Prayer Routine: Month Four

It’s about four months since I started a new daily prayer routine. (February 19, 2017)

I sometimes forget the morning set, but not often. Having a printout of both sets next to my keyboard helps.

The evening prayers are another matter. Happily, I remember the gist of what’s between the Lord’s prayer and “glory be.” That lets me catch up: if I remember before falling asleep, which doesn’t always happen.

Blame, Bogeymen, and Responsibility

Wailing, moaning, and calling myself a wretched sinner, is an option. So is blaming Satan or Vatican II.

Invoking other bogeymen, I could blame my parents, society’s conventions, folks who don’t like Vatican II, or social media.

I don’t think any of that makes sense.

For one thing, nobody forced me to forget. I’m pretty sure I did that on my own.

I’ve got free will. I can make reasonable decisions, or not. I’m also responsible for my actions. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1730, 1735, 17771781)

How much responsibility comes with each decision is another question. We’re learning that psychological and other glitches can and do sometimes get in the way of clear thinking, and that’s another topic.1 (Catechism, 1735)

Feeling that God is smiting me with forgetfulness because my prayers are routine? I think that’s as unreasonable as holding someone else accountable for my shortcomings.2

Instead, each time I realize I goofed — again — I do what I can to catch up.

If I don’t remember until the next day, or if catching up isn’t possible for another reason, I try to avoid forgetting the next time around.

It’s not that I don’t care, or think that prayer doesn’t matter.

I’m sure that prayer is important, and don’t like it when I forget. I’m also quite sure that God knows I’m human, and takes that into account.

Routine Prayer

Prayers are supposed to be routine: like prayer before meals and during Mass. (Catechism, 1342, 13451405, 2698)

Folks have told me that prayers shouldn’t be memorized, that prayer should always be spontaneous. They have a point.

Prayer can be spontaneous. (Catechism, 2629)

Maybe their emphasis on spontaneous prayer came from realizing that prayer should be more than an unthinking habit.

‘Prayer’ shouldn’t be sounds I make in particular circumstances, without paying attention to what the words mean. That sort of thing isn’t prayer. Not in the Catholic sense.

“…To attribute the efficacy of prayers or of sacramental signs to their mere external performance, apart from the interior dispositions that they demand, is to fall into superstition.41
(Catechism, 2111)

Reducing prayer to nothing more than ritual words and postures is a bad idea. So is seeing it as merely psychological activity, or an effort to make my mind blank. (Catechism, 2726)

Prayer is a gift of grace. It’s also something I can’t do unless I decide it’s worth the effort. (Catechism, 2725)

And prayer does take effort.

I must fight attitudes I’ve learned from “this present world” each time I pray: pitfalls dug when time did not exist. Regrettable habits and attitudes I’ve developed give me trouble, too.3 (Catechism, 391395, 27252728)

Happily, there’s help available.

I have, if I bother to look, an inventory of spiritual aids accumulated over two millennia of Christian experience, built on a much deeper foundation. (Catechism, 26852690)

Memorized prayers are in the mix, along with reminders that it’s not just the words.

Thinking about what the words mean is important. (Catechism, 2688)

Often Hard, Always Possible

Prayer is always possible. (Catechism, 2743)

Anyone who has tried forming a habit of prayer knows that it’s not always easy:

“…There was a moment when I nearly refused to accept. — Deliberately I took the Rosary and very slowly and without even meditating or thinking – I said it slowly and calmly. The moment passed — but the darkness is so dark, and the pain is so painful….”
(Letter to Bishop Lawrence Trevor Picachy (September 1962), as quoted in Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light (2009) by Brian Kolodiejchuk, 2009, p. 238; via Wikiquote)

I think memorized prayers help at times like that. A lot.

That’s good, because living as a Christian without prayer doesn’t work. Prayer makes sharing the love Jesus has for us possible. (Catechism, 27422745)

Sharing our Lord’s love isn’t easy, either, and that’s yet another topic.

Posts, related and not so much:

1 Some of my view on mental health:

2 Imagining that God has anger management issues isn’t new. We’ve had a “distorted image” of God ever since the first of us made a disastrous choice. (Catechism, 399)

3 More of my take on:

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About Brian H. Gill

I was born in 1951. I'm a husband, father and grandfather. One of the kids graduated from college in December, 2008, and is helping her husband run businesses and raise my granddaughter; another is a cartoonist and artist; #3 daughter is a writer; my son is developing a digital game with #3 and #1 daughters. I'm also a writer and artist.
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2 Responses to Prayer Routine: Month Four

  1. irishbrigid says:

    Capitalization: “postures is a bad idea. so is seeing it as merely”

    The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

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