Utrum sit conveniens orare
Whether it is becoming to pray?
Ad secundum sic proceditur. Videtur quod non sit conveniens orare. Oratio enim videtur esse necessaria ad hoc quod intimemus ei a quo petimus id quo indigemus. Sed, sicut dicitur Matth. VI, scit pater vester quia his indigetis. Ergo non est conveniens Deum orare.
Objection 1: It would seem that it is unbecoming to pray. Prayer seems to be necessary in order that we may make our needs known to the person to whom we pray. But according to Matt. 6:32, Your Father knoweth that you have need of all these things. Therefore it is not becoming to pray to God.
Praeterea, per orationem flectitur animus eius qui oratur ut faciat quod ab eo petitur. Sed animus Dei est immutabilis et inflexibilis, secundum illud I Reg. XV, porro triumphator in Israel non parcet, nec poenitudine flectetur. Ergo non est conveniens quod Deum oremus.
Obj. 2: Further, by prayer we bend the mind of the person to whom we pray, so that he may do what is asked of him. But God’s mind is unchangeable and inflexible, according to 1 Kings 15:29, But the Triumpher in Israel will not spare, and will not be moved to repentance. Therefore it is not fitting that we should pray to God.
Praeterea, liberalius est dare aliquid non petenti quam dare petenti, quia, sicut Seneca dicit, nulla res carius emitur quam quae precibus empta est. Sed Deus est liberalissimus. Ergo non videtur esse conveniens quod Deum oremus.
Obj. 3: Further, it is more liberal to give to one that asks not, than to one who asks because, according to Seneca (De Benefic. ii, 1), nothing is bought more dearly than what is bought with prayers. But God is supremely liberal. Therefore it would seem unbecoming to pray to God.
Sed contra est quod dicitur Luc. XVIII, oportet orare, et non deficere.
On the contrary, It is written (Luke 18:1): We ought always to pray, and not to faint.
Respondeo dicendum quod triplex fuit circa orationem antiquorum error. Quidam enim posuerunt quod res humanae non reguntur divina providentia. Ex quo sequitur quod vanum sit orare, et omnino Deum colere. Et de his dicitur Malach. III, dixistis, vanus est qui servit Deo. Secunda fuit opinio ponentium omnia, etiam in rebus humanis, ex necessitate contingere, sive ex immutabilitate divinae providentiae, sive ex necessitate stellarum, sive ex connexione causarum. Et secundum hos etiam excluditur orationis utilitas. Tertia fuit opinio ponentium quidem res humanas divina providentia regi, et quod res humanae non proveniunt ex necessitate, sed dicebant similiter dispositionem divinae providentiae variabilem esse, et quod orationibus et aliis quae ad divinum cultum pertinent dispositio divinae providentiae immutatur. Haec autem omnia in primo libro improbata sunt. Et ideo oportet sic inducere orationis utilitatem ut neque rebus humanis, divinae providentiae subiectis, necessitatem imponamus; neque etiam divinam dispositionem mutabilem aestimemus.
I answer that, Among the ancients there was a threefold error concerning prayer. Some held that human affairs are not ruled by Divine providence; whence it would follow that it is useless to pray and to worship God at all: of these it is written (Mal 3:14): You have said: He laboreth in vain that serveth God. Another opinion held that all things, even in human affairs, happen of necessity, whether by reason of the unchangeableness of Divine providence, or through the compelling influence of the stars, or on account of the connection of causes: and this opinion also excluded the utility of prayer. There was a third opinion of those who held that human affairs are indeed ruled by Divine providence, and that they do not happen of necessity; yet they deemed the disposition of Divine providence to be changeable, and that it is changed by prayers and other things pertaining to the worship of God. All these opinions were disproved in the First Part (Q. 19, AA. 7, 8; Q. 22, AA. 2, 4; Q. 115, A. 6; Q. 116). Wherefore it behooves us so to account for the utility of prayer as neither to impose necessity on human affairs subject to Divine providence, nor to imply changeableness on the part of the Divine disposition.
