She lists her five favorite Catholic devotions, and she wants to know what mine (and yours) are.
Now, I’m in kind of a spot here.
On one hand, the last six months or so have seen me practicing Catholic devotions in the same way as my three-year-old has been practicing personal hygiene: whining and screaming and making things so miserable for everyone that, more often than not, we just skip it and walk away disgusted.
On the other hand, whatever Lizzie wants, Lizzie gets.
Just to make things harder on myself, I’m going to list seven, not five, so I can do Seven Quick Takes. Maybe the extra two will count as doing mortification. That’s a devotional, right?
Seven Favorite Catholic Devotions
I think of novenas as spritual interventions — not “We pray for divine intervention,” but like: “Well, do you think it might help if we held an intervention?” A nine-step program, if you will. You don’t set these things up for everyday problems. Nobody enjoys it, and we’d all rather be somewhere else, but if this doesn’t work, then nothing will. I kind of imagine the Holy Spirit slumping resignedly in a folding chair, drinking tepid coffee and willing at least to hear us out.
It’s been a long, long time. I’ve made dozens of resolves to sign up again, but I keep putting it off. But when we were going, my husband and I signed up as a couple, and each went on alternate weeks. Just two hours a month each, but it Made A Difference.
Sometimes when you go into the chapel, you feel wonderful. You feel like you’re coming home from a long and miserable trip, when everyone missed you terribly and is so glad to see you.
And sometimes you feel like a bored, itchy hypocrite who has no business taking up space in this weird, demanding religion. But I heard someone compare Adoration to standing in the sun: you may not notice it happening, but it will surely change you.
This is not so much a favorite devotion as an inescapable one. It’s kind of like taking your vitamins: it’s so easy, and it couldn’t hurt, so you might as well just do it every night. Gulp.
My kids enjoy it (we only do one decade a night) because eventually they will get to lead us in praying The Ascension. The little rats read “‘Baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,'” and then they deliberately pause before continuing with “Hail Mary . . .” so they can make one or two inattentive people think we’re up to the Glory Be already. They also like to trap house guests that way. Isn’t that nice? They’re wonderful children.
The Chaplet of Transition in Labor
When I’m in labor, I offer up the pain for people who suffer infertility. That sounds a lot more pious than it really is. Really, the only good thing about delivering babies is that, for once, you have something truly horrible to offer up–but, unlike other sacrifices, such as fasting or doing good works, you can’t get out of it. So you might as well try and get something out of it (besides the baby, I mean). Also “For the sake of his sorrowful passion, have mercy on us, and on the whole world” is nice and rhythmic, and helps you breathe steadily.
ברוך אתה ה’ א‑לוהינו מלך העולם, שהכל נהיה בדברו.
Ha ha, got you there! When I was little, we used to say the Hebrew blessing before meals (later, I found out it was Hebrew with a Brooklyn accent), and then we’d say it in English: “Blessed art Thou, o Lord our God, King of the universe, by Whose word all things exist.” It has such a wonderful rhythm of certainty at the end: “By Whose word All. Things. Exist.” I don’t know how to read Hebrew (although I did once advise someone on whether or not her mezuzah was upside down, so I know that much), but here is a transliteration of the prayer: Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu Melekh ha‑olam, she‑hakol nih’ye bidvaro; and here is someone saying it.
There are actually several different prayers before meals, depending on what kind of food you will be eating. This may very well be technically the wrong prayer to use every day, but, you know, there’s a New Covenant and all. You’re covered.
Palming it Off On Someone Else
largely because I feel inept as an intercessory pray-er, and so had a hope that maybe somebody out there in the audience might have the charism I lack when it comes to having a clue how to pray. I thought I was being very clever fobbing this off on others; but, of course, what I stupidly failed to foresee was that this would inevitably result in lots more prayer requests for everything under the sun. I continue to post them, along with my fumbling two cents in the courts of the Almighty, advising Him on how to proceed. I haven’t the slightest clue whether my prayers do a lick of good for the person making the prayer request. But I figure that if I mix my prayers in with others who are closer to the Throne, then maybe they’ll get lost in the pack and I will look like I know what I’m doing.
I’m lazy enough to pass along a prayer request before actually praying about it myself, but scrupulous enough to feel bad about it; so generally, the act of making it public is enough to help me to remember to say at least a quickie prayer myself. Whereas if I only realize I should be praying for something, I’m all too prone to mistaking “I should pray about this” for actually praying. Maybe God, in his generosity, accepts even good intentions as prayer, but I’m not counting on it.
Act of Contrition
I love the Church so much. She knows that we’re so lame, so stupid, so weak and lazy that not only do we have to be required to go to confession once a year, but we need help figuring out how to say “I’m sorry.” Isn’t it great to have those words? They say it all — everything you’re thinking, and everything you ought to be thinking — and it feels so good to say them.
O my god, I am truly sorry for having offended Thee. I detest all my sins because I dread the loss of Heaven and the pains of Hell, but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, who art all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasion of sin.
Whew. I mean, Amen.
Oh, wait! Here’s a bonus one.
A Strange Child’s Prayer
When my oldest daughter was about four, she wrote a prayer of her own. She understood the gerneral lingo, if nothing else. I wish I could find the baby book for this General Act of Praying, but the ended with: “Holy, holy, holy. Isn’t it holy?”
And don’t forget to check out Conversion Diary for other Seven Quick Takes, and link up if you’re doing your own!