Variety of ways to experience God in prayer
By Sister Mary Agnes Ryan, IHM | Special Contributor
The theme for this year’s Catechetical Sunday is “Prayer: The Faith Prayed.”
This focus for the year is a call for each of us to take a closer look and consider the quality of our prayer life! The ideas depicted in the logo for the theme invite us to broaden and deepen our life of prayer, to enrich our “diet” of prayer. The monstrance has the Eucharist as the center. The Eucharist is the source from which our prayer flows and it is to Jesus Christ that our prayer returns.
Especially those involved in the catechetical ministry of the Church have an ancient heritage upon which they can draw in order to cultivate a richer prayer life in the young people of our Church. On Sunday, Sept. 18, parish catechetical leaders and Catholic school principals will celebrate this theme.
The traditions of our faith contain a wealth of practices that invite us to grow closer to God in prayer: the Eucharist, Sacred Scripture, Lectio Divina, and the Divine Office (the Liturgy of the Hours). Hopefully these sources of prayer will be explored more intentionally in the coming year.
Parishes that have an Adoration Chapel are especially blessed! Opportunities abound throughout the day or the week to spend time before the Real Presence of God in the Blessed Sacrament to adore, praise, and thank our gracious God for all gifts of creation and salvation. This time and devotion to the Lord are the source of abundant blessings. My hope is that all those who work with children and young people in our traditional religious education programs and Catholic schools introduce or continue to help our young people cherish the opportunities to acquire a taste for Eucharistic Adoration.
Developing a love for Sacred Scripture is essential for growing as a disciple of Jesus Christ. The Scriptures are the Word of God. We hold them close to our heart. Reading and reflecting upon God’s Word gives us entry into the mind and heart of God. Responding, then, is a natural way of life for those who love and live the Scriptures. We are invited to make this a daily part of our lives. Using Lectio Divina as a way to pray Sacred Scripture is an honored practice. Through this lens we read the Word (Lectio), move to meditate upon the passage of Scripture (Meditatio), respond with prayer (Oratio), and, then delight in being in the presence of the God who loves us so passionately and mercifully (Contemplatio).
Opportunities to pray with the whole Church in using the Liturgy of the Hours (Divine Office) remind us that all time belongs to God. In praying all of the Hours or just the three main hours: Morning Prayer (Lauds), Evening Prayer (Vespers) and Night Prayer (Compline) bring to our mind that time and the different hours of the day are sacred moments. All of God’s people are invited to pause and consciously praise God in psalms, hymns and inspired songs.
Other ideas contained in the logo refer to various prayer styles and practices that have been passed down through the centuries from the founders and foundresses of various religious communities congregations. These men and women founders have given us rich traditions of prayer: Benedictine, Ignatian, Carmelite, Franciscan and Dominican, to name a few. Walking through history enables us to understand the reasons for the foundations of different Religious Communities and appreciate the spirit of the charism and style of prayer that the founder practiced. These traditions provide a banquet of ways to pray that can be incorporated into our lives. They make it possible for everyone in every place to treasure and deepen the call to pray always, at all times.
Most parish religious education programs begin their traditional classes in September. On behalf of all in the Department of Evangelization & Catechesis, I express my deep gratitude to all our catechetical leaders (directors/coordinators/administrators of religious education), whether full time or part time, and our thousands of parish catechists for their dedication and commitment to the mission of Jesus Christ, as they seek to pass on the faith to the coming generations. We are blessed to have you in the Diocese of Trenton and in our parish programs.
My hope for the coming year is that each of us will cultivate a variety in our “diet” of prayer! May all those involved in the ministry of catechesis encourage those to whom they minister to grow ever closer to our gracious and good God.
Immaculate Heart Sister Mary Agnes Ryan serves as diocesan director of the Department of Catechesis.[[In-content Ad]]