Ad huius ergo evidentiam, considerandum est quod ex divina providentia non solum disponitur qui effectus fiant, sed etiam ex quibus causis et quo ordine proveniant. Inter alias autem causas sunt etiam quorundam causae actus humani. Unde oportet homines agere aliqua, non ut per suos actus divinam dispositionem immutent, sed ut per actus suos impleant quosdam effectus secundum ordinem a Deo dispositum. Et idem etiam est in naturalibus causis. Et simile est etiam de oratione. Non enim propter hoc oramus ut divinam dispositionem immutemus, sed ut id impetremus quod Deus disposuit per orationes sanctorum esse implendum; ut scilicet homines postulando mereantur accipere quod eis omnipotens Deus ante saecula disposuit donare, ut Gregorius dicit, in libro dialogorum.
In order to throw light on this question we must consider that Divine providence disposes not only what effects shall take place, but also from what causes and in what order these effects shall proceed. Now among other causes human acts are the causes of certain effects. Wherefore it must be that men do certain actions, not that thereby they may change the Divine disposition, but that by those actions they may achieve certain effects according to the order of the Divine disposition: and the same is to be said of natural causes. And so it is with regard to prayer. For we pray not that we may change the Divine disposition, but that we may impetrate that which God has disposed to be fulfilled by our prayers, in other words that by asking, men may deserve to receive what Almighty God from eternity has disposed to give, as Gregory says (Dial. i, 8).
Ad primum ergo dicendum quod non est necessarium nos Deo preces porrigere ut ei nostras indigentias vel desideria manifestemus, sed ut nosipsi consideremus in his ad divinum auxilium esse recurrendum.
Reply Obj. 1: We need to pray to God, not in order to make known to Him our needs or desires but that we ourselves may be reminded of the necessity of having recourse to God’s help in these matters.
Ad secundum dicendum quod, sicut dictum est, oratio nostra non ordinatur ad immutationem divinae dispositionis, sed ut obtineatur nostris precibus quod Deus disposuit.
Reply Obj. 2: As stated above, our motive in praying is, not that we may change the Divine disposition, but that, by our prayers, we may obtain what God has appointed.
Ad tertium dicendum quod Deus multa nobis praestat ex sua liberalitate etiam non petita. Sed quod aliqua vult praestare nobis petentibus, hoc est propter nostram utilitatem, ut scilicet fiduciam quandam accipiamus recurrendi ad Deum, et ut recognoscamus eum esse bonorum nostrorum auctorem. Unde Chrysostomus dicit, considera quanta est tibi concessa felicitas, quanta gloria attributa, orationibus fabulari cum Deo, cum Christo miscere colloquia, optare quod velis, quod desideras postulare.
Reply Obj. 3: God bestows many things on us out of His liberality, even without our asking for them: but that He wishes to bestow certain things on us at our asking, is for the sake of our good, namely, that we may acquire confidence in having recourse to God, and that we may recognize in Him the Author of our goods. Hence Chrysostom says: Think what happiness is granted thee, what honor bestowed on thee, when thou conversest with God in prayer, when thou talkest with Christ, when thou askest what thou wilt, whatever thou desirest.
Utrum oratio sit actus religionis
Whether prayer is an act of religion?
Ad tertium sic proceditur. Videtur quod oratio non sit actus religionis. Religio enim, cum sit pars iustitiae, est in voluntate sicut in subiecto. Sed oratio pertinet ad partem intellectivam, ut ex supradictis patet. Ergo oratio non videtur esse actus religionis, sed doni intellectus, per quod mens ascendit in Deum.
Objection 1: It would seem that prayer is not an act of religion. Since religion is a part of justice, it resides in the will as in its subject. But prayer belongs to the intellective part, as stated above (A. 1). Therefore prayer seems to be an act, not of religion, but of the gift of understanding whereby the mind ascends to God.
Praeterea, actus latriae cadit sub necessitate praecepti. Sed oratio non videtur cadere sub necessitate praecepti, sed ex mera voluntate procedere, cum nihil aliud sit quam volitorum petitio. Ergo oratio non videtur esse religionis actus.
