Prayer and Theology

Although the personal relationship of the theologian with God is a reality wider than prayer, since it necessarily involves the entire Christian life, nevertheless prayer is its conscious heart. The fourth-century theologian Father Evagrius of Pontus had a saying, “If you pray, you are a theologian.” The saying has been, perhaps, a little overexposed and not a little misunderstood. The term “theologian” here carries a somewhat specialized meaning. It really means someone who contemplates God as the Trinity. But at least we can echo Evagrius and say, “If you do not pray then you are not a theologian.” It is a necessary (though not a sufficient) condition for becoming a theologian (in the non-Evagrian sense) that one has some kind of prayerful quality to one’s life and thought. How we should understand this is a delicate business. Clearly, it is not the case that if we flop down in a church for half an hour a day we shall emerge from the pew reborn as a latter-day Duns Scotus. But continued exposure to God and a God-centered vision of reality brings a greater quality of intuitive ability when it comes to theological judgment. In other words, if two people who differ on some aspect of theology share a comparable theological culture, but one prays and the other has stopped praying, it is the one who still prays that we should be well advised to follow.

-Aidan Nichols, O.P., The Shape of Catholic Theology, p. 26



Deus est nobis refugium et virtus,
adiutorium in tribulationibus inventus est nimis.
Propterea non timebimus, dum turbabitur terra,
et transferentur montes in cor maris.
Fremant et intumescant aquae eius, conturbentur montes in elatione eius.
Fluminis rivi laetificant civitatem Dei,
sancta tabernacula Altissimi.
Deus in medio eius, non commovebitur;
adiuvabit eam Deus mane diluculo.
Fremuerunt gentes, commota sunt regna;
dedit vocem suam, liquefacta est terra.
Dominus virtutum nobiscum,
refugium nobis Deus Iacob.
Venite et videte opera Domini,
quae posuit prodigia super terram.
Auferet bella usque ad finem terrae,
arcum conteret et confringet arma
et scuta comburet igne.
Vacate et videte quoniam ego sum Deus:
exaltabor in gentibus et exaltabor in terra.
Dominus virtutum nobiscum,
refugium nobis Deus Iacob.

* * *

God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth should change,
though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble with its tumult.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved;
God will help her right early.
The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
The LORD of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our refuge.
Come, behold the works of the LORD,
how he has wrought desolations in the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow, and shatters the spear,
he burns the chariots with fire!
“Be still, and know that I am God.
I am exalted among the nations,
I am exalted in the earth!”
The LORD of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our refuge.

A Prayer for Life

Fetus Profile

O Mary,
bright dawn of the new world,
Mother of the living,
to you do we entrust the cause of life.
Look down, O Mother,
upon the vast numbers
of babies not allowed to be born,
of the poor whose lives are made difficult,
of men and women
who are victims of brutal violence,
of the elderly and the sick killed
by indifference or out of misguided mercy.

Grant that all who believe in your Son
may proclaim the Gospel of life
with honesty and love
to the people of our time.

Obtain for them the grace
to accept that Gospel
as a gift ever new,
the joy of celebrating it with gratitude
throughout their lives
and the courage to bear witness to it
resolutely, in order to build,
together with all people of good will,
the civilization of truth and love,
to the praise and glory of God,
the Creator and lover of life.

Through Christ our Lord,

(Composed by John Paul II)

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears my word and believes Him who sent me, has eternal life; he does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” (John 5:24)

Faith (Giotto)

* * *

Can we, as followers of Christ, be certain of our salvation? Or, put another way, are we assured eternal life in heaven by virtue of our Christian faith?

Since the Protestant Reformation, a significant number of Christians have answered this question with a resounding “yes.” And not without reason: many passages of Scripture (John 5:24, Romans 10:9-11, and Acts 16:31 in particular) appear to provide support for the position that faith in Christ is an unshakable guarantor of salvation.

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Born February 23rd, 1929; Died December 5th, 2008

Requiem æternam dona eis, Domine,
et lux perpetua luceat eis.
Te decet hymnus Deus, in Sion,
et tibi reddetur votum in Ierusalem.
Exaudi orationem meam;
ad te omnis caro veniet.
Requiem æternam dona eis, Domine,
et lux perpetua luceat eis.

Proposition 8


Thulcandra is not a political blog, nor will it ever be. I have opinions, which I like to hope are well-formed, on most of the important issues presently under discussion in our society; at the same time, I tend to approach temporal power and its associated mandates and limits as a necessary evil rather than something to be gloried in for its own sake. All of this is a fancy way of saying that, although I care (deeply, in certain cases) about what happens in the political sphere, I take little pleasure in debating the subject: the task is more of a cross to bear than anything else.

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Miserere mei, Deus: secundum magnam misericordiam tuam.
Et secundum multitudinem miserationum tuarum, dēlē iniquitatem meam.
Amplius lavā me ab iniquitate mea: et a peccato meo mundā me.
Quoniam iniquitatem meam ego cognōscō: et peccatum meum contra me est semper.
Tibi soli peccāvī, et malum coram te fēcī: ut iustificeris in sermonibus tuis, et vincās cum iudicaris.
Ecce enim in inquitatibus conceptus sum: et in peccatis concepit me mater mea.
Ecce enim veritatem dilexisti: incerta et occulta sapientiae tuae manifestasti mihi.
Asperges me, Domine, hyssopo, et mundābor: lavābis me, et super nivem dēalbābor.
Auditui meo dabis gaudium et laetitiam: et exsultabunt ossa humiliata.
Averte faciem tuam a peccatis meis: et omnes iniquitates meas dele.
Cor mundum crea in me, Deus: et spiritum rectum innova in visceribus meis.
Ne proiicias me a facie tua: et spiritum sanctum tuum ne auferas a me.
Redde mihi laetitiam salutaris tui: et spiritu principali confirma me.
Docebo iniquos vias tuas: et impii ad te convertentur.
Libera me de sanguinibus, Deus, Deus salutis meae: et exsultabit lingua mea iustitiam tuam.
Domine, labia mea aperies: et os meum annuntiabit laudem tuam.
Quoniam si voluisses sacrificium, dedissem utique: holocaustis non delectaberis.
Sacrificium Deo spiritus contribulatus: cor contritum, et humiliatum, Deus, non despicies.
Benigne fac, Domine, in bona voluntate tua Sion: ut aedificentur muri Ierusalem.
Tunc acceptabis sacrificium iustitiae, oblationes, et holocausta: tunc imponent super altare tuum vitulos.

* * *

Have mercy on me, O God, according to thy steadfast love;
According to thy abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!
For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.
Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done that which is evil in thy sight,
So that thou art justified in thy sentence and blameless in thy judgment.
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward being; therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Fill me with joy and gladness; let the bones which thou hast broken rejoice.
Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from thy presence, and take not thy holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of thy salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.
Then I will teach transgressors thy ways, and sinners will return to thee.
Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation,
And my tongue will sing aloud of thy deliverance.
O Lord, open thou my lips, and my mouth shall show forth thy praise.
For thou hast no delight in sacrifice; were I to give a burnt offering, thou wouldst not be pleased.
The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.
Do good to Zion in thy good pleasure; rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, then wilt thou delight in right sacrifices,
In burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings; then bulls will be offered on thy altar.