Ways to Pray: Five Favorite Catholic Devotional Practices

One of the most hidden, but striking, beauties of Catholicism is the many devotional practices available to those in the Faith. For those who are considering conversion, or have recently converted, it may seem overwhelming to pick which “way” to pray. Perhaps you’re a Catholic who is trying to find your way back to the rhythm of prayer.

Of course, you can simply talk to God. You don’t need a method or a formula. But, if you’re like me, you may find yourself at a loss for words when speaking to Our Lord. This is why devotional practices are so important: these written prayers and repetitions often root us in the reality that God became man, died for our sins, and defeated death in the resurrection. Personally, I find that when I have something tangible (a devotion, for example), I am more likely to pray and meditate on the Gospel. For your reference, here are five of my favorite Catholic prayerful devotions.

  1. The Rosary: Hands down, the Rosary is one of the most recognizable of all Catholic prayer devotions. With meditations on the Gospel and Scared Tradition, the Rosary offers a full look at the life and work of Jesus Christ. In my personal experience, the prayer has served like a security blanket: it helps me pray when I don’t know what to say and it brings me comfort. I offer up my intentions, and let the Holy Spirit do the rest of the work. Amy Brooks of Prayer Wine Chocolate has said that she enjoys praying the Rosary with friends. This is a great way to grow with those in your life. Personally, I prefer to pray alone. Regardless of your prayer group preferences, the Rosary is a good place to start.
  2. Eucharistic Adoration: Eucharistic Adoration, or Adoration, is a beautiful practice. (For a short primer on Adoration, click here). Simply, Adoration is a time of silence, in a church or chapel, where we adore Our Lord in the form of the Eucharist. While in Adoration, worshipers may pray, read, or simply sit in silence. There is no time requirement, though I do suggest an hour. Adoration is a wonderful opportunity to sit in the presence of Jesus and to bring Him your worries, cares, hopes, and fears. Like the Rosary, you can participate in Adoration alone or in a group. Chloe Langr of the Old Fashioned Girl blog attends Adoration on a weekly basis with her husband. For couples, Adoration is a great way to bond and grow spiritually. For anyone, it’s a chance to visit the Lord. For more information, contact your local parish.
  3. Daily Mass Readings: Part of my morning routine includes prayer and the Daily Mass Readings. These are readings from the Scriptures that are read at Mass for that day around the world. Typically, there is an Old Testament reading, a Psalm, a second reading from a New Testament epistle, and always the Gospel. You can find the daily Mass readings by searching for the “USCCB Daily Readings.” While reading the Bible may not seem like a prayer in the traditional sense, you can certainly turn it into one! For example, if you know of someone who is sick, you can offer up your reading as a prayer for that person. It’s a beautiful way to learn the Word of God while praying for those around you.
  4. Fasting: Honestly, fasting is not on of my favorite devotional practices. Like most people, I don’t enjoy self-denial or curbing my desires. I want what I want, and I want it now. But why, then, is fasting on the list? Essentially, fasting orients me to the correct frame of mind (and that I do like!) During Lent, when I’m dying to log into Facebook, I say a prayer instead. I use that time I would have spent on social media in prayer. Maybe your distractions are different. Maybe, for Lent this year, when you are craving chocolate, you recite a verse from the Bible. When we deny ourselves, we find that we become closer to and more like Jesus.
  5. The Divine Mercy Chaplet: This chaplet, popularized in the 20th century, focuses on Jesus’ deep mercy and immense love for us. On rosary beads, we ask God to have mercy on us for the sake of Jesus’ “sorrowful passion.” But, we not only pray for ourselves with the chaplet, we also pray for mercy “on the whole world.” In a society that is abandoning Christian values at a rapid pace, we are in deep need of God’s mercy and the message of Christ’s love for us. When we discover that Christ loved us enough to die for the world, we will conform our lives to His.

Of course, these are not the only devotions that Catholics can take part in. There are so many more ways to pray and such little time to write about them all. As I grow in my faith, I would like to learn more about other prayerful devotions. For example, a very popular way to read Scripture is through lectio divina. The lectio allows you to intentionally read Scripture instead of blazing through it (as I often do). This video from Ascension presents the lectio divina beautifully:

Finally, I’ve taken a particular interest in sacramentals. Sacramentals are not sacraments: they do not provide grace, but rather, are signs of grace in our lives (CCC 1670). Sacramentals include holy water, medals, icons, and assorted other items. One of my favorite sacramentals is the Miraculous Medal, which I’ve written about here. Lately, I have read about scapulars: small pieces of cloth often worn under clothing and around the neck. I have a little metal one that I wear around a chain, but not a full blown “real” one. Fr. Nicholas Blackwell, a Carmelite in New York City, talks about the famous brown scapular:

While the Brown Scapular is one type of scapular, there are also assorted colors, such as the blue scapular. Just today, I was introduced to the green scapular by Annie Fulkerson of Salt and Light. The green scapular is often used and prayed with in order to bring about conversions and healing. Please note that Catholics DO NOT believe that the scapular or any object itself can heal or convert someone. Only God can do that. But, He can use these tangible objects to work miracles in someone’s life.

green scapular

The Green Scapular Devotion // Photo: Annie Fulkerson

As we sprint into the new year, I hope that your prayer life is vibrant and growing. If you’re getting back into the swing of prayer, start small. You don’t have to pray a full Rosary every day, start with a decade and move up. Maybe you could make a list of all of your prayer needs and just start talking to Our Lord. Maybe you’re a seasoned prayer warrior, and are looking for something different to add to the mix. I hope that my list can help you. In conclusion, there are so many ways to pray and talk with to Jesus. What are some of your favorite devotions? Share with me below. I look forward to hearing from you, and may God bless you this week.

