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What Conscience Dreads and Prayer Dares Not Ask
Archdiocese of Washington ^ | 10-11-18 | Msgr. Charles Pope

Posted on 10/12/2018 9:03:03 AM PDT by Salvation

What Conscience Dreads and Prayer Dares Not Ask

October 11, 2018

The Collect (Opening Prayer) for this week’s Masses (27th Week of the Year), though directed to God, teaches us that our prayer is not always about things with which we are comfortable. It sometimes leads us to examine areas of our life in which we struggle with sin or we struggle to desire to be free of sin. Here is the prayer:

Almighty ever-living God,
who in the abundance of your kindness
surpass the merits and the desires of those who entreat you,
pour out your mercy upon us
to pardon what conscience dreads
and to give what prayer does not dare to ask.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.

After asking for God’s mercy and acknowledging that He offers us more than our minds can grasp, we make the following two requests:

[May you] pardon what conscience dreads.

The Catechism states the following regarding our conscience:

Deep within his conscience man discovers a law which he has not laid upon himself but which he must obey. Its voice, ever calling him to love and to do what is good and to avoid evil, sounds in his heart at the right moment. For man has in his heart a law inscribed by God. His conscience is man’s most secret core and his sanctuary. There he is alone with God whose voice echoes in his depths (# 1776).

Our conscience is not merely what we think or what it pleases us to think; it is the voice of God echoing in our depths. Whatever rationalizations we use to try to suppress our conscience, the voice of God still calls us deep inside. Deep down, we know very well what we are doing and we know when it is wrong. No matter how many “teachers” we find who will tell us what our ears want to hear, that voice is still there.

I suspect that this is why the world and its devotees are so angry at the Catholic Church—we remind them of what God says. If our teachings were merely regarded as outdated opinions, the world would not hate us, would not be at war with us. No matter how emphatically people deny that their consciences trouble them, deep down inside they know better. The louder these denials, the less we should be convinced. Why are they forever insisting that the Church change her teachings? If we’re just a pathetic and outdated institution, why do they care what we teach? Because deep down they know that we are right and do not like to be reminded of it.

Our words, the words of Christ, touch something; they prick the conscience and remind people of things they know inside but would rather forget. The voice of God echoes within, convicting them and inciting within them a godly dread of sin and its ultimate consequences.

This is true for believers as well, who, though not as openly hostile, would still prefer to avoid the voice of their conscience and do not enjoy the holy dread of sin it engenders. Note that not all sorrow for sin is from God. St. Paul distinguishes godly sorrow (which draws one to God for healing) from worldly sorrow (which deflates the sinner and has him despair of God’ healing love or of being able to change). The proper dread that conscience incites is always a call of love from God, who bids us to repent and return to Him.

Still, we avoid what conscience dreads. Who likes to experience fear or negative feelings?

However, prayer must often ask us to look honestly at the less pleasing things in our life. This prayer bids us to listen to the dread of conscience (dread of sin and of its due punishments) and to seek pardon.

[May you] give what prayer does not dare to ask.

Some argue that the translation of this clause is not a good one. The Latin used is quod oratio non praesumit. Some prefer a softer translation in which the phrase asks God to give us the things that we are not worthy of requesting, things we do not presume to ask for because it would be too bold for us to do so. Such a translation does not offend the Latin text but does seem to miss the overall context: asking God to help us to overcome personal resistance.

We have already seen how and why many of us resist what conscience dreads and would rather be not hear the voice of God echoing inside, but consider that we resist asking for many things out of fear.

The classic example of this is St. Augustine’s request that God make him chaste … but not yet! Though he could see the value of chastity, Augustine enjoyed his promiscuity and was afraid to ask the Lord to remove something he liked.

