A prayer or a wish? or Both?

Neither Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta NOR Pope John Paul II had ANYTHING to do with THIS internet forward (although their photos are often included)

 

Powerful "Novena" forward - Christian or "New Age"

Net Abbey home page             
NOTE: this letter was sent to me in answer to the forward which comes around every so often... it typically says it's some kind of "Novena" and often is forwarded with a photo of Mother Teresa of Calcutta or John Paul II... I first received it in 2002 or so.... Since then, I receive it regularly and although it changes a bit every time it circulates, it typically includes some prayer but emphasizes wealth or some other worldly thing which we are asked to wish for and then, spam our friends with the email and if we "don't break the chain" our wish will come true (the email promises) in 4 days.  (It says the chain has never been broken but *I* have broken the chain several times with no success in stopping the forward - like the bad penny, it just pops up again later on) :)

I questioned it from the get-go because it didn't sound Christian (or Catholic) at all to me since it talked about making a wish and sounded like a chain letter. A few years ago, I received the following letter from a person who apparently found my website and did some research on this:

Sue,

I was also e-mailed this prayer by a friend and decided to do a web search on it's origins. That is how I found your page. I'm writing you because as a Catholic I feel it's my duty to warn other Christians (Catholic and non-catholic alike) not only is this prayer not Catholic, it is not even Christian. Firstly, I too found no support for this being a St. Theresa prayer. Further more it is NOT a novena. A novena is a prayer said for a set duration, sometimes at a set time of day. It is Not a prayer that must be said because someone's stop watch started ticking! It is NOT said for unspecified "luck" or fortune. It is said as a petition for a saint to join their prayers with you to God for a specific need.

Secondly, your request is not said "before you read it". It is not like some birthday candle thing! Legitimate prayer incorporates your request either as an intention dwelled upon during the prayer or as a petition given at a specific point in the prayer. (an example is a person's intentions prayed for before praying the rosary.

Thirdly, my understanding of this time element of a novena (which I believe comes from Latin for 9 because it was originally a prayer said over 9 days) is to make the prayer your priority during this time and allowing you to focus more intently on your prayer. (as opposed to just praying it when it's convenient to fit in.)

Finally, Look at the conditions! Prayers don't carry "chain letter language" about "Send this to X amount of people for Y to happen". This takes the ENTIRE dimension of PRAYER and PETITION to God out of the entire picture! Both by you as an individual, and you in union with the body of Christ corporately {I.E. The saint's prayers joined with yours to God} are no longer the critical factor. Your sending this message to X people in Y minutes becomes the determination of success and NOT the prayer and petition themselves! This is SALVATION BY WORKS! There is no element of faith in God involved here only the threat that if YOU don't DO exactly what is told then there will be failure!

Now let us then look at the prayer itself.

I. The prayer starts with "May today there be peace within".

This seems a harmless wish for peace. But looking at it we see that the presumption is a lack of peace within the person praying this. It also assumes that the people who you send it to must also lack this same peace. This sets in the mind of the person praying the impression that there is discord, most specifically inside themselves. The key here are the words "peace within". Christians normally wish for peace in general both within the person but also beyond the person to the entire body of Christ and to the world in general (including those who have yet to know Christ). Granted that interior peace is something we all strive for but in this prayer it is both the focus of desire and presumed to be absent. In light of this tone we find we are even MORE limited by the words "May today . . ." Again this seems harmless in itself but it still approaches the wish for peace as a limited refuge (I.E. Just give me today in peace). Christians look to union with God both in this life and in eternity as our goal.

While it is true that Christians suffer and pray for relief from that suffering that is NOT what this prayer originally advertises itself as. So we have a prayer that wants the person praying it to admit to being in discord inside themselves and looking for a temporary peace that is focused on today.

