Choose a topic from Vol 3:


Reason proves God's existence
Primitive monotheism
Mystery of God's inner nature
Personality of God
Providence of God and the problem of evil


Immortal destiny of man
Can earth give true happiness?
Do human souls evolve?
Is transmigration possible?
Animal souls
Freedom of will
Free will and faith


Religion and God
The duty of prayer
The mysteries of religion
Can we believe in miracles?

The Religion of the Bible

Historical character of the Gospels
Canonical Books of the Bible
Original Manuscripts
Copyists' errors
Truth of the Bible
New Testament "contradictions"

The Christian Religion

Christianity alone true
Not the product of religious experience
Compared with Buddhism, Confucianism, Mahometanism, Bahaism, etc.,
Rejected by modern Jews
The demand for miracles
The necessity of faith
Difficulties not doubts
Proofs available
Dispositions of unbelievers

A Definite Christian Faith

One religion not as good as another
Changing one's religion
Catholic convictions and zeal
Religious controversy
The curse of bigotry
Towards a solution

The Problem of Reunion

Efforts at the reunion of the Churches
The Church of England as a "Bridge-Church"
Anglicans and the Greek Orthodox Church
The "Old Catholics" of Holland
Reunion Conferences
Catholic Unity
The Papacy as reunion center
Protestant hostility to Catholicism
The demands of charity

The Truth of Catholicism

Necessity of the Church
The true Church
Catholic claim absolute
A clerical hierarchy
Papal Supremacy
Temporal Power
Unity of the Church
Holiness of the Church
Catholicity of the Church
Catholic attitude to converts
Indefectible Apostolicity
Necessity of becoming a Catholic

The Church and the Bible

Catholic belief in the Bible
Bible-reading and private interpretation
Value of Tradition and the "Fathers"
Guidance of the Church necessary

The Dogmas of the Catholic Church

Dogmatic certainty
Credal statements
Faith and reason
The voice of science
Fate of rationalists
The dogma of the Trinity
Creation and evolution
The existence of angels
Evil spirits or devils
Man's eternal destiny
The fact of sin
Nature and work of Christ
Mary, the mother of God
Grace and salvation
The sacraments
Holy Eucharist
The Sacrifice of the Mass
Holy Communion
Marriage and divorce
Extreme Unction
Man's death and judgment
Resurrection of the body
End of the World

Moral Teachings of the Catholic Church

Catholic intolerance
The Spanish Inquisition
Prohibition of Books
Liberty of worship
Forbidden Socieities
Church attendance
The New Psychology
Deterministic philosophy
Marriage Legislation
Birth Prevention
Monastic Life
Convent Life
Legal defense of murderers
Laywers and divorce proceedings
Judges in Divorce
Professional secrecy

The Church in Her Worship

Why build churches?
Glamor of ritual
The "Lord's Prayer"
Pagan derivations
Liturgical symbolism
Use of Latin
Intercession of Mary and the Saints

The Church and Social Welfare

The Church and Education
The Social Problem
Social Duty of the Church
Catholicism and Capitalism

The duty of prayer

80. Religion involves the whole question of prayer, and for my part prayer is both unreasonable and useless.

Apart from the obtaining of benefits, by prayer we express our love of God, and our gratitude to Him, as also our sorrow and regret for such sins as we have committed against Him. But also prayer is a normal and intelligent means by which we obtain many blessings from God, together with His protection and consolation in difficulties. Prayer is neither unreasonable nor useless.

81. How can prayer be reasonable?

Reason itself dictates the necessity of prayer. Reason tells you that you are not the author of your own existence, that you owe your origin, as does the whole human race, to an outside Cause Who is more intelligent than the creatures of His own making. Every man also, who is not mentally deficient, knows that he himself is limited in a thousand ways, in size, in strength, in mind and will. Man is small, weak, ignorant, and inconstant. Enabled by reason to realize these imperfections, man is impelled by reason to appeal to, and rely upon his Maker for the help and protection necessary lest his defects should lead to disaster. Prayer to his Maker is as natural to man as the instinct of a child to turn to its parents for help. All creatures, of course, are subject to such limitations. But man alone is conscious of them, and, therefore, rational people alone are given to prayer. Brute animals do not pray. It is irrational not to pray.

82. If there be a God, it should not be necessary to tell Him of our needs.

We do not pray in order to inform God of our needs. We pray to fulfill a condition laid down by God for our own sakes. God demands of us the humility which acknowledges our dependence on Him, and the confidence which acknowledges Him as our Father. Even earthly parents, who know their children's wants, and intend to supply them, insist that they ask respectfully for what they need. It is in a child's own interest that it should be trained to behave properly.

83. Is it not more generous to give spontaneously than to wait to be asked? If God be supremely generous, it is an insult to Him to implore Him to give us anything.

It would not be more generous on God's part to give us all we need without waiting to be asked. God has, of course, given us very many things without any request from us. But it would not be more generous to do that always. It is more generous to secure our still greater good by making us ask. And even apart from our training in religious behavior, it is a great happiness and privilege to be allowed to converse with God concerning our own interests.

84. If God is unchangeable, can you hope to change Him by fervent appeals?

God is unchangeable. But prayer is itself part of God's unchangeable providence. He has decreed that many benefits will depend upon our praying for them. We shall get them if we ask for them; if we do not pray we shall not receive them. The change is not in God.

