Category : Prayer

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Book, Prayer, Spirituality
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On Prayer

In my family of voracious readers, we refer to the list of books we have lined up to read as “the queue.” So many books have been suggested in so many categories, they line up… and generally they’ll be read in the order in which they were received. Sadly, sometimes that line is longer and slower than the DMV because… well, time is limited.

your call is very important to us

Just this week, there was a series of coincidences [read: Holy Spirit] that led me to Ronald Rolheiser’s book Prayer: Our Deepest Longing (2013).  I recognized the author from working with ACTS Retreats, because Holy Longing (2009) – Fr. Rolheiser’s incredible book on Christian discipleship – has a chapter dedicated to Paschal Mystery spirituality, which is cited in the Director’s Manual, as it is at the heart of the ACTS Retreat.  Fr Rolheiser, OMI is president of the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, Texas, which is also the home of ACTS Missions.

ACTS & ACTSM

What happened was, Boston College’s School of Theology and Ministry Continuing Education has been advertising an opportunity to participate in a 5-week online book club on Prayer: Our Deepest Longing. BC STM’s Continuing Ed Facebook page had a video of Fr. Rolheiser offering some insights from his book on Prayer. The short video had me intrigued, but my “queue” is getting ridiculously long.

But, Holy Spirit.

So, I decided to try my first audiobook on “Audible,” I figured that I could listen while cleaning my kitchen, running errands, and what-have-you.  Although the rest of the world may have known the joys of audiobooks for years (especially while driving), it’s completely new to me.

Thank you, Holy Spirit; it was exactly what I needed!  To be honest, after listening to the first three chapters, I ordered a hard copy of the book just so I can underline and post-it-flag for easy reference.  It’s THAT good!

Prayer: Our Deepest Longing is a book that has already nourished my own prayer life, and it’s one I wholeheartedly recommend to anyone seeking to deepen their prayer life – from beginners to seasoned prayer warriors.  Read it, listen to it, or even consider trying BC’s online book club!

Somehow, Rolheiser manages to be both encouraging and challenging.  He had me at the preface:

There is no bad way to pray….[There’s] only one non-negotiable rule: You have to show up for prayer and you have to show up regularly.”

I hope you find a way to enjoy Prayer: Our Deepest Longing. If you do, come back and leave a comment about your favorite insights!

From Amazon’s website:

With simple, down-to-earth language, Rolheiser illustrates the importance of prayer and offers techniques for how to pray, using examples from daily life, Scripture, and contemporary writers. He delves into the places that we fear to go with our issues about prayer, encouraging us with gentle kindness and words of hope and inspiration.

The book is divided into five sections.

  • Why Pray? Illustrates the purposes and benefits of prayer for ourselves, as well as for the broader Catholic community and even the world.
  • Why Is It so Hard? Notes how our contemporary culture conspires against taking time out for solitude and prayer, and how our own ego—with its fears, restlessness, and narcissism—can work against developing a deeper relationship with God through prayer.
  • What Is Prayer? Outlines the two basic types of prayer, that is, affective (personal) and priestly (for the world). Describes the many ways or methods for each type of prayer, such as meditation, contemplation, the divine office, the Mass, and Scripture.
    Sticking with It. This section covers the development of mature prayer, discussing ways to pray in times of boredom, disillusionment, crisis, helplessness, or after a loved one’s death.
  • Mysticism. Here we learn about this increasingly popular form of intimate relationship with God.

This is a book for all manner of believers, whether your faith is solidly rooted, wavering between childhood religion and adult faith, or just not sure what you believe—or whether you believe at all. It addresses topics such as narcissism, pragmatism, efficiency, and self-gratification that work against a healthy spiritual life. Rolheiser takes us to a place of contact and comfort, in relationship not only with God but with our true selves as well.

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O Root of Jesse
Advent, Article, Prayer
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December 19 – O Root of Jesse

December 19
O Root of Jesse’s stem,
sign of God’s love for all his people:
come to save us without delay!

19 O-Root-of-Jesse

O Radix Jesse: O Flower of Jesse’s stem, you have been raised up as a sign for all peoples; kings stand silent in your presence; the nations bow down in worship before you. Come, let nothing keep you from coming to our aid. Isaiah had prophesied, But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom. (Isaiah 11:1), and A On that day, the root of Jesse, set up as a signal for the nations, the Gentiles shall seek out, for his dwelling shall be glorious. (Isaiah 11:10). Remember also that Jesse was the father of King David, and Micah had prophesied that the Messiah would be of the house and lineage of David and be born in Davids city, Bethlehem (Micah 5:1).  (From Catholic Resource Education Center)

In case you missed, December 17 begins the O Antiphons, with  O Wisdom. While working on a project for St. Mary’s Press, I came across artwork by the Benedictine Sisters of Turvey Abbey that captures the vibrant and joyful anticipation of Advent in the O Antiphons.  These images and reflections from the Catholic Resource Education Center are so beautiful, I needed to share!

The O Antiphons are seven brief sentences that highlight a title for the Messiah and a prophecy of Isaiah about the coming of the Messiah.  Part of the liturgical tradition since the very early Church, these beautiful theological statements are prayed in Vespers, or evening prayer, during the last days of Advent, from December 17-23. For more information about the artwork, visit the McCrimmons, a UK  Publishing Company.

 

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O Adonai
Advent, Prayer
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December 18th – O Adonai!

