I turned 53 today – a good time to thank God for all his blessings contained within the gift of life itself.
He came to his own domain and his own people did not accept him.
But to all who did accept him he gave power to become children of God.
Where do we get this power to be real and effective children of God in an increasingly secular world? First and foremost, we get it from Holy Mass on Sundays and Holy Days when we are fed by the table of God’s Word and the Eucharist.
But this isn’t enough. We need daily nourishment and we get this from our personal prayer life. Thus I asked those present to commit by way of a New Year’s resolution to giving God a minimum of 20 minutes a day. Here were some supporting points I made:
- How much time do we spend watching TV, on mobile phones and computers or reading papers and magazines? Additionally most of these have either a neutral or negative spiritual content.
- We can use walks and driving time for prayer. Furthermore we do the 20 minutes in segments throughout the day if we are busy.
- If our destiny is to spend eternity with God, then surely 20 minutes a day is not out of proportion with this.
- I copied material from the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church about the importance of prayer. This can be easily looked up online.
- There is no one right way to pray; we should pray as we can, not as we can’t.
- An ideal way to spend 20 minutes in prayer is to say the Rosary.
- If we pray with our families, then we have the extra bonus of ‘A family that prays together, stays together.’
- Ideally we should have a set of Morning and Evening prayers. These can be looked up in the internet if necessary. I have copied below a sample sheet that I left at the bottom of the church. (It would need reformatting to be printed off.)
- Distractions do not detract from prayer. God sees our efforts to be focused and the extra sacrifice involved makes our time with him more precious.
- Spiritual direction from a priest or an experienced ‘pray-er’ is useful.
- I mentioned the Magnificat magazine as a useful aid.
- Listening to Christian music is prayer which is the lifting up of the mind and heart to God.
PRAYER IN THE MORNING, EVENING & DURING THE DAY
On Waking: In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
Lord of the world, you have brought me safe from the dark. I bless you for the light of my eyes Glory be to the Father, etc.
Holy Spirit Prayer: Come O Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and enkindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit O Lord and they shall be created and you shall renew the face of the earth.
O God who by the light of the Holy Spirit do instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant by that same Spirit we may become truly wise and ever rejoice in His consolation, through Christ our Lord, Amen
Psalm 62 (Longing for God)
O God, you are my God, for you I long / For you my soul is thirsting.
My body pines for you / Like a dry weary land without water.
So I gaze on you in the sanctuary /to see your strength and your glory.
For your love is better than life / My lips will speak your praise.
So I will bless you all my life, / In your name I will lift up my hands,
My soul shall be filled with a banquet / My mouth shall praise you with joy.
On my bed I remember you, / On you I muse through the night,
For you have been my help; / In the shadow of your wings I rejoice.
My soul clings to you; / Your right hand holds me fast.
Invocations: Lord Jesus, as this new day begins, I remember that you are risen; And therefore I look to the future with confidence. I bless you Lord, and I thank you. Let the love of the Virgin Mary be with me, so that I may consecrate this day to you. I bless you Lord, and thank you. I pray for cheerfulness and a generous heart; May I bring you joy to my home, to my work, and to all whom I meet. I bless you, Lord, and thank you.
(Say an Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be.)
Blessing: The Lord bless us, and keep us from all evil, and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
PRAYER DURING THE DAY
It is easy to lift up your minds and heart to God during the day by the use of frequent short prayers (or aspirations). Find a short prayer for yourself, one that suits you, and repeat it over and over until it becomes part of you, as natural to you as breathing. There are many such prayers in scripture and tradition. For example: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me a sinner”, or “Sacred Heart of Jesus I place my trust in you”. These prayers can be said out loud or silently.
Timed Prayers: Traditionally Catholics pray the Angelus at noon and 6PM. There is also the Divine Mercy prayer said at 3PM to commemorate Jesus’ death on the Cross: You expired Jesus but the source of life gushed forth for souls and an ocean of mercy opened up for the whole world. O fount of life and unfathomed Divine Mercy, envelope the whole world and empty yourself out upon us. O blood and water which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fount of mercy for us, I trust in you.
