The Raising of Lazarus

Father Girardey recounts a tenth narrative, The Raising of Lazarus (John 11:1-45): “There was a certain man sick, named Lazarus, of Bethania, of the town of Mary and Martha, her sister.” The sister sent word to Jesus, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick.” But Jesus “remained in the same place two days.” He arrived in Bethania after Lazarus had been buried. “Martha therefore said to Jesus: Lord, if Thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. But now also I know that whatsoever Thou wilt ask of God, God will give it to Thee. Jesus saith to her: Thy brother shall live again. Martha saith to Him: I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Jesus said to her: I am the resurrection and the life; he that believeth in Me, although he be dead, shall live. And every one that liveth and believeth in Me, shall not die forever. Believest thou this? She saith to Him: Yea, Lord, I have believed that Thou art Christ the Son of the living God, who art come into this world.” Then Jesus “cometh to the sepulchre. Now it was a cave, and a stone was laid over it. Jesus said: Take away the stone. . . . He cried with a loud voice: Lazarus, come forth. And presently he that had been dead, came forth.”

Father Girardey notes: “Lazarus was greatly beloved by our divine Saviour. . . . When Lazarus became dangerously ill, his two sisters sent to Jesus the message: ‘He whom Thou lovest is sick.’ . . . Martha and Mary in their message did not expressly ask Jesus to come and cure His beloved friend Lazarus, their brother, but they naturally expected that Jesus would hasten to come and cure him. The very wording of the message implies this; and yet we may assume that in this matter they were resigned to whatever course Jesus would take. Thus also should we in our prayers for matters temporal strive to be resigned to God’s holy will, even if not in accordance with our desires.”

“After receiving the message of the illness of Lazarus, Jesus Christ seemed to be in no hurry, although He knew that Lazarus was on the point of death. . . . He proceeded to Bethany only by slow stages, so that when He reached that town, Lazarus had been dead four days. By so deferring His arrival Jesus did far more for the sisters of Lazarus than merely to cure him, for He gave them the occasion of gaining great merit, not only by accepting their brother’s death with resignation, but also by not losing, as most of us would have done, their firm faith and loving confidence in Jesus; and besides this He raised Lazarus to life by a most striking miracle in their favor, by a miracle which furnished a palpable proof of His being the Son of God and the promised Saviour of mankind and, as He Himself declared, would give great glory to God.”

“Let us admire the conduct of Martha and Mary. When they met Jesus before their brother’s resurrection, neither of them uttered a word of complaint, dissatisfaction or disappointment that Jesus had so long deferred His coming. . . . Let us learn from their example not to complain or despond, when God does not hear our prayers when and as we wish. God’s ways are not our ways, and His ways are better than ours.”

Quotations from Ferreol Girardey, Prayer: Its Necessity, Its Power, Its Conditions (St. Louis: B. Herder, 1916).

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The Healing of an Epileptic Boy

Father Girardey discusses a ninth narrative, The Healing of an Epileptic Boy (Mark 9:14-29; Luke 9:37-43), which took place after Jesus had come down from the mountain where He was transfigured: “And one of the multitude, answering, said: Master, I have brought my son, my only son to Thee. He hath a dumb spirit, who, wheresoever he taketh him, dasheth him, and throweth him down, and teareth him, so that he foameth, and gnasheth the teeth and pineth away; and he bruiseth him and hardly departeth from him. And I spoke to Thy disciples to cast him out, and they could not. . . . And when he had seen Jesus, immediately the spirit troubled him; and, being thrown down upon the ground, he rolled about foaming. And Jesus asked his father: How long is it since this (first) happened to him? But he said: From his infancy; and oftentimes hath he cast him into the fire and into waters to destroy him. But if Thou canst do anything, help us, having compassion on us. And Jesus saith to him: If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. And immediately the father of the boy, crying out with tears, said: I do believe; Lord, help my unbelief. And when Jesus saw the multitude running together, He threatened the unclean spirit, saying to him: Deaf and dumb spirit, I command thee, go out of him; and enter not anymore into him. (The unclean spirit) crying out and greatly tearing him, went out of him, and he (the boy) became as dead, so that many said: He is dead. But Jesus, taking him by the hand, lifted him up, and he arose and Jesus restored him to his father. . . . His disciples secretly asked Him: Why could not we cast him out? And He said to them: This kind can go out by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.”

