Praise Him with the Shakuhachi

  Since childhood, I expressed keen interest in Eastern Asian culture. As I grew older, some of this interest faded yet one thing which always stayed with me was a love for traditional Chinese and Japanese music, and especially the … Continue reading

How Do I Pray?

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?”


When Jesus Prayed


Awake, watching, praying, before he would make his sacrifice on that hallowed day, Jesus, Our Lord, thought of us. His one possession, his chosen people, his beloved Bride, he lifted up before the face of His Father. For the whole of humanity, he heaved and sighed. Having all the glory of true God and true man, he makes himself small, meek, vulnerable. His human nature shivers, beholding the divine. His divine nature gazes with compassion on the human.

The sinless, loaded with our burdens, the deathless, tasting our brokenness and the immutable, amidst our world of frivolity, hatred and chaos. Our Savior! Our pleading, praying Savior! How did he feel when pondering the cross to come, trembling in his vestments of flesh before history’s greatest sacrifice? His churning soul felt all our fear, our insecurities, toils, needs and longings. His strong hands which crafted, carved, blessed, absolved, fed the poor, cured the sick, drove out demons, folded most-lovingly. Our sweet oblation bowed his sweet head.

O pleading Savior, beg freedom for your people in exile. Make our prayers your very own!

Old Love Song.

With a quizzical look, I gazed upon the Baltimore Catechism. The clear format stood out as well as the obviously dated pictures. In garish black and red, stood a picture of a priest, facing away from the viewer, his arms lifting up a round host. He wore an elaborate chasuble. Three stripes dotted with tiny designs crossed his back. I instantly remembered seeing a chasuble just like it while hearing a Latin Mass back in Peoria. At that time, it was green, not red and the priest faced towards us during the consecration.

Yes, the Novus Ordo, in Latin. Like a dreamlike chimera, it remained ever elusive, something belonging only to special television shows and obscure parishes. By God’s grace was I able to see it. Yearning filled my heart. My eyes grew sorrowful and heavy as plaintive chant escaped my lips: “Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.”

The familiar melody! It seemed I sang it at Mass yesterday. But in reality it has been a long time. Too long. I let out a deep sigh. An old love song dearly missed, it played on and on in my head.

A Glimmer of Hope

November, 5, 2014

Before Mass, I stopped in the main church to chant vespers in front of the tabernacle. Then I sat out in the vestibule to quietly finish reading a chapter from the documents of Vatican II. It was my aim to re-read the documents for the second time so I may understand the Church’s teachings better and perhaps gain more charity towards our struggle in modern times. I’d arrived very early. Though the church remained silent, little movement here and there, I couldn’t concentrate. The words clumped on the page like a thick cord, tied together, tedious and undecipherable.

Suddenly, I saw my parish priest. He entered the sanctuary and the door closed behind him. After several minutes I decided to go visit with Our Lord again. Upon opening the door, I saw Fr. knelt down in a far pew, his head bowed in prayer. Happiness shot through me like a current of electricity. It was quite unexpected for me to see him praying silently before Mass- in fact this was the first time. I dared not enter and disturb him!
From behind the glass doors of the church, I gazed on his lonely figure, hunched over, exhausted, and surrendering. Though he was an oft proud and talkative man, I couldn’t help but feel a deep empathy for him. Yes, he once fought my suggestion to go visit Jesus in the tabernacle, claiming that Our Lord was everywhere- but now he was doing it! His lips were silent. His weathered, tan hands folded gently. His appearance under the gauzy light of the setting sun, wearing lay clothes- but a priest nonetheless, reminded me of Christ’s lasts moments in the garden. There, he pleaded with his father. There, the restless one rested from his labor. There, he would, at last, find strength. 

A great anticipation seized me. My head swam with thoughts. My heart pounded. For so long, I’d prayed for this, that Christ would draw this priest to him and speak to his heart. I begged the Lord to make him stop and visit. If I had to suffer the pains of poverty, emptiness and sharp loneliness of this past year just in order for this moment, perhaps it was all worth it. Perhaps his emptiness would be filled because of mine? I wanted desperately the salvation of this man’s soul and felt that perhaps now, a hulking milestone was being removed, a great mass of ice being slowly softened. There are seldom prayers more fervent than the ones I prayed in those next minutes. Prayers of relief, gladness, thanksgiving and intercession.