May 18, 2019
Dear Sisters & Brothers in Christ,
Prayer can basically be defined as a conversation with God. The Catholic Church recognizes 5 forms of prayer (blessing, petition, intercession, thanksgiving & praise) and 3 ways of expressing our prayer (vocal, meditation, contemplative). I’ll admit from the outset that some of those “3” expressions, especially the vocal form, can look very different from one community to the next, i.e., a typical white suburban parish and The Rock or a charismatic parish and an Amish community. (Please take a look at the insert to get basic descriptions of these forms & expressions.)
Most people spend all their lives trying to perfect their prayer life. I would also say there are two other basic categories for prayer: private & communal. Some find common prayer more to their liking, while others lean more to private prayer. But it is important that each of us develop both of these. We each need a private prayer life, which helps us develop a personal relationship with our Lord. One also needs a communal prayer life. It is important to have a faith family. After all, throughout history God has related to us as a community, “I shall be your God, and you shall be my people.” When people sinned in the Jewish Testament it was often the entire community that suffered. When they were in trouble they went to God as a people. One of the forms of prayer is “petitionary,” because we are often called to pray for others and have others pray for us.
When we do come together as a community to pray there are not only different types of prayers, but also different types of people praying those prayers. There are those who always pray one or two words ahead of everyone to show they know the words. Then there are those who pray louder than everyone else, either to let everyone else know they are praying or to make sure God hears them. Then there are the mumblers, who aren’t quite sure of the words, but they don’t want to use a missalette, because then others would know it. And finally, you have those who never even say a mumbling word. Of course, the goal is for everyone to pray in unison, and to make the prayer sound as if it is coming from one voice. The trick is to listen as we pray.
In the Redeemer,