On her delightful blog “Monique Ocampo Writes” (which can be found at Patheos), a friend of mine asks: How do I pray? She describes her prayer routine, favorite devotions, things that help and things she struggles with. She examines the process of prayer and each person’s individual approach then finally asks her readers, “How do you pray?”
Here is my answer:
How do I pray?
My daily prayer routine is the Divine Office: Lauds, Noonday prayer, Vespers and Compline. If I get up early enough or wake up in the middle of the night, I do Office of Readings. My breviary is one of my favorite devotions because it opens up the word of God and immerses you in the emotions conveyed in the Psalms. It teaches you how to speak with God.
Singing is one of my favorite prayer forms so I get that into the Divine Office. I love singing in Latin, and praying in Latin. There is a background story to my love for this language, it is what made me interested in the Catholic Church! Sometimes when reciting the Divine Office on special feast days, I will burn candles and light incense. It clears my mind and imparts the tranquility of one sitting at the feet of God.
My best prayers are done before the Blessed Sacrament. There I can draw close to the heart of Jesus. It is really spending time with the One I love. My mind and heart are cleared so I can ponder God’s loveliness, evaluate the things of the spiritual world and see that I’m being asked to do. Staring into the lovely face of Jesus, I can unload all my problems and worries or I can shower praises on him, whatever strikes me at the moment. I make it to adoration once a month, which is definitely NOT enough at all but that’s what the local parishes offer. Therefore, I try to visit the tabernacle as much as possible, every day if possible.
I do a rosary every day but really struggle with it. It’s very difficult for me to stay focused on the mysteries and to find new things in them. Offering each decade up for a specific intention or looking at pictures helps me. Spreading devotion to the rosary is a big deal, if you need one, I have tons laying around at any given moment. I’ll teach you how to pray it too.
My spiritual life revolves around the Eucharist, the priesthood and the Mass. The sacrifice of Christ and his abiding presence are the pillars that hold me up. I take all my joys and sufferings and unite them to the sacrifice of the altar. The idea of the priest as “alter Christus” another Christ, helps me see God working in the world in a special way, offering freedom to sin-sick souls.
I can get very passionate and even stubborn about the Mass. The rituals and prayers of the liturgy are for me a profound display of Jesus’s love for us. Smells and bells? Yes please! It is important for me to retain continuity with the Church’s tradition and not to vex people with too many innovations that might interfere with the lessons God wishes to teach us.
I try to attend Mass three times a week or more. As I work until 11 at night, it’s hard for me to get up early. God has given me a special vocation to pray and intercede for his priests. It seems he may be calling me to religious life (pleased pray for me as I discern!)
Mary is very important to me, as a convert I still have difficulty relating to her. She is so perfect and beautiful. I also did the Marian consecration on the feast of the Immaculate Conception. The cathedral I was confirmed in was named for the Immac. Conception. The scapular I wear is the blue one, also for the Immac. Conception. See a pattern here?
St Hildegard is my patron saint. I chose her because of her brilliance and mystical relationship with God. St. Aloysius, John Paul II, St. Theresa of Avila, St. Philomena and St Therese are special to me, also St John the Evangelist whom I see as the perfect icon of the Catholic priest. My favorite ministries are youth ministry, catechism and anything involving the Eucharist. My favorite feast day is- you guessed it, Corpus Christi! My motto is: “All Eucharist, all the time!”
Now is the time to ask you: “How do you pray?”