Concerning the father’s plea, “if Thou canst do anything, help us,” Father Girardey notes: “This was not said in a spirit of doubt or denial, but rather of a weak faith, hence our divine Saviour sought to confirm and strengthen his faith by reminding him of the necessity of a lively and confiding faith, saying: ‘If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.’ As soon as he heard this, the boy’s father weeping replied with humility and energy: ‘I do believe, help my unbelief.’ This earnest prayer obtained for him the necessary strong and confiding faith, and Jesus cast the evil spirit out of the boy. This shows us what kind of faith will cause our prayers to be heard.”

As for the reason why the disciples could not heal the boy, “Jesus by His answer taught them that for certain great and important favors a simple prayer alone does not suffice, but that persistent prayer must be joined to acts of self-denial. . . . This is a practical lesson for those Christians who pray very little and never deny themselves any enjoyment, but indulge their appetite and sensuality.”

Quotations from Ferreol Girardey, Prayer: Its Necessity, Its Power, Its Conditions (St. Louis: B. Herder, 1916).

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Jairus’ Daughter and a Woman’s Faith

Father Girardey relates an eighth narrative. This one concerns Jairus’ Daughter and a Woman’s Faith (Matt 9:18-25; Mark 5:22-43; Luke 8:41-56): “There cometh one of the rulers of the synagogue, named Jairus, and seeing Jesus, he falleth down at His feet, and besought Him much, saying: My daughter is at the point of death; come, lay Thy hand upon her, that she may be safe and may live. And Jesus went with him. . . . And a woman who was under an issue of blood twelve years, . . . when she had heard of Jesus, she came in the crowd behind Him and touched His garment, for she said: If I shall touch but His garment, I shall be whole (cured). And forthwith the fountain of her blood was dried up. . . . Jesus, knowing in Himself the virtue that had proceeded from Him, turning to the multitude, said: Who hath touched My garments? . . . The woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before Him, and told Him all the truth. And He said to her: Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace. . . . While He was yet speaking, some came from the house of the ruler of the synagogue, saying: Thy daughter is dead; why dost thou trouble the Master any further? But Jesus, having heard the word that was spoken, saith to the ruler of the synagogue: Fear not, believe only, and she shall be safe. . . . And they laughed Him to scorn. . . . And taking the damsel by the hand, He said to her: Talitha cumi, which means: damsel, (I say to thee) arise. And immediately the damsel rose up and walked.”

Father Girardey remarks that Jairus’ dread of his daughter’s approaching death was “the greatest blessing for him, for it humbled and brought him to the feet of Jesus, and caused him to place all confidence in Jesus, as his only hope. In like manner, how often are not the things we call misfortunes real blessings, which remove us from the occasions of sin, show us the vanity of all that is earthly and induce us to seek real happiness in the service of God?”

“How did Jesus receive Jairus? With the greatest kindness and He at once betook Himself on the way with Jairus to his house. In like manner, Jesus is ever ready to receive with the greatest kindness and love every sinner that comes to Him.”

The suffering woman who sought after Jesus was “full of faith and confidence in His power, and anxious to be cured. . . . Her faith and confidence were at once rewarded. But Jesus demanded of her something more, something that would cost her much and give glory to God and edification to the neighbor. Hence He asked, who had touched Him. . . . The poor woman trembling and ashamed prostrated herself before Him, and humbly acknowledged her disease, a disease held in abhorrence. . . . The humility, confidence and gratitude of this woman are well worthy of our imitation.”

As Jesus continued on the way to the house of Jairus, “a messenger came to tell Jairus that his daughter had just died, and that it was of no use to bring Jesus to his house. But Jesus encouraged him to keep up his hope of her cure. . . . He at once raised her to life.”

Quotations from Ferreol Girardey, Prayer: Its Necessity, Its Power, Its Conditions (St. Louis: B. Herder, 1916).

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The Healing of Ten Lepers

Father Girardey discusses a seventh narrative, The Healing of Ten Lepers (Luke 17:12-19): “As Jesus entered a certain town, there met Him ten men that were lepers, and they stood afar off, and lifted up their voice, saying: Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. When He saw them, He said: Go, show yourselves to the priests. And it came to pass, as they went, they were made clean. And one of them, when he saw that he was made clean, went back, with a loud voice glorifying God. And he fell on his face before His feet, giving thanks. And this man was a Samaritan. And Jesus, answering, said: Were not ten made clean? And where are the nine? There is no one found to return and give glory to God, but this stranger.”

