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There are so many connections in this prayer, that it’s kind of exciting: abundance, surpass, and pour out, which from the Latin form of the prayer means pour out, over, above, and even waste. These are perfect adjectives that show us the lavishness and generosity of God.
And notice the connections between the Who and the Do:
1) “the abundance of God’s kindness surpass our merits” and his pouring out of his "mercy upon us to pardon what conscience dreads.” Not even our greatest merits could ever earn God’s mercy. Our merits are our attempts, our successes. They could even be those times we failed, those things that our conscience dreads, and when we ask, His mercy will be poured out lavishly over us. We can’t earn it, what he gives us is all grace, a gift.
2) What about our “desires” or those things we want but our “prayer does not dare to ask”? Have you ever wanted to ask God for something but were afraid? Think about why that would be. Maybe we were afraid that we were asking too much. Or perhaps we may think we don’t deserve something. Maybe you have been like me and you don’t want to ask God for something because you don't know if you want to know his answer.
But Paul’s letter to the Philippians (4:6-9), our second reading this weekend, gives us hope and confidence to ask, “Brothers and sisters: Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.” When we ask, we ask in thanksgiving for every thing. Look what happens when we separate those two words - every thing. It’s not just everything in general. It is every thing that’s a desire, a fear, or for God’s forgiveness. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding, and as St. John Chrysostom wrote, this peace “shall guard us in Him, so that you may remain firm, and not fall from His faith.” (St. John Chrysostom)
What speaks to you in this prayer? Do you need to talk to God about your merits or your desires? Maybe we need to go to him and ask for his pardon.
Pray for the courage to ask for forgiveness for those things your conscience dreads and be sure to bring them to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. There, you will truly feel the abundance of God’s kindness.
Thanks for praying with me,