Friday, August 27, 2010

Prayers Over the Kitchen Sink

We've got two sheets of paper taped to the window frame, over the kitchen sink. One of them's been there for a while, the other went up a few days ago.

The older, more wrinkled, one is a meditation for someone who has received the Eucharist earlier in the day. The new one is a prayer request from someone I met on Twitter.

Both are there to remind members of this family to pray: meditating on what's happened that day at Mass; and asking for help with someone's health issue.

The window over our kitchen sink isn't particularly "spiritual." It's one place in the house where we all stop at least once a day: which makes it a good place to post reminders. In these cases, to pray.

What is Prayer?

One thing prayer is not is 'making God do things for me.' I heard somewhere that prayer is more about conforming our hearts to God, than bending His will to ours.

Here's a somewhat more detailed (and official) definition of Catholic prayer:
" 'Prayer is the raising of one's mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God.'2 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?3 He who humbles himself will be exalted;4 humility is the foundation of prayer. Only when we humbly acknowledge that 'we do not know how to pray as we ought,'5 are we ready to receive freely the gift of prayer. 'Man is a beggar before God.'6"
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2559)
There's quite a bit more on the subject, of course. (Catechism 2558-2565, for starters)

Prayers by the Bushel

As a practicing Catholic, I've got quite a selection of kinds of prayers to choose from:
  • Novenas, sets of prayers to be said over a nine-day period
  • Short, informal, prayers of the "please help me find those keys" sort
  • Long-established memorized prayers like the St. Michael's prayer
    • I'll get back to that one
  • The set of prayers we call "the Rosary"
  • The Lord's Prayer
    • Which is part of the Rosary
There are prayers to be said when getting up in the morning, before meals (my family does that), prayers to be said at particular times during the day: after about two millennia of accumulated traditions, a person could probably find prayers for every waking moment.

After a few hours, that'd be hard on the throat. And leave no time for anything else.

Some religious orders do a very great deal of praying. You might say "it's what they do."

Apart from the meal-time prayers, I don't have prayers that I say at fixed intervals during the day. It's not that I think it's a bad idea: it's just that I haven't seen any clear instruction that I should.

On the other hand, for years now I've prayed the St. Michael's prayer whenever I hear a siren: plus a few words, asking help for whoever's responding to an emergency. Those words have to be pretty generic, sometimes, since I can't tell what sort of emergency vehicle the siren's mounted on: but I figure the heavenly analog of dispatchers can sort it out.

Later tonight, when I do the dishes that need hand-washing, I'll put in a word about that prayer request I read on Twitter. It's no big deal: just part of being a Catholic.

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From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.