Wednesday, October 9, 2013

3 Reasons I Love Catholicism Vol. 7


"The Lord tells us: ‘The first task in life is this: prayer.’ But not the prayer of words, like a parrot; but the prayer of the heart: gazing on the Lord, hearing the Lord, asking the Lord.” ~Pope Francis

The heart of any religion is prayer, isn't it?  Our personal relationship with God, our love for Him, our desire to draw near and be held close by Him is what keeps us returning to church again and again and gives us the courage to live our faith in our daily lives regardless of the circumstances within which we find ourselves.  So for this edition of 3 Reasons I Love Catholicism, a monthly link-up hosted by Micaela at California to Korea, I am sharing my three favorite forms of private prayer.

1.  Lectio Divina:  Here's a prayer form with staying power, meaning when I pray lectio divina, I can feel the effects of the prayer throughout the remainder of the day, long after my quiet time of prayer is over.  I was first introduced to lectio divina, or divine reading,  by a spiritual director seven years ago, and not a day has gone by since then that I have not put it into use in one way or another.  Lectio Divina consists of four elements:  Lectio (reading), Meditatio (meditation), Oratio (prayer), and Contemplatio (contemplation).  When reading a scripture passage (I usually choose the Mass readings of the day), I try to find one particular sentence that speaks to my heart and use that for my prayer.  In my experience of slowly reading a passage of scripture, meditating upon its meaning, praying with it-asking God to allow His words to enter into my heart and change me, and then resting in His love, I have found a source of peace that I can turn to again and again when the upheavals of daily living threaten to break my spirit.  Spending significant time with scripture brings important and uplifting passages easily to mind in times of need and I am thereby comforted.  Some of my favorite scriptural passages that I find myself praying with over and over again after having used them in Lectio Divina are:

"Come now, let us set things right, says the Lord.  Though your sins be as scarlet, they will become white as snow.  Though crimson red, they will be like wool." ~Isaiah 1:18

"Look to Him that you may be radiant and your faces will not blush with shame."  ~Psalm 34:5

and of course...

"I say to myself, I will not mention His name, I will speak in His name no longer.  But then, it becomes like a fire burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones, I grow weary holding it in, I cannot endure it."  ~Jeremiah 20:7-10

For a quick yet thorough explanation of Lectio Divina by Bishop Donald Hying, visit the Milwaukee Catholic Herald here.


2.  The Rosary:  I grew up with the rosary.  Every night at 6:15, a local radio station would air the  rosary and my family would join in.  If my brothers and sisters and I were outside playing, my mom would simply call out "It's 6:15!" and we all knew that meant come to the kitchen and get on your knees for prayer.  Today, the rosary remains a valued part of my prayer life.  My sisters and I get together once each month to pray the rosary together, and I enjoy a daily walk on my lunch break to pray the rosary and reflect upon the stories of scripture that are contained within the mysteries of the rosary.  Each night when I go to bed, I take a rosary with me, clinging to the beads and knowing that the Blessed Mother is holding onto me just as tightly as I hold onto her rosary.

I love this quote about the rosary from Pope John Paul I, who only reigned for 33 days in 1978:

"To be, for a half hour at least, before God as I am in reality, with all my misery and with the best of myself; to let rise to the surface from the depths of my being the child I once was, who wants to laugh, to chatter, to love the Lord and who sometimes feels the need to cry so that he may be shown mercy, helps me to pray. The rosary, a simple and easy prayer, helps me to be a child and I am not ashamed at all."

Not in the habit of praying the rosary and want more information on how to do it?  Here's a nice instructional:  How to Pray the Rosary by Syte Reitz 

3.  The Liturgy of the Hours:   Are you comforted to know that right now, somewhere in the world, someone is praying this ancient prayer of the Church?  The Liturgy of the Hours or The Divine Office sanctifies the day.  The clergy and religious are required to pray The Divine Office, but anyone can join in and pray without ceasing using this rich form of prayer.  The Liturgy of the Hours consists of Lauds (Morning Prayer), Terce (Mid-morning Prayer), Sext (Midday Prayer), None (Afternoon Prayer), Vespers (Evening Prayer), and Compline (Night Prayer.)

For myself, I am only in the habit of praying Lauds each morning, but the thought of people praying for the entire Church at regular intervals throughout the day brings me comfort and peace.  Someone is always reaching out to God on behalf of all of humanity and we are blessed.

There is a easy to use online resource for the Liturgy of the Hours.   If you are interested in joining your prayers to the voices of many others in the church, visit Universalis here.

"Lord, open our lips, and we shall praise your name."  ~from Liturgy of the Hours

Visit Micaela for more reasons to love Catholicism.

3 comments:

  1. Oh this is a wonderful post Anne! So much to contemplate here. The prayer of the heart ahhh how beautiful we can come into the presence of our Lord throughout the day in prayer and Divine Office. You are so blessed your mother called you in at 6:15 to pray daily. That is an amazing gift and example. So thankful the church prays across the globe at all times as it is what steadies the universe and our fallen hearts I believe. Thank you for posting your incredible gift of writing...

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  2. A life built around prayer - I can't imagine anything more fulfilling.

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  3. I hope that someday my prayer life is as dedicated as yours, Anne. What a beautiful description and invitation you've written. Thanks for linking up again, and God bless you!

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