Obj. 2: Further, the act of latria falls under a necessity of precept. But prayer does not seem to come under a necessity of precept, but to come from the mere will, since it is nothing else than a petition for what we will. Therefore prayer seemingly is not an act of religion.
Praeterea, ad religionem pertinere videtur ut quis divinae naturae cultum caeremoniamque afferat. Sed oratio non videtur aliquid Deo afferre, sed magis aliquid obtinendum ab eo petere. Ergo oratio non est religionis actus.
Obj. 3: Further, it seems to belong to religion that one offers worship and ceremonial rites to the Godhead. But prayer seems not to offer anything to God, but to ask to obtain something from Him. Therefore prayer is not an act of religion.
Sed contra est quod dicitur in Psalm., dirigatur oratio mea sicut incensum in conspectu tuo, ubi dicit Glossa quod in huius figuram, in veteri lege incensum dicebatur offerri in odorem suavem domino. Sed hoc pertinet ad religionem. Ergo oratio est religionis actus.
On the contrary, It is written (Ps 140:2): Let my prayer be directed as incense in Thy sight: and a gloss on the passage says that it was to signify this that under the Old Law incense was said to be offered for a sweet smell to the Lord. Now this belongs to religion. Therefore prayer is an act of religion.
Respondeo dicendum quod, sicut supra dictum est, ad religionem proprie pertinet reverentiam et honorem Deo exhibere. Et ideo omnia illa per quae Deo reverentia exhibetur pertinent ad religionem. Per orationem autem homo Deo reverentiam exhibet, inquantum scilicet se ei subiicit, et profitetur orando se eo indigere sicut auctore suorum bonorum. Unde manifestum est quod oratio est proprie religionis actus.
I answer that, As stated above (Q. 81, AA. 2, 4), it belongs properly to religion to show honor to God, wherefore all those things through which reverence is shown to God, belong to religion. Now man shows reverence to God by means of prayer, insofar as he subjects himself to Him, and by praying confesses that he needs Him as the Author of his goods. Hence it is evident that prayer is properly an act of religion.
Ad primum ergo dicendum quod voluntas movet alias potentias animae in suum finem, sicut supra dictum est. Et ideo religio, quae est in voluntate, ordinat actus aliarum potentiarum ad Dei reverentiam. Inter alias autem potentias animae, intellectus altior est et voluntati propinquior. Et ideo post devotionem, quae pertinet ad ipsam voluntatem, oratio, quae pertinet ad partem intellectivam, est praecipua inter actus religionis, per quam religio intellectum hominis movet in Deum.
Reply Obj. 1: The will moves the other powers of the soul to its end, as stated above (Q. 82, A. 1, ad 1), and therefore religion, which is in the will, directs the acts of the other powers to the reverence of God. Now among the other powers of the soul the intellect is the highest, and the nearest to the will; and consequently after devotion which belongs to the will, prayer which belongs to the intellective part is the chief of the acts of religion, since by it religion directs man’s intellect to God.
Ad secundum dicendum quod non solum petere quae desideramus, sed etiam recte aliquid desiderare sub praecepto cadit. Sed desiderare quidem cadit sub praecepto caritatis, petere autem sub praecepto religionis. Quod quidem praeceptum ponitur Matth. VII, ubi dicitur, petite, et accipietis.
Reply Obj. 2: It is a matter of precept not only that we should ask for what we desire, but also that we should desire aright. But to desire comes under a precept of charity, whereas to ask comes under a precept of religion, which precept is expressed in Matt. 7:7, where it is said: Ask and ye shall receive.
Ad tertium dicendum quod orando tradit homo mentem suam Deo, quam ei per reverentiam subiicit et quodammodo praesentat, ut patet ex auctoritate Dionysii prius inducta. Et ideo sicut mens humana praeeminet exterioribus vel corporalibus membris, vel exterioribus rebus quae ad Dei servitium applicantur, ita etiam oratio praeeminet aliis actibus religionis.
Reply Obj. 3: By praying man surrenders his mind to God, since he subjects it to Him with reverence and, so to speak, presents it to Him, as appears from the words of Dionysius quoted above (A. 1, Obj. 2). Wherefore just as the human mind excels exterior things, whether bodily members, or those external things that are employed for God’s service, so too, prayer surpasses other acts of religion.
