Tuesday, August 06, 2002

The Devotional Life

A number of bloggers have been discussing prayer and various devotions, particularly the Liturgy of the Hours and the Rosary. I have to agree with this thought on Disputations: if a devotion isn't helping you advance in holiness, then maybe you shouldn't keep that devotion.

When I rediscovered my Catholic faith during college, I began to explore the many devotions thriving in the Church today. Like many, I found the whole thing overwhelming and attempted to make too many devotions part of my life -- to the point where they weren't helping me. I'm sure I'm not the only one, for example, with a copy of the Liturgy of the Hours on my bookshelf that rarely gets used. During law school, I became inspired to fill an empty journal book a friend gave me with prayers. It quickly took a formal structure, divided into sets for each day of the week and a collection of liturgies and an extended Ave Maria to be used any time. Each daily set took the following structure:

(1) a short acclamation of faith;
(2) an ancient or traditional prayer of the Church;
(3) a creed or statement of faith;
(4) a prayer reflecting on Christ's passion;
(5) a long prayer, usually of a saint;
(6) a prayer reflecting on the Blessed Sacrament;
(7) a prayer of praise;
(8) a prayer to the Holy Spirit;
(9) an act of contrition;
(10) a prayer for the Church;
(11) a prayer for the souls of purgatory; and
(12) a prayer asking for a specific saint's intercession.
The prayers are either traditional prayers of the Church, prayers of saints, or prayers written by me. (I've been drawn back to these prayers and am in the process of completing the final prayers.) For me, this approach seems to combine that structure I crave and need with some of the more charismatic and free-form prayer that is part of my faith journey. In the end, I find it gives me that foundation from which I am more likely to pray than any other devotion I have tried to adopt. I would be curious to hear what approaches other people have taken with respect to devotionals and giving form to their prayer life.

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