy and declare:
the Father’s Divine Will
Thy Will be done.
on earth as it is in Heaven.
Likewise, in Psalm 82, we Plea for Justice and declare:
Jesus is the Just Judge who will judge Heaven and Earth
G-d has taken his place in the divine council;
in the midst of the gods he holds judgment:
Now is the time of summoning. Jesus calls, Repent!
“How long will you judge unjustly
and show partiality to the wicked? Selah
His desire is for justice for the oppressed
Give justice to the weak and the fatherless;
maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.
Let the children be saved!, Jesus cries from the cross.
Rescue the weak and the needy;
deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”
Forgive them, they know not what they do – Jesus answers the Father’s question to Cain after the murder of his brother, “What have you done?” (Genesis 4:10). His answer:
They have neither knowledge nor understanding,
they walk about in darkness;
all the foundations of the earth are shaken.
He reminds the council of men, G-d has made men in his image
I say, “You are gods,
sons of the Most High, all of you;
The unjust judges shall be judged and their sentence is death. Those who have led the sheep astray will be judged accordingly (Jn. 10:34-39).
nevertheless, you shall die like men, (some translations, “fall as one man”)
and fall like any prince.”
Upon hearing the decree of the Lord, the holy ones cry out for justice, Let the Day of the Lord Come!
Arise, O G-d, judge the earth;
for to thee belong all the nations!
Just as the right hand cannot be removed from the body, nor the left hand; the scriptures command when giving to the needy let not your left hand know what the right is doing, so too God’s right hand of Mercy and left hand of Justice are about their works today in our needy world. We can partner with them by bringing our two hands together and praying the Prayer of Mercy in the Lord’s Prayer and the Prayer of Justice found in the Psalms. Maybe you might like to try singing it too!
When your judgment dawns upon the earth, the world’s inhabitants learn justice.Isaiah 11:4-11; 26:9
Ite Ad Joseph!
It’s no surprise, given the course of events that have occurred this past year, that a great deal of injustice has been going on in the secret places. Now is not only the time for hidden things to come to light but it is also the time for St. Joseph, as Father Donald Calloway expresses in his book Consecration to St. Joseph: The Wonders of Our Spiritual Father. The son of David, as St. Joseph is called in Scriptures, set an example of fidelity in prayer and obedience and he did it all in silence, having never spoken a word in all of Scripture. Such silence is the sign of intimacy with the Father. It is in the silence that we hear G-d most clearly. This is a year to Widen our Mouths in Silence. We can learn a great deal from our spiritual father St. Joseph just as Jesus himself once did. Joseph is the bridge between the Old Testament and the New Testament fathers. He sets for us an example of fidelity and prayer in the Hebrew tradition while fostering the future of the Christian faith in his adoption of Jesus as one of his own by setting for us, and him, an example of obedience and faith in the Father. So let us turn our hearts in prayer and ask G-d to help us ponder and pray like St. Joseph. If you’ve never studied the life of this juggernaut of faith, I highly recommend Father Calloways book, a link to purchase it is available in our “Reading List“. Now is the time to Widen Our Mouths in Silence, Now is the time for St. Joseph. Ite Ad Joseph! Let the Day of the Lord Come!
Want to Go Deeper?
Be sure to read from the beginning of this 3-part look into the coming year, Part 1: A Year to Widen Your Mouth in Silence.
I have written before on the effects of movie evangelism on culture and agree with popular theologians like Christopher West and Bishop Robert Barron who offer their critiques of art in music, books and movies, even secular ones, as a way of drawing closer to the Logos who became flesh. If I could suggest another movie that sums up the challenge of the year ahead it would be the movie “A Quiet Place.” Whether you have seen it already, want to see it or don’t, I recommend checking out this 8 minute review from Logos Made Flesh. Another visual metaphor might be the film “Silence of the Lambs”, wherein the effects of naivety can be quickly seen as a detriment to uncovering Truth when we are too trusting of the narcissism prevalent around us.
If you enjoy reading, below is a list of sources I used and other recommended reading.
And then, there’s pop-culture icon Madonna’s Quavo – Eurovision Song Contest 2019 music video inculturation which might suggest she is a bit more of a musical prophet than her name suggests. She begins with her hit song from the past “Like a Prayer” and combines it with the futuristic dance moves of the Quavo dancers who, ironically, are all wearing masks to create what people are calling a “Dark Ballet” as she sings repeatedly, Not everyone is coming to the future. Click the link above to watch and hear.
The signs of our times are all around us, in art, tv, books, music, movies and even politics, if we’ll only open our ears and see what the Spirit is saying – we too could see and hear what’s coming…and who.
❤️💙💛 Until the Day Dawns – Love the ones you’re with and keep Jesus close, in the silence of your heart. Remember, in the end silence is about Love.
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Resources and Recommended Reading
Letters of Light by Aaron L. Raskin
The Letter Aleph by Torah for Christians
The Warning: Testimonies and Prophecies of the Illumination of Conscience by Christine Watkins
Lord Renew Your Wonders: Spiritual Gifts for Today by Damian Stayne
My Heart will Triumph by Mirjana Soldo, visionary from Medjugorje
Diary: Divine Mercy in My Soul by Sister Faustina Kowalska
33 Days to Merciful Love by Fr. Michael Gaitley
A Time to Advance: Understanding the Significance of the Hebrew Tribes and Months by Chuck Pierce and Robert & Linda Heidler
Deliverance Ministry by ICCRS Doctrinal Commission
Baptism in the Spirit by ICCRS Doctrinal Commission
Biblical Foundations for the Role of Healing in Evangelization by Matthias D. Thelen
The Spiritual Gifts Handbook: Using your gifts to build the Kingdom by Randy Clark & Mary Healy
Fulfillment of All Desire: Study Guide by Ralph Martin