There are many things we dare not ask for because we fear actually getting them. The attitude is “Ask not lest ye be answered”! For example, many are not ready to be chaste or to be more generous; they fear the changes that such things would bring. In such situations perhaps one could pray, “Lord, if I’m not chaste, at least give me the desire to be chaste,” or “Lord, if I don’t share sufficiently with the poor, at least give me the desire to do be more generous.” If we begin to desire what God is offering, we will be more chaste and generous we want to be. The fear of what prayer does not dare to ask abates. Then we are ready to ask God for what He really wants to give us.

The prayer is asking us to look at our resistance and fear and to pray out of that very experience rather than suppressing or denying it.

Consider well, then, the beautiful, though difficult and daring invitation of this prayer. Though directed to God, it also bids us to look within and to admit our fears and our resistance.

TOPICS: Apologetics; Catholic; History; Theology
KEYWORDS: catholic
**[May you] pardon what conscience dreads.
[May you] give what prayer does not dare to ask.**
1 posted on 10/12/2018 9:03:03 AM PDT by Salvation
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To: nickcarraway; NYer; ELS; Pyro7480; livius; ArrogantBustard; Catholicguy; RobbyS; marshmallow; ...

Monsignor Pope Ping!

2 posted on 10/12/2018 9:06:01 AM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation
There are many things we dare not ask for because we fear actually getting them.

There are some things so close to our sense of self, our identity, that we don't see them as sin, we don't want to see them as sin, we don't believe we can ever give them up, we don't want to give them up.

And yet... if you put your life on the altar, God has a way of working in the background to set you free even of those things. If you are lucky, over time they simply fall away. If you are less lucky, (though still fortunate...), some crisis will come that will force them out of your life.

The point is, God will take you as you are but he won't leave you as you are. If you are willing overall, he will over time rebuild you from the ground up.

And at a certain point, as Pope says, you lose your fear of letting him have his way. That's when trust really comes.

Pope is one of the best. Thank you for posting.

3 posted on 10/12/2018 9:33:46 AM PDT by marron
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To: Salvation
"I suspect that this is why the world and its devotees are so angry at the Catholic Church—we remind them of what God says."

No. That is not at all why the world is angry at the church of Rome. Not even close. If you don't understand why, then take a good look at your hypocritical leader. Look at your scandals. Look at the men's lives that your priests have ruined. Look at the men, women and children who were murdered at the hands of your Inquisitions.

Unless your God said that it was right for your church to do all of those vile things- which would make the church of Rome all the more insidious and toxic- then the writer of this vapid, frothy bit of self-aggrandizement is completely off the mark and needs to pull his head out of his dogma.

4 posted on 10/12/2018 12:02:43 PM PDT by 60Gunner (The price of apathy towards public affairs is to be ruled by evil men. - Plato)
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To: Salvation; marron

I am never disappointed, and often awe-struck, when I read the Msgr.’s essays.

This however, may be Pope at his finest! His insights, coupled with his writing skills, combine to make his words a clarion call...

Dóminus vobíscum

5 posted on 10/12/2018 12:05:27 PM PDT by heterosupremacist (Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God.)
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To: 60Gunner; Salvation
"I suspect that this is why the world and its devotees are so angry at the Catholic Church—we remind them of what God says."

No, perhaps it's because the world has more moral fiber and character than far too many Catholic priests and leadership.

I have yet to meet anyone in the world who is not appalled and horrified by the thought of what Catholic priests have done to minors over the course of centuries, with not only inaction, but the wink, wink, approval via cover up of Catholic hierarchy which refuses to deal with the issue.

Roman Catholicism cannot claim to be the martyr when they are not living the kind of holy lives that martyrs are persecuted for.

Jesus said we are blessed when the world persecuted us for HIS sake, not because of the rampant sin that even the world is disgusted by.

You are not a martyr when you are reaping in the whirlwind what you sowed int he wind.

6 posted on 10/12/2018 3:40:41 PM PDT by metmom ( ...fixing our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith......)
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To: heterosupremacist

I’m not catholic. I see Pope as a fellow Christian, and his columns are first-rate. Unfailingly deep, well written, and on the mark.

7 posted on 10/13/2018 11:52:06 AM PDT by marron
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