Prayers and Devotions
Prayers & Devotions
Various forms of prayer are presented in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC 2623-2649). These various forms include prayer of blessing or adoration, prayer of petition, prayer of intercession, prayer of thanksgiving, and prayer of praise.
Meditation is a Christian practice of prayer dating back to the early Church. As the Catechism states: “Meditation is above all a quest. The mind seeks to understand the why and how of the Christian life, in order to adhere and respond to what the Lord is asking.” By meditating on the Gospels, holy icons, liturgical texts, spiritual writings, or “the great book of creation,” we come to make our own that which is God’s. “To the extent that we are humble and faithful, we discover in meditation the movements that stir the heart and we are able to discern them. It is a question of acting truthfully in order to come into the light: “Lord, what do you want me to do?” (CCC 2705-2706).
Meditation is an essential form of Christian prayer, especially for those who are seeking to answer the vocational question, “Lord, what do you want me to do?”
How do we pray with Sacred Scripture?
Spiritual reading of Sacred Scripture, especially the Gospels, is an important form of meditation. This spiritual reading is traditionally called lectio divina or divine reading. Lectio divina is prayer over the Scriptures.
- The first element of this type of prayer is reading (lectio):you take a short passage from the Bible, preferably a Gospel passage and read it carefully, perhaps three or more times. Let it really soak-in.
- The second element is meditation (meditatio).By using your imagination enter into the Biblical scene in order to “see” the setting, the people, and the unfolding action. It is through this meditation that you encounter the text and discover its meaning for your life.
- The next element is prayer (oratio)or your personal response to the text: asking for graces, offering praise or thanksgiving, seeking healing or forgiveness. In this prayerful engagement with the text, you open yourself up to the possibility of contemplation.
- Contemplation (contemplatio)is a gaze turned toward Christ and the things of God. By God’s action of grace, you may be raised above meditation to a state of seeing or experiencing the text as mystery and reality. In contemplation, you come into an experiential contact with the One behind and beyond the text.
What are devotions?
Popular devotions are expressions of love and fidelity that arise from the intersection of one’s own faith, culture and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As Saint John Paul II said in 2001:
“Genuine forms of popular piety, expressed in a multitude of different ways, derives from the faith and, therefore, must be valued and promoted. Such authentic expressions of popular piety are not at odds with the centrality of the Sacred Liturgy. Rather, in promoting the faith of the people, who regard popular piety as a natural religious expression, they predispose the people for the celebration of the Sacred Mysteries.
The correct relationship between these two expressions of faith must be based on certain firm principles, the first of which recognizes that the Liturgy is the centre of the Church’s life and cannot be substituted by, or placed on a par with, any other form of religious expression. Moreover, it is important to reaffirm that popular religiosity, even if not always evident, naturally culminates in the celebration of the Liturgy towards which it should ideally be oriented. This should be made clear through suitable catechesis” (Address to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, September 21, 2001).