I love finding ancient prayers and poems of the Church that are beautiful and deeply moving. The kind that continue for stanza after stanza, even when you think that more beautiful phrases aren’t possible! The words of the saints and other holy men and women throughout the centuries have inspired and strengthened me amidst many a difficult day.
St. Lawrence (d. 258 A.D.) was likely a Spaniard by birth who lived in Rome while Christianity was outlawed under pain of death. He was appointed by Pope St. Sixtus II as archdeacon over the seven deacons of Rome, and held the sacred duty of tending to the Church’s wealth and distributing alms to the poor.
Have you ever wondered what prompts us to pray? This thought occurred to me recently while at Adoration. As I poured out my cares and concerns to Jesus, it dawned on me that I was there because the Holy Spirit wanted me to be there.
As Catholic laity, we often hear about “active participation” at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. We may think that “active” participation means “physical” participation—such as being a cantor, lector, or an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion. However, first and foremost, the active participation of the laity is our interior participation at Mass.
Prayer is “the necessary and sure means of obtaining salvation, and [contains] all the graces we need to attain [salvation]…To save one’s soul without prayer is most difficult, and even impossible…but by praying our salvation is made secure, and very easy…If we do not pray, we have no excuse, for the grace of prayer is given to everyone…if we are not saved, the whole fault will be ours, because we did not pray.” If Alphonsus’s words are indeed true, then how crucial is prayer to our daily life, and to our eternal destiny! Do we live as though such words are true?
Icons are a means by which the Church leads her faithful to a life of prayer. Even today icons are seen in many churches around the world and can be venerated in the home as well.
St. Martha, the feisty sister of Mary of Bethany, tends to get a bad rap. After all, when Jesus came to visit the two sisters, Martha complains about Mary not helping—and Jesus’s response seems to be a scolding in which He praises contemplation and disregards practical action and service. However, the story isn’t as simple as that, and I don’t believe that Martha should be remembered as “the one who wasn’t doing it right.”
An arrow prayer is a quick, very short prayer (usually only a sentence long) which brings us into the presence of God and the saints, seeking holy aid in times of need.
We need the consistent silence that comes from time spent with God in prayer. At other times, music can help raise our minds heavenwards and bring into clearer focus what God might be trying to say to us.
Saint Bridget of Sweden (1303 – 1373) was one of the most important and famous mystics of the Middle Ages, causing her to be named one of the patron saints not only of Sweden, but of all Europe. Among the many visions she records in her Revelations is this remarkable description of the Blessed Virgin Mary in her glory as the Queen of Heaven. In this vision St. Bridget sees Our Lady possessing seven lilies and seven precious stones in her heavenly crown. Each one symbolizes a different quality or characteristic. Seven, of course, is the biblical number symbolizing perfection.