Tag Archives: prayer guide

Pray With Us

October 23, 2013

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Madonna and Child ~ Licensed under Creative Commons

Madonna and Child ~ Licensed under Creative Commons

Praying Together for Our Church

Below is a letter from Jeff Cavins to the Archbishop Harry J. Flynn Catechetical Institute inviting us to pray.  Let us all join in this beautiful novena.

In times of difficulty I have learned to turn to Mary.

For those of you who do not know of the Catechetical Institute – I urge everyone to look into it.  I am an alumni. Go C.I.

Thank you Jeff.

 

 

Dear Friends,

 

We would like to invite you to something very special that those associated with the Archbishop Harry J. Flynn Catechetical Institute are doing in response to recent news in our archdiocese.

 

As many of you know, the Catholic Church is going through some extremely difficult times. As graduates and current students, you know that we, at the Catechetical Institute, are not only learning “what” to believe, but we are learning how to “live out” what we believe. It is difficult times such as these that call us to live what we have learned—to truly live as disciples of Jesus Christ, as witnesses to the Gospel, as Christians. This is not an easy task.

 

As Catholics, we are blessed to follow in the great biblical tradition of the heroes of faith, men and women who responded to trials with prayer, praise and thanksgiving. As a united Catechetical Institute, we are doing just that and extending an invitation to our CI community to pray together for every member who makes up our archdiocese; for, the archdiocese is not the structure, it is the people, all of us together. We are inviting you to join us in praying for the entire body of Christ and all who are suffering right now during this arduous time.

 

We are beginning an extraordinary novena, one that happens to be a favorite of Pope Francis. The novena is called, “Mary, Undoer of Knots” and has a beautiful and rich tradition.

 

This novena will begin on Wednesday, October 23rd and conclude on the eve of the Feast of All Saints. If you do not own the small booklet that explains and walks you through the novena, you can find the daily prayers at http://www.cistudent.com.

 

As mature Catholic believers, we must always ask ourselves, “What is the responsible, charitable and right way to proceed?” No doubt, many people have asked you questions about what they are hearing in the media. Our response does not merely represent our own opinion, but it represents the body of Christ. We are the body of Christ, and as such we need to always ask, “What would Jesus do?”

 

Therefore, let us ask the Holy Spirit to season all our words with love, mercy and compassion. This is not only our response to our fellow Catholics, but also the response to those who appear to be attacking the Church. The guilty, the innocent, the accused and the accusers should all be treated with dignity and love. This is what it means to truly live the faith. This is what it means to be a Christian.

 

Thank you for uniting your prayers with ours at the Archbishop Harry J. Flynn Catechetical Institute. Let us together turn to Mary, Undoer of Knots, invoking her to ask her Son to grant us pure, humble and trusting hearts.

 

In Christ,

 

Jeff Cavins

 

 

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Here’s a book for when you haven’t got a prayer

November 26, 2012

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There’s a misleading subtitle on a wonderful new book, “Acceptable Words: Prayers for the Writer”; although writers are certainly the target audience, the collection isn’t just for writers, it’s for anyone.

Prayers come from a wide-ranging list, names you know and names you’ve more than likely never heard. There’s Thomas Merton and G.K. Chesterton, e.e. cummings and Bernard of Cluny, Thomas Aquinas, Jane Austen, John Donne, T.S. Eliot, Henri Nouwen, John Henry Newman, Alexsandr Solzhenitsyn and so many more.

But there’s also American poet Otto Selles and novelist Sandy Tritt, South African political activist Joe Seremane, Luci Shaw, Macrina Wiederkehr, Frank Topping, William J. Vande Kopple and Scott Hoezee.

Though they pray from different eras and in many different styles, a base of belief undergirds them all. As editors Gary D. Schmidt and Elizabeth Stickney note, “These are the prayers of those who love words and who love God’s world and who love the ways in which the words and the world may come together. These prayers are acts of devotion, are expressions of frustration, are pleas for hope and understanding.”

Hoezee, a minister and theologian, penned a few of those that spoke to me. In one, for example, he asks the Lord:

Help me listen to the ordinary things people tell me. Make me attend to how they speak and to the yearnings of their hearts that emerge in such daily conversations. If I need fresh language and new metaphors, let them emerge from the ordinary as well as from the extraordinary so that the words I wrote may, must so, speak strength and grace into the commonplace of people’s lives.

Topping, a methodist minister and playwright,  prayed one of those that non-writers will find of value:

Lord Jesus, write your truth in my mind, your joy in my heart, and your love in my life, that filled with truth, possessed by joy, and living in love, your integrity, your humor, and your compassion might be born in me again.