Thank your for reading and for your support!

 

Ways to Pray

Media Friday #2: Blessed is She

Welcome to your weekend! Also, thank you for visiting my second Media Friday. Today, I want to share an online women’s ministry that is near and dear to my heart: Blessed is She.

Why did I choose Blessed is She for this week’s Media Friday? Answer: For the vibrant online community.

In the Kentucky county where I reside, the U.S. Census reveals that a majority of its inhabitants are Catholic. However, in the northern half of the county where I live, I’m probably the only Catholic living in the zip code. This is not an exaggeration.Β  Thankfully, I attend Mass at an awesome parish about 30 minutes from my house. The people there are awesome and it’s the first time I’ve felt at “home” in a church in nearly a decade.

But, because we live in a rural region, it’s sometimes more difficult to connect with Catholic women in my own age group. I’m in a really odd spot right now: I’m too old to be a considered a member of the youth, and I’m slowly inching out of the young adult phase of my life. I’m not yet married, and I’m the only Catholic in my family. Sometimes, it can feel like a one-woman production.

This is where Blessed is She steps in and fills some of the fellowship gaps that many Catholic women (of all ages) experience.

Just a few of the wonderful ministries Blessed is She provides are:

  1. Daily devotionals based on the daily Mass readings, conveniently delivered to your email every morning.
  2. Online groups for women based on geographical location. You can find the link for the Southern region here.
  3. A wonderful store with unique items like Advent journals, prints, and religious gifts.
  4. Facebook live Teachable Tuesdays (which are uploaded here to YouTube).
  5. Free monthly web-based, live workshops for those with a Blessed is She paid membership. Side note: Membership is $99 per year and is well worth the investment. November’s workshop taught us about finding your “saintly tribe” and studying the earthly lives of our heavenly friends. Members also receive Advent and Lent journals auto-shipped to their address.
  6. Finally, a wonderfully made and very beautiful Liturgical Planner. You’ll never forget a Day of Obligation again!

To learn more about Blessed is She and their wonderful media ministry to women, please visit:

blessedisshe.net or facebook.com/blessedisshenetwork

Finally, check out their awesome Liturgical Planner video:

 

 

Little Offerings

During my time in RCIA, I started reading as much as I could about the Catholic faith and practice. Two of the best books I read were Matthew Kelly’s Rediscover Catholicism and The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic. Though I was in the process of discovering Catholicism (not rediscovering) through the formal RCIA process, I was impressed by many of the book’s claims about the important value of Catholicism in modern culture. Yet, the topic that stood out to me the most (and was touched on only very briefly), was the act of “offering it up.” Honestly, I can’t remember which book in which I encountered the idea of offering something for someone else. Yet, months later, I still remember it.

In a nutshell, Kelly claims that anything can be a prayer. He states that even if your job is but to collect garbage, you can “offer” that hour of work as a prayer for someone in need. In one way, these little acts of selflessness help us fulfill St. Paul’s instructions. After reading that particular section in Kelly’s book, I was floored. Never once in recent memory had I thought about my daily actions as a prayer to God.

For me, to pray without ceasing meant to pray in a traditional way, eyes closed and hand folded, at all times. For a prayer to “count,” you had to list all of your needs, wants, and thanks to God. It was my job to inform God of every little jot and tittle in my life. It’s no wonder I was usually exhausted trying to pray non-stop. Prayer had become a chore rather than a privilege.

Now, as I’ve matured in faith and age: prayer has taken on a new meaning. Now that I know I can “offer” up anything to the Lord as a prayer, the possibilities seem endless. For example, I may say the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, and offer it for those who are hurting or discouraged. One night I may say it for a very specific intention. On other days, I may offer up my daily work for a group of people or a cause. I may attend an hour of

blog

Walking with Purpose

adoration for the intentions of a religious sister. And while I may not know the needs and specific intentions for those I am praying for, I know that God know. What a comfort!

Your little offerings may look different from mine, and that’s okay. Perhaps you like to recite the Morning Offering before you get out of bed, or maybe you set aside a few minutes of Bible study for someone’s needs. There is nothing too small that Our Lord won’t notice. St. Martin de Porres said that scraping vegetables, tending a garden, and cleaning a room can be a prayer as long as it’s offered to God. Simply, no act is too little.

This week, I challenge you think of an action, activity, or amount of time that you can offer up to the Lord. Think about who you can offer it for (or maybe for yourself!), and begin to pray without ceasing.

Pure love…knows that only one thing is needed to please God; to do even the smallest things out of great love – love, and always love. // St. Faustina

I offer You my prayers, works, joys and sufferings of this day for the intentions of the Sacred Heart…[and] for the intentions of all my relatives and friends. // from the Morning Offering

 

 

 

Media Friday #1: Litany of Trust

Good morning! Welcome to the weekend.

Each Friday, I want to share a form of media that is uplifting and encouraging. For the first Media Friday, I’d like to share with you the Litany of Trust, written by Sister Faustina Maria Pia, SV, of the Sisters of Life. This beautiful litany sheds light on the weakness of our human condition and invites Jesus in to bind our wounded hearts. The video below displays the text of the litany, accompanied with soothing music. As you pray along, may it bring you comfort on this rainy Friday.

Strive to be as holy as you can be. // St. Martin de Porres // Pray for us!

Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us!