Piety and Devotion
Presence of God – O God, our Father, infuse into my soul the true spirit of piety and devotion.
The Christian religion is not limited to the simple relations of the creature with the Creator, relations which, given the infinite distance between them, would remain only within the sphere of reverence and homage, without any character of intimacy, without any confidential impetus toward God. A Christian knows that he is bound to God for other reasons than those of creation, strong though these may be—he has been redeemed from sin and raised to a supernatural state. A Christian is conscious of the fact that he is not only a creature but a child of God, redeemed by Christ; and this gives to all his relations with God that quality of filial piety, which is the very soul of his religion. Let us contemplate Jesus in His relations with God; He knows He is a Son, a Son who lives for the Father who has given Him existence. “The Father hath sent Me … and I live by the Father” (John 6:58); a Son who has no other ideal than to do His Father’s will, to which He adheres with all the strength of His Heart: “Yea, Father, for so hath it seemed good in Thy sight” (Matthew 11:26); a Son who in all His actions, seeks only to please His Father: “I do always the things that please Him” (John 8:29). Jesus, the only-begotten of the Father, the only Son of God by nature, has by grace made us sharers in His divine filiation, so that “we should be called and should be the sons of God” (1 John 3:1). If we are sons of God, then it is right that we, too, strive to share Christ’s dispositions of filial piety toward His heavenly Father. For it is this which truly characterizes our religion as given to us by our divine Master: “Thus, shall you pray: Our Father, who art in heaven” (Matthew 6:9). He wishes us to consider and invoke God as our Father: the Father who provides for all our needs; the Father who wishes us to pray to Him in secret, and who in secret will hear our prayers; the Father who sees all our actions, even the most hidden ones, and who is preparing a reward for them; the Father who wishes us to honor Him by keeping His commandments, and who is pleased to make His abode in the souls of those who love Him. The divine paternity is the center of the Christian religion, and to this paternity should correspond, on our part, an attitude of deep filial piety. We should love God as a child loves its father, trying to please Him in all things. Piety is truly the heart of our religion.
O Most High God, You have willed to be my Father; grant that I may really be Your child, a loving, devoted child, attentive and docile to every manifestation of Your will, desiring to serve and please You in everything. O You, who have a Father’s heart for me, create in me the heart of a child, a heart free from servile fear, but rich in filial fear, a disinterested, generous heart which has but one fear: the fear of offending You, and but one desire: that of pleasing You.
“May Your will be my will, my passion, my honor! Grant that I may seek it, find it, and accomplish it. Show me Your ways, point out to me Your paths. O Father, You have Your designs over me. Show them to me clearly and grant that I may follow them so as to obtain the salvation of my soul. Apart from You, may every joy be bitter to me. May I have no desire or rest but in You. May every work undertaken for You be sweet.
“Let my piety not be merely mechanical, but a continual impulse of my heart … and grant that my spirit, which is incapable of not knowing You, be ardent in seeking You, and know how to find You, O most loving Father.
“Ah! let not my words displease You! Grant that, trustful and calm, I may await Your answer, relying on Your word!” (St. Thomas).
Receive me, O Father, in Your embrace; admit me to intimacy with You! Grant, I beseech You, that my heart may never wander when You leave it in darkness and distress; but sustained with Your grace, may it persevere in seeking and serving You with good will.
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Art: Modified Detail of The Trinity, artist not identified, GFreihalter photographer 30 April 2011, CCA-SA 3.0 Unported, Wikimedia Commons; Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, mirror from open source material.