Utrum solus Deus debeat orari
Whether we ought to pray to God alone?
Ad quartum sic proceditur. Videtur quod solus Deus debeat orari. Oratio enim est actus religionis, ut dictum est. Sed solus Deus est religione colendus. Ergo solus Deus est orandus.
Objection 1: It would seem that we ought to pray to God alone. Prayer is an act of religion, as stated above (A. 3). But God alone is to be worshiped by religion. Therefore we should pray to God alone.
Praeterea, frustra porrigitur oratio ad eum qui orationem non cognoscit. Sed solius Dei est orationem cognoscere. Tum quia plerumque oratio magis agitur interiori actu, quem solus Deus cognoscit, quam voce, secundum illud quod apostolus dicit, I ad Cor. XIV, orabo spiritu, orabo et mente. Tum etiam quia, ut Augustinus dicit, in libro de cura pro mortuis agenda, nesciunt mortui, etiam sancti, quid agant vivi, etiam eorum filii. Ergo oratio non est nisi Deo porrigenda.
Obj. 2: Further, it is useless to pray to one who is ignorant of the prayer. But it belongs to God alone to know one’s prayer, both because frequently prayer is uttered by an interior act which God alone knows, rather than by words, according to the saying of the Apostle (1 Cor 14:15), I will pray with the spirit, I will pray also with the understanding: and again because, as Augustine says (De Cura pro mortuis xiii) the dead, even the saints, know not what the living, even their own children, are doing. Therefore we ought to pray to God alone.
Praeterea, si aliquibus sanctis orationem porrigimus, hoc non est nisi inquantum sunt Deo coniuncti. Sed quidam in hoc mundo viventes, vel etiam in Purgatorio existentes, sunt multum Deo coniuncti per gratiam. Ad eos autem non porrigitur oratio. Ergo nec ad sanctos qui sunt in Paradiso debemus orationem porrigere.
Obj. 3: Further, if we pray to any of the saints, this is only because they are united to God. Now some yet living in this world, or even some who are in Purgatory, are closely united to God by grace, and yet we do not pray to them. Therefore neither should we pray to the saints who are in Paradise.
Sed contra est quod dicitur Iob V, voca, si est qui tibi respondeat, et ad aliquem sanctorum convertere.
On the contrary, It is written (Job 5:1), Call . . . if there be any that will answer thee, and turn to some of the saints.
Respondeo dicendum quod oratio porrigitur alicui dupliciter, uno modo, quasi per ipsum implenda; alio modo, sicut per ipsum impetranda. Primo quidem modo soli Deo orationem porrigimus, quia omnes orationes nostrae ordinari debent ad gratiam et gloriam consequendam, quae solus Deus dat, secundum illud Psalm., gratiam et gloriam dabit dominus. Sed secundo modo orationem porrigimus sanctis Angelis et hominibus, non ut per eos Deus nostras petitiones cognoscat, sed ut eorum precibus et meritis orationes nostrae sortiantur effectum. Et ideo dicitur Apoc. VIII quod ascendit fumus aromatum, idest orationes sanctorum, de manu Angeli coram domino. Et hoc etiam patet ex ipso modo quo Ecclesia utitur in orando. Nam a sancta Trinitate petimus ut nostri misereatur, ab aliis autem sanctis quibuscumque petimus ut orent pro nobis.
I answer that, Prayer is offered to a person in two ways: first, as to be fulfilled by him, second, as to be obtained through him. In the first way we offer prayer to God alone, since all our prayers ought to be directed to the acquisition of grace and glory, which God alone gives, according to Ps. 83:12, The Lord will give grace and glory. But in the second way we pray to the saints, whether angels or men, not that God may through them know our petitions, but that our prayers may be effective through their prayers and merits. Hence it is written (Rev 8:4) that the smoke of the incense, namely the prayers of the saints ascended up before God. This is also clear from the very style employed by the Church in praying: since we beseech the Blessed Trinity to have mercy on us, while we ask any of the saints to pray for us.