85. How can I pray when I cannot feel sure that anyone is listening to me?

How do you want to feel sure that God is listening to you? What type of evidence do you want? Do you want the certainty you have of the existence of a speaker when you hear his voice from your radio set? If so, you will want in vain. But man is not limited to his senses, as are mere animals. By reason he can attain to the knowledge of a truth not accessible to the senses. Take the truth of thought. Were a dog sitting near you, it would hear the sounds of a human voice as you hear them with your ears. But it certainly could not grasp the truth conveyed by those sounds. Your reason can rise to a perception of a reality which is above and beyond any powers of sense-perception. If you cannot feel sure of God's existence and knowledge merely because He is invisible and inaudible so far as your senses are concerned, you abdicate as a reasonable person, and descend to the lower level of irrational creatures. Your very expression, "I cannot feel sure," is unfortunate. For feelings belong to our sensitive natures, not to our rational natures. We don't believe things with our feelings. We believe them with our minds.

86. But supposing even my reason gives me no certain conviction?

Even then you could still pray. If you are not certain that God does hear you. you are not certain that He does not. But if you thought it only possible that He hears you, you could quite reasonably pray, even if you did so like the famous agnostic, "O God, if there be a God, save my soul, if I have one." But apart from your own mental state, there are many considerations which intensify the reasonable character of prayer for you. If, on a given day, there was to be a huge meeting in a city hall, and you came from the country to attend that meeting, but did not know where the hall was situated, you would quite reasonably adopt the same line of conduct adopted by the crowds of people all flocking in the one direction. So. too, despite your uncertainty, you see crowds of people who are not in the least uncertain, and who give themselves to prayer, convinced that their prayers are heard by Him to whom they pray. And not all these people are fools by any means. You will admit that Marconi was a very clever man, a genius at experimental science, and a great contributor to the possibility of the radio transmission we enjoy today. Yet he says of prayer, "I believe it would be a great tragedy if men were to lose their faith in prayer. Without the help of prayer I might perhaps have failed where I have succeeded. In allowing me to attain whatI have done, God has made of me merely an instrument of His own will, for the revelation of His own divine power." The very certainty of so many other intelligent men, and their conviction as to the efficacy of prayer, make it quite reasonable for you to adopt the practice also.

87. But if God knows that I will commit a sin, it's no use praying that I won't.

God's knowledge can be left out of your question, for that knowledge does not affect your conduct. If He knows that you are going to commit a sin, it is because you will choose to commit it. However, you may ask what is the use of prayer, if you will as a matter of fact fall into sin after all. In the first place, since you will not be compelled to commit that sin. there is at least less likelihood that you will do so with the help of special graces due to prayer than without them. But supposing that you do so? Even then the prayer was not useless. In itself it was a meritorious act of religion prior to the sin. Even granted the sin, you would probably have been far worse on the occasion than you would have been had you not prayed. And in virtue of the previous prayer God would give you the grace to repent more quickly and sincerely of your fault.

88. For centuries humanity has prayed to God for deliverance from floods, famines, plagues, and distress; but God has ever been silent.

You can't gulp down the whole of humanity like that. For centuries some men have cursed God; some have simply ignored God; and some have prayed to God. Humanity as a whole has not prayed to God for deliverance from evils. And amongst those who have prayed, many have done so in order to praise God, or to thank God, or to repair their sins against God, or to ask spiritual graces from Him. Prayer is not confined to the asking of temporal benefits only.But even if you restrict your question to prayer for temporal favors, thousands would rise in protest, and prove to you that prayers for temporal favors have been granted far more often than can be explained by mere coincidence. All that Christians claim as regards prayer for temporal favors is that such prayers are sometimes heard in the way we wish when God knows that the granting of our request will be really for our good. Prayer of petition is not the kind of penny-in-the-slot machine by which we obtain just what we specify as we would obtain a box of matches.

89. God allows war to continue, though people of all religious denominations pray to Him to stop it.

If the sufferings caused by war were entirely useless, it might be more difficult to answer that problem. But if men can benefit by such sufferings, a good God could certainly permit them; and if men deserved them, His justice cannot be blamed. Men do deserve such sufferings; and indeed mankind as a whole deserves more than it gets in the way of suffering. See the flood of iniquity in the world, and ask yourself whether men deserve that all things should flatter their desires. If people prayed that the war should stop, then the fact that the war moved some people to prayers they would not otherwise have said was already a good result. And prayer did produce remarkable results in various individuals during the war. If it did not make all combatants cease fighting at the various moments, various unbelievers thought the war ought to end, that fact does not imply that prayer was useless.

90. Will the prayers of one in a state of sin be heard by God?

Every sincere and earnest prayer, no matter by whom it is said, will be heard by God. Prayer is, in itself, an act of religion as well as a petition. Normally, as an act of religion, it is meritorious just as any other good work. But as a person in a state of serious sin cannot merit before God, in the sinner's case no merit attaches to his prayer. But, whilst no merit attaches to his prayer, it retains value as a petition. And the petition will certainly be granted if it be for the grace to be converted and to resist further sin. If the petition be for temporal favors, such as the recovery of bodily health, or for some other earthly advantage, the petition will be granted provided God sees that it will not prove a hindrance to the petitioner's spiritual welfare.

91. If prayer is necessary for conversion, how will one reform who finds it impossible to pray?

Prayer is never really impossible. I admit that one who has long neglected prayer will find little taste for it, and, therefore, will find it difficult. But, despite the difficulty, he should take up his prayers once more, if necessary with the help of a prayer book, trying to mean the prayers he recites. As a child learns to walk by walking, so we learn to pray by praying. Facility will come with practice. And as his prayers increase in earnestness, so will a man receive ever more abundant graces from God to help him in his struggles against ingrained habits. God will give light to intensify his convictions, and strength to fortify his weak and inconstant will. If, then, a man persists in doing his own best to fight down acquired bad habits, and perseveres in his efforts at prayer, he will certainly succeed in the end in the desire to reform his life.



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