Tag Archives: prayer

When you can’t pray it’s good to know someone else can.

Lent is about the desert really. It’s the long winding journey to the Promised Land, and it can be really, really dry. I vaguely remember a story of a sister in the convent with St Teresa of Avila who was caught trying to avoid the call to chapel. She confessed that she didn’t feel like praying, and St Teresa said neither did she, but they must do so anyway.  There are times when praying is so dry you can wonder whether the words themselves even mean anything.

The Church as always known this of course and hence she has given us Divine Office. We don’t have to try and make our own words work, when they simply aren’t going to – we can offer back to God His own Words. Much better. Thankfully when He was going about inspiring the writers of the Psalms and other Scriptures, He was offering beautiful Words that are good for the soul peace and of course soul scrubbing.

Nothing worthwhile is easy so it’s always good to persevere in prayer, but it is also quite true that we have what a friend of mine calls “seasons”. In this season with little children, ill health and lots going on, perhaps the prayers, get a bit jumbled and ragged. Perhaps they don’t even happen at all some days.

Fortunately for us we have the saints (the Church Triumphant) to pray for us. We do so every day probably, and it has occured to me a couple of times when I am just so tired, I can’t even see the words of Divine Office, much less pray them, that our friends in heaven can take up our prayer and do some of it for us.

I am not suggesting we get lazy in prayer and simply say, oh if the saints and other people are praying I don’t have to. That wouldn’t be a good idea at all. But on those really awful days, or seasons, where we just aren’t getting it together, then it’s good to know that the saints are there and of course some prayer warriors here in the Church Militant.

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Tagged for Devotional meme

Ages ago Rita tagged me for this meme and I am afraid I was too slack and going off on other things to get around to doing it properly. Now Karen has tagged me as well. So here it is:

I am to name 5 favorite devotions – Mass is NOT to be included – and then tag 5 other people and let them know they’ve been tagged, and then give the person you tagged a link back to the post you’ve completed.

1. Morning Prayer from Divine Office I also love Compline but don’t get around to it as often.

2. Seven Sorrows Rosary. This is linked with my beloved St Bridget of Sweden and others and has more recently been re-reminded by Our Lady of Kibeho. The 7 Sorrows are: the prophecy of Simeon (a sword will pierce your heart), the exile to Egypt, the loss of the Christ Child when He stayed in the Temple; Mary greets her son at the Cross; the crucifixion; Mary receives her Son from the cross; Jesus is laid in the tomb.

3. The Prayer of St Michael.

4.The quickie from Divine Mercy; Jesus I trust in You.

5. The Rosary – sometimes as Lectio Divina.

Oh and I love…well I had better stop there.

So now I tag, Deb,  Swissy,   Therese and anyone else of whatever faith background who has favourite devotions to share, and anyone who hasn’t already done this.

O Sapientia!

O WISDOM!

First day of the O Antiphons today.

Catholic Culture has some good resourses including an O Antiphon House like an advent calender.  And then there’s the chance to practice “O Come o come Emmanuel” or Veni Veni Emmanual.

Go HERE to click on the youtube vid and hear the beautiful chant for today.

Teaching children The Sign of The Cross

One of the first prayers we teach our children in our family is The Sign of the Cross. It is a perfect prayer for little ones as they can begin the gestures even before they can speak.

Heleyna is still in the arm waving and occasional head poking stage, while both Avila and Ronan enjoy being able to make the Sign and say the prayer.

This prayer is one of the few we have that date back to the beginnings of the Church. (The Our Father, Apostles Creed and First Eucharistic Prayer are others) and it is one that has changed very little.  We still use the cross markings on the forehead that was probably the earliest gesture the prayer incorporated. Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholics hold the thumb and two fingers together as a sign of the Holy Trinity.

It’s such a little prayer and yet it is packed with so much meaning. The words are the ones Jesus told the Apostles to use as they baptised all the nations. They are the Trinitarian formula in which we recognise the Oneness and Three Persons of the Holy Trinity.

In the gesture of the prayer we ‘proclaim Christ crucified’ and that we are part of the Body of Christ. We also make a statement about ourselves as whole persons made in the image and likeness of God.

We are made body and soul. There were a couple of heresies in the earlier days of the Church where adherents tried to separate the importance of the body to the soul. This led to some pretty odd and unpleasant behaviours because the body did not matter-only the soul.

The Church has always taught that we are whole persons however. So how we pray needs to reflect that. We have a prayer and liturgy tradition that incorporates our whole selves. We put our hands together, we make the Sign of the Cross; we kneel before God; stand and at times even prostrate ourselves before Him.

Children instinctively use their whole bodies to express themselves. Teaching them to pray using actions and gestures is a natural extension of this.

I also teach them that as they touch their head, heart, and shoulders they are reminding themselves to love God with their whole MIND, HEART and STRENGTH.

 

Body and Soul

In this morning’s Divine Office St Paul asks  “Think of God’s mercy, my brothers, and worship him, I beg you, in a way that is worthy of thinking beings, by offering your living bodies as a holy sacrifice, truly pleasing to God. Do not model yourselves on the behaviour of the world around you, but let your behaviour change, modelled by your new mind. This is the only way to discover the will of God and know what is good, what it is that God wants, what is the perfect thing to do.” (Rom 12:1-2)

Doing something material-with our bodies-for Lent is part of that sacrifice St Paul demands of us. Sacrifice is giving up a good, like the wonders of chocolate or the appreciation of a good glass of wine, and offering it up for a greater good; love of Christ and making ourselves holy. St Paul doesn’t say, just pray in your head and you’ll be holy. When Paul tells the Romans not to model themselves on the world around them, he is looking at a world not that much different from ours it seems, materialism and selfishness are not new ideas. He calls for Christians to ‘man up about it’ and train their bodies for spiritual battle.

Prayer has to be body and soul. So much of the wholeness of prayer has been lost, and with it, I think, the understanding of just how powerful prayer is. For the little ones, movement, song and words are a great way to learn to converse with God.

They can kneel down, put their hands together, make the Sign of the Cross and gradually come to understand more of how to relate to a God they cannot see with their eyes. 

It is the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes today. Even there we see that body and soul at work; Bernadette had to dig for the spring and pilgrims journey there and then bathe in the waters.

I’ve been to Lourdes once when I was 14. The baths are a strange experience. I was sent into a changing room, where I removed my clothes and put on a white robe. Then I stepped out  to the baths. Two nuns stood on either side and assisted me to walk down some stone steps into the water which was absolutely FREEZING. Holding an elbow each the nuns silently guided me towards a little statue of Our Lady at the other side of the bath and then I had to bend into the water to kiss her. I turned round and was guided back. In the changing room I removed the wet robe and without drying myself-no towels-I dressed. I was covered in this strange warmth that lasted for the rest of the day.

The grotto was stuffed with old crutches and other equipment from those who had been healed there. Even so, the Church, ever cautious has only recognised a few of those cures as miraculous.

The fact is, God treats us body and soul. He heals both and loves us as whole people.