Artists of all kinds will appreciate these lines from Dag Hammarskjold, the late United Nations’ general secretary:

Thou takest the pen — and the lines dance. Thou takest the flute‚ and the notes shimmer. Thou takest the brush and the colors sing. So all things have meaning and beauty in that space beyond time where Thou art. How, then, can I hold back anything from Thee?

There are dozens just as meaningful and touching as these, prayers by Dom Helder Camara, by Rainer Maria Rilke, by the ancient composers of the psalms.

Schmidt and Stickney have organized them into eight categories with teasing introductions to each that will whet your appetite to dive into the batch of prayers that follow.

The writers’ way with words glistens in nearly every single one. Some are more formal and pietistic, some more earth-bound and in everyday language. You’ll find many you’ll want to pray over and over, but let me share just one more example from this Eerdmans paperback ($16). It’s credited to the conference of European Churches:

Lord God, we have given more weight to our successes and our happiness than to your will.

We have eaten without a thought for the hungry.

We have spoken without an effort to understand others.

We have kept silence instead of telling the truth.

We have judged others, forgetful that you alone are the judge.

We have acted rather in accordance with our opinions than according to your commands.

Within your church we have been slow to practice love of our neighbors.

And in the world we have not been your faithful servants.

Forgive us and help us to live as disciples of Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Savior. Amen.

— BZ

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New prayer guide lives up to the ‘essential’ in its title

April 1, 2011

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To title a book “The Essential Guide to Catholic Prayer and the Mass” takes either courage or hubris. This new Alpha paperback by Mary DeTurris Poust lives up to its name.

Just over 300 pages and just $16.95, it could be a textbook for those on the journey to enter the Catholic Church, but even cradle Catholics will find it valuable when looking for a spiritual refresher course or a source of comfort in time of need.

What I liked best about this prayer guide was that it wasn’t dogmatic. It was authoritative without being authoritarian, often a lost trait in Catholic life in the 21st Century. Poust is clear:

“Pick 10 Catholics out of a group and ask them about their prayer lives, and you’re likely to get 10 very different answers. The bottom line is that there is no single prayer path to God. As long as you’re constantly striving to make a connection through some form of prayer, you’ll keep moving forward.”

Poust makes the great point that prayer didn’t start with Christianity or even Judaism. For as long as humans have walked the earth there’s been a drive to connect with something greater than us, she writes: “We’re hardwired for it.”

No rant, no slant

She solidly explains why Catholic prayer is different, and goes on to take a closer look at basic Catholic prayers and prayer life. None of it is ideologically slanted; it’s not liberal, it’s not conservative, it’s just Catholic.  And it’s extremely education oriented. Throughout there are pull-outs labeled “Definition,” “Prayer practice,” “Wisdom for the Journey,” and “Misc.” that add knowledge, flavor, and practical ideas to try, plus quotes from the famous and note-so-famous that bring a topic to life and make it real for anyone who sits in a church pew.

Each chapter concludes with “Essential Takeaways,” bullet points that reinforce the teaching of those last few pages.

Basic devotions to Mary, the Litany of the Saints, “Help form Holy Men and Women” like the prayers of St. Bernadette and St. Anthony of Padua will end up being “bookmarked” to return to when certain needs arise.

Mass gets treatment it deserves

Six full chapters explain the greatest Catholic prayer, the Mass. This portion of “The Essential Guide” is so well done, taking readers from the historical perspective through the gestures and postures, explaining the three basic parts of the Mass and the prayers in each, and helping readers understand the “why” behind the words and actions of the Eucharistic Liturgy.

This is an up-to-date primer on the Mass that explains what the coming changes to the liturgy will entail and why the church is making the changes.

It takes a welcome open-minded attitude toward modern technology, seeing the Internet and digital media as an asset that isn’t a threat but rather enhances prayer, connecting people in ways never before possible while still encouraging the closer relationships that face-to-face encounters provide.

Poust sees prayer possibilities everywhere, and she throws out for readers some things to try, including seeing household chores and eating as prayer, something I’d never have considered. Praying while walking is another suggestion. Rational, open-minded readers will appreciate her balanced explanation of the ancient tradition of walking a circular labyrinth in prayer:

“Some traditional Catholics are wary of the labyrinth, saying it’s a pagan tradition, while others emphasize its usefulness in teaching pray-ers to slow down and focus their thoughts not on achieving a spiritual goal, but on the journey itself.”

Finally, there’s a helpful glossary and an appendix that lists additional resources, plus an index. I could only see one weakness: the photography. The author’s columns, blogs and books are a testament that she’s an accomplished writer, but the photos here are, for the most part, simply the snapshots of a tourist. A book this good deserves professional photography.

But that’s such a minor issue. This maybe one of those books you find you keep close by, refer to constantly, and swear by because it has become so, well, essential. — bz

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