Blessing Prayers: Another way to walking in God’s presence is by making a short prayer to suit each activity of your day. Use your imagination to make such little blessings for yourself, and teach children to do the same. For example after a fault or sin: “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me a sinner and make me humble”.
Against trouble: “Jesus Lord, be my rock and my strength.
For a pure heart: O Mary by thy pure and Immaculate Conception keep my body pure and my soul holy.
Before travelling: Be with us in our goings and comings and keep us safe from all harm. Send your angels to protect us.
Passing a Cemetery: Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. (This may also be said when the death of a person comes up in conversation or in the news.)
Finally, turn your attention to the talk that is continually going on in your head. You are nearly continually mentally with someone or other. Sometimes you are talking to others, rehearsing what you would like to say to them – as often as not, putting them in their place! At other times you are talking to yourself. The rest of the time you are talking to no one in particular, commenting on events and situations as they happen- “This is lovely”, “Brr, it’s cold!”
With a little quiet deliberation it is possible to address this inner conversation to God and turn it into continual, homely, and often humorous, prayer.
Anger for example, will not merely eat into you and frustrate you; it will become an occasion for growing into truth and understanding: “Lord, calm me down. Free me from this helpless rage. Help me to understand. Bless that person who just upset me.” Happiness is enhanced by being turned into thanksgiving: “Thank you Lord, for…”. When Our Lord said we ought to pray always, he was not urging the impossible.
EVENING AND NIGHT PRAYERS
There may be as many forms of family prayers as there are families that pray. The Family Rosary has been traditional for centuries past and is still a very popular family prayer form. Some families have communal reading of and reflection on the Sacred Scriptures (particularly the Sunday or Daily Mass Readings), followed by a decade of the Rosary.
It is important to put a little creative effort into developing an atmosphere suitable to prayerful recollection. Consider the following suggestions:
Have a crucifix or a good picture/icon of Mary, the Mother of God, hanging in a prominent place in the room where family prayer is recited.
Place a lighted candle in front of it for the duration of prayer. This serves the double function of focusing attention on the crucifix or picture, while at the same time, reminding the family that Christ the Light of the World is present wherever two or more gather in His name.
Evening Examination of Conscience and Plea for Mercy
Lord, forgive us all the wrong we have done this day,
Forgive us if we have been bad tempered or hard to live with.
Forgive us if we have hurt those we should love.
Forgive us if we have made life more difficult for anyone.
Forgive us for any word of comfort or praise or thanks which we might have spoken and did not speak.
Forgive us for any help we might have given to someone in need and did not give; tomorrow may we see you in everybody we meet.
Lord, we pray tonight for all people:
for the believer and for the unbeliever;
for those who are trying to find you and cannot;
for those who are trying to ignore you;
Bless those who are lonely, and who feel their loneliness worst of all at evening time.
Bless those who are old or sick, or who will not sleep tonight.
Bless those who will die tonight, be present to them as the Good Shepherd.
Bless all homes and families, and bless those who have no homes of their own. May the Holy Family of Nazareth be their model and inspiration.
Give us all restful sleep, and the peace of heart that comes from knowing that we are always in the hands of you, our Heavenly Father. Amen.
Prayer to Guardian Angel
O Angel of God my guardian dear,
To whom God’s love commits me here,
Ever this night be at my side,
To light and guard, to rule and guide.
Serenity Prayer: Lord give me the courage to change the things I can change, the serenity to accept what I cannot change and the wisdom to know the difference.
Ask God’s blessing now (in your own words) upon your family, friends and enemies, on the living and the dead.
Be present, O merciful God, and protect us during the silent hours of this night, so that we who are wearied by the toil and uncertainties of this passing world may find rest and refreshment in your unchanging love.
And let your blessing be always upon us. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.