December 18

O Leader of the House of Israel,
giver of the Law to Moses on Sinai:
come to rescue us with your mighty power!

18 O-Adonai

O Adonai: O sacred Lord of ancient Israel, who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush, who gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain: come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free. Isaiah had prophesied, But He shall judge the poor with justice, and decide aright for the lands afflicted. He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked. Justice shall be the band around his waist, and faithfulness a belt upon his hips. (Isaiah 11:4-5); and Indeed the Lord will be there with us, majestic; yes the Lord our judge, the Lord our lawgiver, the Lord our king, he it is who will save us. (Isaiah 33:22). (From Catholic Resource Education Center)

In case you missed, December 17 begins the O Antiphons, with  O Wisdom. While working on a project for St. Mary’s Press, I came across artwork by the Benedictine Sisters of Turvey Abbey that captures the vibrant and joyful anticipation of Advent in the O Antiphons.  These images and reflections from the Catholic Resource Education Center are so beautiful, I needed to share!

The O Antiphons are seven brief sentences that highlight a title for the Messiah and a prophecy of Isaiah about the coming of the Messiah.  Part of the liturgical tradition since the very early Church, these beautiful theological statements are prayed in Vespers, or evening prayer, during the last days of Advent, from December 17-23. For more information about the artwork, visit the McCrimmons, a UK  Publishing Company.

 

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Psalm 150 Beach Meme
Faith, Joy, Life, Prayer, Scripture, Spirituality
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What is my Psalm?

Biking around my NASA affiliated Houston neighborhood is one of my simple joys.  When neighbors ask if we’re “the family that bikes to Church,” I smile with delight and gratitude.  Yes. Yes, we are.

Honestly, this isn’t something that I would instinctively insert into my daily prayer.  Yet, studying the Psalms has prompted me to ask at any given moment: What is my Psalm?  This simple question helps integrate prayerful conversation with God into the ordinary moments of daily life.

To pray in the style of the Psalms – or to pray using the words of the Psalms themselves – it’s helpful to know a little background.

The Book of Psalms is a collection of prayers and songs from throughout Israel’s history.  They are prayerful responses to real, specific life experiences.  And as varied as our life experiences may be on any given day, so are the Psalms!  This variety and connection to life is why the Psalms were so often sung and prayed in worship by the ancient Israelites, sung and prayed by Jesus and the apostles, and continue to be sung and prayed by us today.

Acknowledging simple joys with a Psalm of Praise is a beautiful way to recognize God’s presence in all things.

How?

Begin by inviting praise, such as: “Let us praise God!” Then articulate the specific reasons for praising God in that moment. And conclude by recapping the praise.

Look at how Psalm 117 – which is the shortest Psalm, with only two verses – provides a great example of this basic structure:

Praise and Psalm 117

As I bike through my neighborhood, if I were to use the words from Scripture, I might recite the final verse of Psalm 150

Psalm 150 Meme

But the beautiful gift of the Psalms is how they also teach us how to pray our own Psalm of Praise.

Praise God

For my adorable green bike

For its form and its function

and its matching green basket

For the ability to ride

For my wonderful neighborhood

For biking to the homes of friends,

to fun at the pool,

to Church,

to Starbucks,

to CVS.

For the opportunities I have

to share this with my family

whom I love

For all that I have; for all that I am,

Praise God

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Ask yourself: What is my Psalm?  And then say it, write it, sing it, pray it.

For more Wisdom of the Psalms, be sure to subscribe by entering your email on the sidebar.

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Rose in the garden
Prayer
1

“The Rose”

For the longest time, our family dinner conversation was…painfully boring, and not for a lack of trying.  We ate dinner together as a family regularly, but we have young kids who were neither contributing to the conversation nor responding to unending questions: “How was your day?”  “What did you work on?”  “Who did you sit with at lunch?”  “What did you do in P.E.?”  To be honest, my husband wasn’t a lot better: “Fine… Had a never-ending meeting for [acronym-laced-NASA-project].”

We wanted our family dinner time to be an experience of community.  Sometimes fun and joyful.  Sometimes serious.  Often something in-between.  Really, we just wanted more quality in our time together.  And it just wasn’t happening.


  • Can you relate?  When it comes to cultivating quality conversations with your loved ones, what are your successes?  What are your struggles?


When I shared my frustration about what felt like a missed-opportunity with my dear friend Heidi, she shared an approach to dinner-time conversation called “The Rose.”  It is prayerful, it is diverse, it is easy to do, and it enriches the whole experience of dinner-time conversation.  Did I mention it’s prayerful?

Heidi learned from Sara, who learned it from a family retreat…  It is so simple and so powerful that I wrote about it in Chapter 10 “Prayer as Conversation,” in my new book Continuing the Journey.  And it is in this rich tradition of passing on fantastic ideas that I share it with you.



Painting of Rose, bud, thorn, and roots

“The Rose” is a loose adaptation of St. Ignatius Loyola’s Examen.

At the dinner table, one person leads by being the first to share their “rose,” and then invites everyone else to follow suit.  The reflection continues with each person’s “bud,” “thorn,” and “root.”

  • Rose – the parts of your day that you are thankful for
  • Bud – something you are looking forward to in the coming days or weeks
  • Thorn – a difficult part of your day (that you might ask God’s help with)
  • Root – someone or something you are hoping and praying for

We conclude our dinner-time conversation by saying, “Thank you for our rose, bless our bud, hear our root, and help us with our thorn.”  (Continuing the Journey page 43)

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