Saturday, December 09, 2006

Rushed in All Things

When I first arrived in New York and was praying with the Sisters, I noticed how much 'slower' they said their prayers. I felt like I was taking a breath between each word or speaking as though learning to read. It made me uncomfortable to be the only one really rushing through the prayer. Of course, part of me just thought they were moving too slow. But the longer I was there, the more natural it felt to take more time.

When I was in seventh grade I was on a retreat with some kids from our church. I think it was a lenten retreat and we were there with another church (our youth minister's husband's youth group). I remember though that our little group of kids had gotten together (I think in a hotel room) to pray. I really can't recall all the details. But I remember getting frustrated and talking about how everyone wanted to rush through the Hail Mary (my favorite prayer). I was frustrated because no one seemed to really listen to the words of the prayer or remember where they came from. "'Hail Mary! Full of grace, the Lord is with thee.' These are the words spoken to Mary by the angel Gabriel just before accepting the conception of her Son, our Savior! And "Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb" is from the meeting of Mary and her cousin Elizabeth. And then we beg Mary to pray for us!" It was something along those lines that I said that night before getting flush and stopping.

I feel much the same way today, but in a different way than before. Because what I thought was slow was so rushed in New York. Even in New York where everyone talks fast, moves fast, does everything fast, the Sisters take their time in prayer. I can't remember who it was but it was someone wise for sure that said the more time you make for prayer the more time you will find in your day. If I remember correctly the story behind it was that a nun felt like there weren't enough hours in the day to do all of her work and pray all of her prayers too. Her superior told her that she had it backwards. She was not making enough time to pray. If she prayed more, she would be able to do it all.

Anyway, the point is that prayer should be a priority in our lives. And not just prayer in words. Prayer in the heart. If we are reciting prayers we have learned over the years, we should be especially mindful to slow it down and reflect on what we are saying and what we are asking. When a prayer comes from the heart and not the head -- and in this case I mean a prayer that you form, not one that you have committed to memory -- it is obvious that we would really think about what we are saying. We are forming the words. But when we pray those prayers we have committed to memory, we often forget to stop and think about each word that passes from our lips. Often times our thoughts begin to wander and our prayer, though good in its intention, becomes nothing more than idle talk.

..more on this later. Time to babysit Porter and her friend, Tiffany! :)

May the Lord give you His peace.


Blogger onionboy said...

Agreed. I have slowed my day down and my prayers by stopping my day at 10pm and spending an hour in prayer. Oddly {?} what is happening {over these past 14 days} is that I wish to spend more time, not less in prayer. Prayer like breathing...yes, how often have I read about monks practicing prayer in this way and it makes me think of how Pope John Paul II spoke about the prayer of the Rosary.

12/09/2006 08:47:00 PM  
Blogger Moneybags said...

I agree that it seems most orders (male and female) truly take great time in praying the Divine Office. I found it refreshing and something to try to imitate.

12/13/2006 05:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes! there is a woman who always sits behind me at mass and she is always rushing her prayers, sometimes she's a full line ahead, I want to turn around and ask, "What's your hurry?" but I don't.

12/16/2006 01:00:00 AM  

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