Are you too anxious to pray? Finding it hard to concentrate? Here is a simple practice to help you do something that is so contrary to the way we normally run from pain and hunger after pleasure.
Breathing in, breathing in your own evil, sickness, disappointment, not measuring-up, anxiety, disordered passions, thoughts and feelings. Imagine all this as darkness or a lost homeless child. Feel sympathy for yourself, sweet affection, loving kindness, gratitude.
Breathing out, bless the darkness with Jesus: “The Lord’s peace be with you.”
An “Anytime” Prayer
You can do this exercise when you find yourself anxious and you don’t know why, when you’re in a situation and you feel out of control, when you are afraid of the future or threatened in the present or regretful about the past.
Do this for your family, the world, the Church, all those suffering from COVID-19, all the health care workers who are putting their lives at risk, all those who are dying. Breathe in all their fear, all their love, all their worry… Bless them with the peace of Christ.
Do the same for events in the past: people, losses, abuse, the consequences of decisions made by you or others. Do it for everything you reject about your life, appearance, character, health, opportunities, personality, holiness. Do it also for everything that overwhelms you, for the way you feel irrelevant, uncertain, bewildered, fearful of dying, of death, of disappearing.
A Psalm to Pray
I love Nan Merrill’s paraphrase of Psalm 40 found in her book Psalms for Praying:
In your mercy, O Beloved deliver me!
O Love, make haste to help me!
Let my fears be put to rest,
fears that separate me from You.
Let all that keeps me from love,
from peace and gratitude,
be transformed within me. (page 78)
I have learned this month that there is nothing to fix, everything to love. Even in this pandemic when the world’s order is now turned to dust, there is everything to love, to be grateful for. Because Jesus is here. There is mystery in all that is happening, a mystery that is beyond the mind’s comprehension. Breathing peace is breathing the fire of choosing what is good for all, for the whole, before I claim what is good for me. Mystery is about putting God first. The other first. About remaining in silent wonder at what is being brought about before our very eyes. Yes. Let all that keeps me from this wonder be transformed within me that I might truly be de-centered, and re-centered around God’s glory in whatever way he desires that to be manifested in my blessedly insignificant life. (From Sr. Kathryn’s blog)
Keep praying, keep singing,
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Don’t try to get all your prayers in…GET INTO your prayers! Sing them and pray twice! Sing the prayers of the saints, scripture and the Church.
Contemporary Catholic Music Meets Traditional Catholic Prayers.
…by singing it to a catchy melody.
Get a song/prayer “stuck in your head”…
…and pray all day, effecting all eternity.
Relearn old, familiar and popular prayers of the Church…
…with music both you AND your kids will like. Pray like the great saints have prayed.