Father Girardey notes that these lepers “clung together in their misery, which they keenly felt. They came all together in the neighborhood of the place where Jesus was, and standing at the prescribed distance from Him, they in a loud voice besought Him to have mercy on them. . . . These lepers prayed well. Their prayer was humble, for they stood far off, as being unworthy to approach Jesus; it was earnest and fervent, for they felt their misery and prayed with a loud voice; it was full of confidence, for they did not rely on their merits, but on the Saviour’s goodness, saying: ‘Have mercy on us.’ It was efficacious in kind, for they prayed in common, and God blesses such prayer (Matt 18:20), and our divine Saviour has taught us to make use of it, when teaching us the Our Father.”

“He said to them: ‘Go, show yourselves to the priests,’ requiring them to show obedience and submission to the Mosaic Law, and reverence to the priests. Their cure was also partly owing to their faith, for they believed in being cured by Jesus and at once set themselves on their way to show themselves to the priests, although they were not yet cured, for, says the Gospel, ‘as they went, they were made clean.'”

“The thought naturally entered the minds of all ten to go back and show their gratitude to Jesus. But only one of them gave effect to this thought. . . . He returned all the way to show his gratitude, and he did so most humbly, publicly prostrating himself before Jesus, without human respect. His conduct delighted the tender Heart of Jesus.”

“How many ever thank God for the numerous temporal favors they daily receive from Him! How few even show their gratitude for the spiritual favors and graces God so plentifully bestows upon them, help in temptation, forgiveness of sins.”

Quotations from Ferreol Girardey, Prayer: Its Necessity, Its Power, Its Conditions (St. Louis: B. Herder, 1916).

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The Healing of the Syrophoenician Woman

Father Girardey discusses a sixth Gospel narrative, The Healing of the Syrophoenician Woman (Matt 15:21-28; Mark 7:24-30): “Jesus retired into the coast of Tyre and Sidon, and entering into a house, He would that no man should know it, and He could not be hid. For a woman, as soon as she heard of Him, whose daughter had an unclean spirit, came in and fell down at His feet. For the woman was a Gentile, a Syrophoenician by birth, and she besought Him that He would cast forth the devil out of her daughter, saying: Have mercy on me, O Lord, Thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously troubled by a devil. But Jesus answered her not a word. And His disciples came and besought Him, saying: Send her away, for she crieth after us. And He, answering, said: I was not sent but to the sheep that are lost of the house of Israel. But she came and adored Him, saying: Lord, help me. But Jesus said: Suffer first the children to be filled, for it is not good to take the bread of the children and to cast it to the dogs. But she said: Yea, Lord; for the whelps also eat of the crumbs that fall from the table of their masters. Then Jesus, answering, said to her: O woman, great is thy faith; be it done to thee as thou wilt, for this saying (of thine); go thy way, the devil is gone out of thy daughter. And when she was come into her house, she found the girl lying upon the bed, and that the devil was gone out.”

Father Girardey comments: “Our Lord Jesus Christ came on earth to redeem mankind, with the mission from His heavenly Father to preach the Gospel to the Jews, and to prepare His apostles to found His Church and preach the Gospel to all nations. That is why He did not Himself undertake to preach and perform miracles among the Gentiles. . . . Hence, when He went to the coast of Tyre and Sidon, He wished to remain unknown.”

“Admirable, indeed, is the conduct of the woman of Canaan! Like the centurion, she is a model of faith and humility in prayer. First, she prostrates herself, and beseeches Jesus to have mercy on her. Jesus, ever so good, so kind to the meek and humble, seems to ignore her presence, for He pays no attention to her. But she persists, for she wishes to be heard, to have Him show her mercy, by curing her daughter. . . . Jesus objects that He is not sent to do anything for the Gentiles. She, however, again prostrates herself and adores Him, imploring His help. Then Jesus deeply humbles her by a comparison which would have completely discouraged and even angered anyone else. But instead of this she with wonderful faith, confidence and humility, draws therefrom the conclusion that Jesus must not refuse her the crumbs falling from the table of the chosen Jewish nation. . . . He openly admires her humble faith and at once grants her request. Indeed, we may now say, ‘God giveth grace to the humble’ (1 Pet 5:5). Let us, therefore, always humble ourselves and persevere in prayer.”

