Friday, January 4, 2008

A Mother's Rule of Life- Chapter 3

The First P- Prayer

As I had posted previously a priest told Holly about the 5 P's or priorities of a married woman. The first and most serious is prayer. Without prayer our relationship with God suffers or becomes non-existent.
Holly was still lost and searching for something which she calls the "something search". I personally feel all people feel that need to fill their hearts with something and that something is God. If we try to fill it with anything else, money, power, popularity, drugs etc., we are left empty and most likely worse off than we were before we tried to fill the void. The only thing that brings true satisfaction, peace, joy or contentment is our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. With this in mind prayer becomes the way we get to know God and mold our lives to his will. For Catholics pray takes on many forms.
We have Vocal Prayer:

-Catechism of the Catholic Church 2701
Vocal prayer is an essential element of the Christian life. To his disciples, drawn by their Master's silent prayer, Jesus teaches a vocal prayer, the Our Father. He not only prayed aloud the liturgical prayers of the synagogue but, as the Gospels show, he raised his voice to express his personal prayer, from exultant blessing of the Father to the agony of Gesthemani.


Contemplative Prayer :

-Catechism of the Catholic Church 2713
Contemplative prayer is the simplest expression of the mystery of prayer. It is a gift, a grace; it can be accepted only in humility and poverty. Contemplative prayer is a covenant relationship established by God within our hearts. Contemplative prayer is a communion in which the Holy Trinity conforms man, the image of God, "to his likeness."

Prayer should be done even when our emotions do not "feel like it" for as her professor, Father Tom Daley, explained " precedes love. The laws that God imposes on us from the outside are meant to discipline us, to help our hearts grow into the laws of love which motivates us from within" So even when we do not feel like or we feel spiritually dry we still need to obey and pray. Holly has described obedience to God as being in two parts the first is to submit yourself to Him and the commands of His Church and by avoiding sin. The next step would be to obey "by practicing the virtues and striving to imitate Jesus consciously"

So as women trying to follow our rule we need to determine what we think is the minimum
amount of prayer and the forms they take and plug them into our daily schedule. I like to start the day with a Morning Offering and then some scripture study, followed by a Rosary at mid-day and an examination of conscience at the end of the day. I also pray throughout the day for the people in my life as I go about my daily tasks.

Here are some great quotes from the CCC about prayer:

-Catechism of the Catholic Church 2616
Prayer to Jesus is answered by him already during his ministry, through signs that anticipate the power of his death and Resurrection: Jesus hears the prayer of faith, expressed in words (the leper, Jairus, the Canaanite woman, the good thief) or in silence (the bearers of the paralytic, the woman with a hemorrhage who touches his clothes, the tears and ointment of the sinful woman). The urgent request of the blind men, "Have mercy on us, Son of David" or "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" has-been renewed in the traditional prayer to Jesus known as the Jesus Prayer: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!" Healing infirmities or forgiving sins, Jesus always responds to a prayer offered in faith: "Your faith has made you well; go in peace."

- Catechism of the Catholic Church 2613
Three principal parables on prayer are transmitted to us by St. Luke:
- The first, "the importunate friend," invites us to urgent prayer: "Knock, and it will be opened to you." To the one who prays like this, the heavenly Father will "give whatever he needs," and above all the Holy Spirit who contains all gifts.
- The second, "the importunate widow," is centered on one of the qualities of prayer: it is necessary to pray always without ceasing and with the patience of faith. "And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?"
- The third parable, "the Pharisee and the tax collector," concerns the humility of the heart that prays. "God, be merciful to me a sinner!" The Church continues to make this prayer its own: Kyrie eleison!

-Catechism of the Catholic Church 2598
The drama of prayer is fully revealed to us in the Word who became flesh and dwells among us. To seek to understand his prayer through what his witnesses proclaim to us in the Gospel is to approach the holy Lord Jesus as Moses approached the burning bush: first to contemplate him in prayer, then to hear how he teaches us to pray, in order to know how he hears our prayer.

-Catechism of the Catholic Church 2559
"Prayer is the raising of one's mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God." But when we pray, do we speak from the height of our pride and will, or "out of the depths" of a humble and contrite heart? He who humbles himself will be exalted; humility is the foundation of prayer, Only when we humbly acknowledge that "we do not know how to pray as we ought," are we ready to receive freely the gift of prayer. "Man is a beggar before God."

Our whole life can be a prayer but to put prayer first in our lives we must set aside time each day, preferably first thing in the morning to pray and talk with God. You could make a Morning Offering , read Sacred Scripture, attend Mass, find time for Eucharistic Adoration, there is even a great magazine designed after the Liturgy of the Hours called MAGNIFICAT. There are so many ways to pray.

Holly had a lot of spiritual questions and even thought about being anything but Catholic, because she never felt close to God when she was a Catholic in her early years. She started to ask questions and seriously look for answers. She found that the Catholic Church had the answers to all her questions. She makes the statement " I could draw upon the writings and wisdom of the Church teaching and popes and saints throughout history and soon realized I would never exhaust the wisdom of Catholicism in my lifetime." We are so lucky as Catholics to have such a rich tradition to draw from such as:

The Imitation of Christ by à Kempis Thomas

Interior Castle by St. Teresa of Avila

The Way of Perfection by St. Teresa of Avila


and many, many more.


Nancy Parode said...

Thanks for this thought-provoking and helpful post. I especially appreciate the links at the end...what wonderful morning reading!

Tracy said...

Awesome post Erika!! I totally agree that Prayer must come first, but it took me many years to really understand that and even now, I must remind myself that Prayer first.. what a wonderful post, I will be reflecting on this today... thank you!

TheDen said...


Great post.

Prayer is vital. I've heard it explained that if a married couple were to only talk for one hour each week, do you think the marriage would be successful?

Well, prayer is our communication with God. And it needs to be constant.

In addition to the time we set aside for God--which I totally agree with--we have to be always in prayer. What that means is that everything I do and everything I say points to God. All that's done is done for the greater glory of God.

I believe that's what contemplative prayer is. It's to so completely transform yourself so that you and Christ are one which can only be done in humility and poverty. (Paragraphs 2711/2713).

Poverty doesn't mean that we have to be monetarily poor. What I believe it means is that we must be "poor in spirit" per the Beatitudes. Which means that we must rely on God for holiness. That nothing comes from us, it all comes from God.

Erika S. said...

Thank you guys. I really enjoyed writing this one.

Theden- I totally agree with you about prayer being constant and on going, making each and every action a prayer or sacrifice to God. It is very hard to accompolish but with time I hope to get it. Reading introduction to the devout life right now and it is about just that thing how to live in prayer, to be devout even though we live in the "world" as compared to living a cloistered life as a nun. I highly recommend that along with Holiness for Housewives by Hubert von Zeller as futher reading on busy lives and prayer.