II. The second line says "May you trust your highest power that you are exactly where you are meant to be...."

Ask yourself what this line is really saying. Who are you trusting? Is it God and His power? Is it on God's authority? Is it even calling on a charism of God? The Holy Spirit dwelling in you? NO, it is an appeal to trust in YOUR highest power. YOUR authority is what you are called to rely on. This is insidious since ANY power we have is given by the grace of God and there is NO power in us that can possibly compare to even the least power (if there is such a thing) of God.

IT GETS WORSE!

WHAT is it that the prayer ask you to trust? Is it God's plan for you? His will for you? What He wants you to be? No. It asks you to trust that "you are exactly where you are meant to be"

On the surface it seems like an acceptance based on forbearance and endurance but when you think about what it says this is not the case! Again a key word plays a difference here. It is the word EXACTLY! This tells you that for today, for now, for the moment you are perfectly where you should be according to the plan set for your life. You have done what is right, according to the plan. Either there is no sin or if there is it was meant to be. (This is called double predestination. Things are because that is the way God for ordained it to be so just live with it! It's God's will and it's all good!)

This goes against every Gospel message that calls us to repentance, reform and desire to strive for the things of the Lord. The entire Bible is story about man's continued failure when he relies on himself. The Bible stresses mans constant need for God.

Instead of asking God for His graces to be where He wants you to be this prayer wants you to trust YOURSELF that you are ALREADY where you should EXACTLY (i.e. perfectly) be!

III. The next line says "May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith".

Again one word makes a world of difference. In this case it is a word that is MISSING. That word is GOD.

There ARE infinite possibilities born of faith. The problem is that they are NOT born of faith in God. What is the source and object of faith? It is in God. The God who created us and who, in Jesus Christ redeemed us. The God who wants us to live, by the means of His grace, perfectly in Him. scripture speaks of that which is predestined (the joys of heaven for the elect). While we are all called to be elect, our predestination of living this life in grace and coming to heaven is contingent (see St. Augustine) on our submitting to and working with His grace in Faith and Love.

The fallen angels saw infinite possibilities and had faith in THEIR OWN POWER! They also fell because of it. Prayer should focus us on doing God's will and experiencing the gifts of GOD that are born of Faith. Misplaced faith in things other than God can forfeit eternal salvation and lead to damnation!

IV. "May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you...."

While I could go on about gifts that are misused, I'll let this line go with minimal comment. Beside that fact that it gives no thanks to God, praise to God or acknowledgement to God for these gifts (remember we are appealing to OUR highest power in the context of this prayer), it is a feel good line that really says nothing.

V. "May you be content knowing you are a child of God...." This is again seems fine and orthodox but looking at it further in the context of this prayer, it again limits our focus to the AWARENESS of our being God's children! While the psalms may console us with things that give contentment, the realization of our adopted sonship and daughtership through the incarnation of Christ calls us to much more. It calls us to an imitation of Him. The prayer makes no mention of this. Look at what the rest of the prayer says.

VI. "Let this presence settle into our bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, It is there for each and every one of you...."

What presence? Is it's God's? No, it is the presence of an AWARENESS.

Who's awareness? Ours. It is the awareness of our status as children of God that the prayer calls to own and focus on. "Let this presence settle into our bones". Why? to "allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance". It calls for a liberation of our soul.

This begs the question, why is keeping our soul from singing and dancing already? From what does this highest power liberate us?

It can't be sin. (we've already denied that in line II) It can't be ourselves (line I says we are the solution, not the problem). It must be something outside of us!

Where is this prayer telling others to find this liberation? Is it in God? No, it is in each person individually and in themselves.

Some people may think I'm over-reacting but this is the same drivel fed us by our "neo-pagan", "pan-religious", "New Age spirituality" society today. For those who believe in those spiritualities that is fine, but if you are an orthodox Christian (I.E. you're not part of a cult or sect) and believe in the inerrancy of scripture, this is opposed to the facts of divine revelation.

Thank you for your time,

Yours in Christ,

Tom Kraemer

 




from:
http://www.atimealone.com/StTheresa.php  (note I cannot find this page up now - hopefully it is not "down" for good). :(