The evolution of prayer…

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It was just about a week ago, my pastor and I came up with the idea of sharing our prayer lives with the youth and young adults that will join us for our youth retreat that starts tomorrow. This weekend, at the introduction to the Diaconate program in the Archdiocese of Portland, that my wife and I attended, we were given the task of writing a paper about our Spiritual Life and how it has grown throughout our life. Since my wife and I have four kids, I decided to combine both projects. For the retreat, I will focus on the fact that my introduction to the faith was through the Mass, of course, but my sponsor was very fond of devotional prayer, like the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and the Rosary, so they formed a good part of my initial foray into prayer. After college, I attempted to keep up with the devotional practice, but was a pitiful failure for the most part. I would still find time to pray a rosary on occasion, and every once in a while including a Chaplet of Divine Mercy after the rosary. The funny thing is that looking back on the time of my faith life that I did not have a usual practice of prayer, it was mostly because I had gotten past the novelty of the fact that focusing on God was a different experience for me a couple of years after my introduction to devotional prayer. I had not yet figured out that there was not only a purpose of praying for the intercessory power of Mary and the Saints by devotional prayer, but there was a specific instruction that goes with each prayer. Not just a history, but an actual revelation from Jesus and Our Mother Mary to the Saints that received the message of Mercy and Love in the form of the devotions that were taught to me when the faith was passed on to me by my best friend and sponsor in the church all those many years back. Rather than go into the different stories that led to my deeper understanding of these devotions, I will just say that I am thankful for the grace that gave me a chance to grasp this deeper meaning of these devotions. (I will probably go into the different revelations that I was introduced to at different times over the past 20 years in the presentation that I will give at the youth retreat, and I will add that info here and include it in my paper that I was asked to write for the Diaconate program that is due September 20th.)
A major part of my growth in prayer was my journaling project that is chronicled on this blog, as well as some hard-backed journaling books that I used before starting this project. As I began, I was moved to use the gifts of the Holy Spirit to focus where I felt like God was speaking to me, and the fruits of the Holy Spirit to help me realize the ways the Holy Spirit was calling me to apply these gifts in my daily life. I would take part of the reading from our daily readings to journal on. It was a modified version of a Lectio Divina, before I even knew what a Lectio Divina was. I would finally write out a prayer that would come to me after I focused on the different parts of my journal. You can look back on the previous entries of this blog for a couple of years back to see the format. Eventually, my journaling evolved to include the Liturgy of the Hours prayers that I would also try and pray every morning. I have abandoned the old format in favor of a more spontaneous form of writing that I only do when I am inspired to do so. Unfortunately, this means I journal a lot less than I used to. As the project was evolving, I found myself finding time every day to make it to Mass on a more regular basis. I started out seeking out a Spiritual Director, to make sure I made it to the Sacrament of Reconciliation at least once a month. I realized quickly that once a month for Confession was not nearly enough, so I have recently suspended my Spiritual Direction in favor of a weekly or bi-weekly visit to the same priest that I was going to for Spiritual Direction, but instead opting for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I will be planning on making appointments with a new Spiritual Director soon, because it is part of the requirements of the Diaconate program, but also because it would be good to meet with someone about my spiritual life, especially during times of desolation.

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