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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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!