Quotations from Ferreol Girardey, Prayer: Its Necessity, Its Power, Its Conditions (St. Louis: B. Herder, 1916).

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The Healing of Naaman

Father Girardey cites the story of the healing of Naaman (2 Kgs 5) to reinforce one of the lessons learned in The Healing of the Ruler’s Son, namely, that God is the best judge of how to cure our ills.

Father Girardey summarizes the events in these words: “Naaman, the prime minister of the king of Syria, was struck with leprosy, and as he could find no physician or remedy to cure him, the king informed him that in the kingdom of Israel there was a prophet of God who wrought wonderful cures and other miracles, and therefore advised Naaman to go to that prophet. So Naaman, attended, in accordance with his rank, by a large and splendid retinue of soldiers and officials, went from Damascus to Samaria to request the prophet Eliseus to cure him of his leprosy. ‘So Naaman,’ we read, ‘came with his horses and chariots, and stood at the door of the house of Eliseus; and Eliseus sent a messenger to him, saying: Go and wash seven times in the Jordan, and thy flesh shall recover health, and thou shalt be clean. Naaman was angry, and went away saying: I thought the prophet would come out to me, and standing, would have invoked the name of the Lord his God, and touched with his hand the place of the leprosy, and healed me. Are not the Abana and the Pharphar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel, that I may wash in them, and be made clean? So, as he turned and was going away with indignation, his servants came to him, and said to him: Father, if the prophet had bid thee to do some great (difficult) thing, surely thou wouldst have done it; how much rather (shouldst thou do) what he hath said to thee: Wash, and thou shalt be clean.’ Naaman followed this very sensible advice of seeking a cure in the prophet’s way, and was at once perfectly cured.”

Father Girardey adds: “As for us, let us be satisfied with God’s way in preference to our own.”

Quotations from Ferreol Girardey, Prayer: Its Necessity, Its Power, Its Conditions (St. Louis: B. Herder, 1916).

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The Healing of the Ruler’s Son

Father Girardey offers, for our consideration, a fifth narrative, The Healing of the Ruler’s Son (John 4:46-53): “There was a certain ruler whose son was sick at Capharnaum. Having heard that Jesus was come from Judea into Galilee, he went to Him and prayed Him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. Jesus therefore said to him: Unless you see signs and wonders, you believe not. The ruler saith to Him: Lord, come down before that my son die. Jesus saith to him: Go thy way, thy son liveth. The man believed the word that Jesus said to him, and went his way. And as he was going down, his servants met him; and they brought word, saying that his son lived.”

Father Girardey notes: “We see that the ruler’s power and wealth could not avert sickness or death from his son, and that youth is not secure and possesses no privilege against disease and death.” Moreover, “it was misfortune that brought him to Jesus. . . . An apparent serious misfortune is a true benefit, a real blessing. . . . All physical evils may, in God’s providence, become real blessings and promote and even be necessary for our salvation.”

“He first met with a rebuke from our Lord on account of his very imperfect faith, and probably also of his wavering confidence in Jesus, for he thought that Jesus, like physicians, could cure only the sick they had seen and diagnosed. . . . He, like many Christians of our times, believed that Jesus could help him, but only in his own way, by going with him to his sick son. But Jesus soon made him aware that he was mistaken, for He said to him: ‘Go thy way, for thy son liveth,’ that is, thy son is now cured. The ruler believed Jesus, and at once set out for his home. . . . The dangerous illness of his son proved a real blessing for himself and family.”

“Whenever we ask some favor, some benefit, some grace, someone’s conversion from God, we usually expect God to grant it to us in a certain way, within a certain time, and we feel great disappointment if He does not; we do not consider that God is able to grant the favor to us in many other ways, and that He is the best judge of the way most appropriate, most beneficial to us. Let us imitate the ruler, who having heard the declaration of Jesus that his son was cured, believed Him and at once returned home.”

Quotations from Ferreol Girardey, Prayer: Its Necessity, Its Power, Its Conditions (St. Louis: B. Herder, 1916).

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