Continuing his exposition of religion, which is a virtue associated with justice, Father Pegues explains that religion is expressed by interior, as well as exterior, acts. There are two interior acts of religion: devotion and prayer.
“Devotion is a certain movement of the will whereby it gives itself and all dependent on it to the service of God, and this always and with a holy zeal.”
After devotion, comes our first act in the service of God, which is the act of prayer. “Prayer, understood in its widest sense and in so far as it is addressed to God, is an act of the practical reason by which, under the form of supplication, we desire to lead God to grant what we ask. . . . Since we are by nature rational beings, we have need of considering in the greatest degree what God is and what we are. But we are filled with miseries; and He is the source of all good. The more intimately we know then our own misery in all its details, and that God only is capable of succouring our needs, the more we shall come to know what we ought to be, that is to know what our very nature has need of; and this is precisely what prayer effects. It is, moreover, the more perfect when it makes us the more conscious of our misery and of the goodness of God, which is the remedy of that misery. It is for this reason that God in His mercy wishes us to pray.”
It is “God’s will that we are fulfilling when we endeavour by prayer to lead Him to grant what we ask,” provided that “what we ask of Him is for our own true good. . . . God always hears our prayers when we ask of Him, under the very impulse of the Holy Ghost, what is for our true good.” The Lord’s Prayer is “a form of prayer whereby we may be assured of asking always for what is for our good.”
Knowing that all good things come from God, we may ask certain creatures to intercede for us before God. We may ask this of good people on earth, of angels and saints in heaven, and in particular, of Mary, “ever a virgin and the Mother of the incarnate Son of God.”
Quotations from Thomas Pegues, Catechism of the “Summa Theologica” of Saint Thomas Aquinas, trans. Aelred Whitacre (New York: Benziger, 1922).