October 25, 2010

What's the Rush: Prayer?

My friend, Bede, and I went to lunch a while back and we prayed before the meal “Bless Us O Lord”. Well, I prayed it; Bede, a convert, was still learning the prayer at the time. When the prayer was finished and we started digging into the meal, Bede queried: “Why do Catholics always rush thru prayers?”

Good question.

In my family, we always rush thru the prayer before meals too. It tooks years before I realized they were not saying “and these thy GUESTS” but “gifts” LOL. Maybe our guests felt blessed. Maybe that’s why they always came over? Nah, it was my Mom’s baking. I, remember, wondering at some point in my life: “What’s the big hurry?” “Are we ashamed of our prayer?” “Are we ashamed to pray?” “Are we THAT hungry?”

I know I occasionally rush thru prayers-especially the ones I know very well. I rush thru the Rosary. I rush thru the Divine Mercy Chaplet. I’m ashamed to admit that I occasionally do so because I’ve got other things to do. I probably think I have better things to do than pray. No, probably about it. Why else would I act that way? What is the rush?

As Catholics our familiar prayers should be savored and treasured not rushed thru. A wise priest I know will occasionally, as a Penance, task me with reciting a particular prayer just once but very slowly and meditatively. Think about each word. What does it mean? I’m grateful for this Penance. I’m sad to say it gives me an “excuse” for actually praying slowly.

Converts to our Faith have enough challenges understanding Catholic Doctrine without adding inaudible prayers to the mix. The Lord gave us words for a reason. We are not Babel. The Faith is something we can all understand regardless of language but it helps to be able to actually hear the Faith. Even the deaf who sign prayers should not rush thru it.

Familiar prayers, of which Catholicism is very wealthy, should be comforting not hurried. Would you rush thru a visit with your Mom? Maybe if you can’t stand her. But, if you truly loved her you’d savor every minute and not feel like you need to rush out the door to something more exciting. I’d give anything to have moments with my Mom back. I think I should treat every moment of prayer like it could be my last. Treasure it.


Blogger Chris said...

Brava! Brava!

(loud applause....)

That was an excellent reminder, Cathy. We rush through so much of life as it is. Why rush through our most important conversations?


October 25, 2010 1:27 PM  
Blogger ArchAngel's Advocate said...

We said the prayer before meals so fast I thought (until high school) that we were rattling off Latin. And the Rosary at a wake seems to be over in 10 minutes (all 5 Decades. I fooled my family at my mother's wake by stretching it out to 30. It's supposed to be meditative, isn't it?)

October 25, 2010 2:49 PM  
Blogger Ray from MN said...

Yeah but, sometimes time is of the essence and an "Emergency Rosary" is called for.

Never heard of it? It's slick and legal. Just use the "emergency version" of the Hail Mary:

"Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our deaths. Amen."

I've been told that before the first apparition the three children of Fatima were saying the Portuguese version of it.

But that's only for emergencies. Cath, your thoughts on thoughtful prayer are excellent and important.

Some confessors are in the habit of issuing a penance of one Hail Mary or one Our Father.

But you are to do it very, very, slowly. And meditate upon each word or phrase. It could take hours if your really do it right.

October 25, 2010 2:50 PM  
Blogger Terry Nelson said...

Oh Cath - what a truly wonderful post - a beautiful reflecti----- Oh look at the time! Gotta run!

October 25, 2010 8:29 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Ter: Yeah, I know. You've got another party to go to!

Archangel's Advocate: The Rosary at my brother's wake was over in about 5. Even, then, dissident that I was, I thought it was disrespectful.

Bede: Exactly! That's what I think at Cafe Latte! Why rush? :-)

Ray: One can never go wrong with a "Hail Mary"!

October 25, 2010 9:01 PM  
Blogger Adrienne said...

My husband, the convert, took offense when I ended grace before meals by picking up my fork and making the sign of the cross with it.

Those converts! Such sticklers...

October 25, 2010 9:19 PM  
Blogger Ray from MN said...

I can't believe that a [non-emergency] rosary could be said in much less than 15 minutes.

At the Highland Park abortuary, the priest says the Rosary and a Divine Mercy Chaplet, with maybe 3 minutes of accompanying invocations, pretty fast, and 25 minutes is the fastest I've seen.

October 25, 2010 9:38 PM  
Blogger Ray from MN said...

Adrienne: That's definitely worth 3.5 or 4 LJ's!

October 25, 2010 9:41 PM  
Blogger Leila @ Little Catholic Bubble said...

Wow, I am sooooo guilty of this! Sigh.

October 26, 2010 1:47 AM  
Blogger The Ranter said...

Many prayers I have to say slowly for my 3 1/2 year old to follow along. She has a hard time with her speech, so I will say a word (or two), and she repeats. There is no 'rushing through' a prayer in my household.

BTW, I just found your blog, and I really like it. God bless.

November 05, 2010 4:23 PM  

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