Ad primum ergo dicendum quod illi soli impendimus orando religionis cultum a quo quaerimus obtinere quod oramus, quia in hoc protestamur eum bonorum nostrorum auctorem, non autem eis quos requirimus quasi interpellatores nostros apud Deum.
Reply Obj. 1: To Him alone do we offer religious worship when praying, from Whom we seek to obtain what we pray for, because by so doing we confess that He is the Author of our goods: but not to those whom we call upon as our advocates in God’s presence.
Ad secundum dicendum quod mortui ea quae in hoc mundo aguntur, considerata eorum naturali conditione, non cognoscunt, et praecipue interiores motus cordis. Sed beatis, ut Gregorius dicit, in XII Moral., in verbo manifestatur illud quod decet eos cognoscere de eis quae circa nos aguntur, etiam quantum ad interiores motus cordis. Maxime autem eorum excellentiam decet ut cognoscant petitiones ad eos factas vel voce vel corde. Et ideo petitiones quas ad eos dirigimus, Deo manifestante, cognoscunt.
Reply Obj. 2: The dead, if we consider their natural condition, do not know what takes place in this world, especially the interior movements of the heart. Nevertheless, according to Gregory (Moral. xii, 21), whatever it is fitting the blessed should know about what happens to us, even as regards the interior movements of the heart, is made known to them in the Word: and it is most becoming to their exalted position that they should know the petitions we make to them by word or thought; and consequently the petitions which we raise to them are known to them through Divine manifestation.
Ad tertium dicendum quod illi qui sunt in hoc mundo aut in Purgatorio, nondum fruuntur visione verbi, ut possint cognoscere ea quae nos cogitamus vel dicimus. Et ideo eorum suffragia non imploramus orando, sed a vivis petimus colloquendo.
Reply Obj. 3: Those who are in this world or in Purgatory, do not yet enjoy the vision of the Word, so as to be able to know what we think or say. Wherefore we do not seek their assistance by praying to them, but ask it of the living by speaking to them.
Utrum in oratione nihil determinate a Deo petere debeamus
Whether we ought to ask for something definite when we pray?
Ad quintum sic proceditur. Videtur quod in oratione nihil determinate a Deo petere debeamus. Quia, ut Damascenus dicit, oratio est petitio decentium a Deo. Unde inefficax est oratio per quam petitur id quod non expedit, secundum illud Iac. IV, petitis et non accipitis, eo quod male petatis. Sed sicut dicitur Rom. VIII. Nam quid oremus sicut oportet, nescimus. Ergo non debemus aliquid orando determinate petere.
Objection 1: It would seem that we ought not to ask for anything definite when we pray to God. According to Damascene (De Fide Orth. iii, 24), to pray is to ask becoming things of God; wherefore it is useless to pray for what is inexpedient, according to James 4:3, You ask, and receive not: because you ask amiss. Now according to Rom. 8:26, we know not what we should pray for as we ought. Therefore we ought not to ask for anything definite when we pray.
Praeterea, quicumque aliquid determinate ab alio petit, nititur voluntatem ipsius inclinare ad faciendum id quod ipse vult. Non autem ad hoc tendere debemus ut Deus velit quod nos volumus, sed magis ut nos velimus quod Deus vult, ut dicit Glossa, super illud Psalm., exultate, iusti, in domino. Ergo non debemus aliquid determinatum a Deo petere.
Obj. 2: Further, those who ask another person for something definite strive to incline his will to do what they wish themselves. But we ought not to endeavor to make God will what we will; on the contrary, we ought to strive to will what He wills, according to a gloss on Ps. 32:1, Rejoice in the Lord, O ye just. Therefore we ought not to ask God for anything definite when we pray.
Praeterea, mala a Deo petenda non sunt, ad bona autem Deus ipse nos invitat. Frustra autem ab aliquo petitur ad quod accipiendum invitatur. Ergo non est determinate aliquid a Deo in oratione petendum.
Obj. 3: Further, evil things are not to be sought from God; and as to good things, God Himself invites us to take them. Now it is useless to ask a person to give you what he invites you to take. Therefore we ought not to ask God for anything definite in our prayers.