I was invited by a reader to comment on my three favorite prayers.
Talk about choosing among one’s children! One of the great benefits of Catholic life is Catholic prayer life. I haven’t abandoned spontaneous prayer--in fact, it’s gotten freer and easier for me--but the reality it, someone, somewhere has already prayed what I am in need of praying, and likely more eloquently. In fact, check out this link for any and all of your prayer needs (3294 of them) http://www.catholicdoors.com/prayers/
So, how to choose favorites? I decided favorite prayers must be the ones I use the most. I’m exempting the prayers of the Rosary, my far and away favorite devotion. Spending a few minutes with the Blessed Mother on the life of Christ orients my day and my life in a way I could not have imagined. I was told at the outset that I would find layers on layers in thinking about the mysteries, and I believed it in an intellectual way. A couple of years into praying the rosary I know it in a way both powerful and incredibly intimate. In fairness to the 3293 other possible prayers, I’m taking the Rosary out of contention.
When I look at the other regular prayers in my life, I find not only have I adopted them out of some particular need, but they too hold unplumbed depths of meaning and value that I come to understand only as life presents me with challenges and joys.
The words of my morning offering change a bit every day, but in general, it’s this one:
O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
I offer You all my prayers, works,
and suffering of this day:
for all the intentions of Your Sacred heart,
in union with the holy sacrifice of the Mass
throughout the world,
in reparation for all my sins,
for the intentions of all our associates,
and in particular,
for the intention of our Holy Father,
to which I append:
O Lord, I do not know what will happen to me today. I only know that nothing will happen that was not foreseen by You and directed to my greater good from all eternity. I adore Your holy and unfathomable plans and submit to them with all my heart, for love of You, the Pope and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Every day, I hear those words differently and every day they push me in a new direction, depending on the circumstances of my life.
Do I really see my acts as prayers? When I do, I do them more lovingly.
Do I really see my suffering as valuable? When I do, I can endure it. If nothing else brought me to Catholic faith, this understanding of the value of suffering, of offering it u in union with Christ, would have done so.
Do I really adore God’s holy plans? Sometimes not, and when I am in that particular temptation, I amend the prayer to ask for the grace to love God’s plans as I should.
Do I really understand that God directs everything for my greater good? Decidedly not, but I more and more call those words to mind when something unexpected happens, especially if it’s uncomfortable. I pray for the grace to call them to mind as easily when the surprises are pleasant.
Then there is the simple table grace, three times a day and with snacks when I remember...
Bless us, O Lord, and these, Thy gifts, which we are about to receive from Thy bounty through Christ our Lord.
Really thinking about this prayer instead of saying it as reflex helps me view the world differently, perhaps coming closer to seeing my life as the gift it is. I am more frugal in all ways these days, not wanting to waste the good things of God, from aging fruit to carefree time with my groom. I am more responsive, feeling God’s blessings in all manner of things once unnoticed. Simple thoughts. Profound effects.
Last is the Anima Christi:
Soul of Christ, sanctify me;
Body of Christ, save me;
Blood of Christ, inebriate me;
Water from the side of Christ, wash me;
Passion of Christ, strengthen me;
O good Jesus hear me;
Within Your wounds hide me;
separated from You, let me never be;
From the malignant enemy, defend me;
At the hour of my death, call me;
And close to You bid me; That with your saints,
I may be praising You forever and ever.
I love the images this brings up, and resonate with it even more in its poetic, lyrical Spanish form. Please, let me be drunk with the presence of Christ, never to be separated. Please, let me know that Christ hears me, and holds me safe, interposing His very Self between me and those who would destroy me. Please, let me give joyous voice to that certainty and that blessing now and forever.
My three prayers. The rhythms of my day.