For Praying Out Loud

The TV Evangelists do it. Other denominations do it…adult, and child….and Charismatic Catholics do it. They pray earnestly from the heart, within range of anyone to hear, with all the confidence in the world.

I’m trying to do it to, mentored by my priest friend who opened my eyes to what an intimate relationship with Jesus is about: praying from the heart…and listening intently for His Answers in my heart…but it’s a work in progress.

Why do I find it so difficult to pray out loud? Because I’m not talking about a shopping list of prayer requests, peppered with a blurted out ‘thank-you’ or ‘I’m sorry’ within a routine of someone else’s beautiful words of classic Catholic prayers. I’m talking about a vulnerable cry from the heart expressing a deepening yearning to feel closer and connected to the Lord; understood by Him, inspired by Him, in full service to Him and in tireless pursuit of Him.

Why out loud? For the same reason that I often journal my prayers. Perhaps not as permanent as the written word, the act of speaking the words out loud force them to be deliberate…and a little more vulnerable.

I’m talking about speaking out loud, the quiet stirring from the Holy Spirit, in an uncomposed, unrehearsed string of words, struggling at times to properly express them and uninhibited enough to trust that the message won’t get mangled, even if it’s not all that eloquent. And as if it’s not difficult enough to hear myself struggle through, I allow my spiritual director to witness my awkward attempt? Regularly?

Have you ever asked someone to pray for you, and to your surprise, they prayed over you…right at that moment? That’s what my now-spiritual director did, the first time I asked him for a prayer. He prayed with me regularly as he became my spiritual director.

Although it was comforting to bask in the beautiful, flowing words of another, addressing my needs and asking for a shower of graces and blessings, I felt a nudge. An uncomfortable, insistent nudge prompted me to admit that maybe I was being called to real participation, deepening my relationship with my Lord and my God, directed maybe, but not dependent on the gifts of my spiritual director. After I blurted out this suspicion that I was being challenged to step out of my comfort zone, it was quickly addressed. Not letting me off the hook by postponing it to a face-to face meeting, I made my first attempt to pray from the heart out loud, in that same phone call. gulp.

Years later, having completed each talk with praying out loud… I feel anything but smooth, but I feel a certain disappointment if I ever dodge the challenge after spiritual direction.

Monica_Adam_at_Our_Lady_of_the_Snows

I wish I could say that I pray from the heart with my kids. Although I do pray out loud with my husband and my kids, I usually rely on a familiar routine of memorized prayers, habitual phrases and a continuous floating list of prayer intentions for family and friends.

I desperately want to inspire them to deeper prayer, but I feel like such a newbie at it, learning as I go along, inspired by others who sound like they have been praying naturally, spontaneously and from the heart …for a lifetime.

I am only a little more confident and a little less apprehensive with each act of trust, and I recognize the graces and strengthening of my prayer life, with each attempt. I think I might always avoid leading prayer in a group…just the suggestion to do a reading at Mass or lead a women’s group…makes me want to head for the hills.

But if I am the one to inspire my kids Lord, I pray for the Holy Spirit to help me and guide me to continue to grow in my prayer life, draw closer to Him and to reflect His unconditional intimate Love for them. I pray that my kids will also feel the nudge to pray from the heart…and ultimately enjoy a closer, more personal relationship with our Lord.

Do you feel the nudge to pray out loud?

What is your favorite way to pray? Leave a comment below!

Nominated for the 2013 Frankie Award over at
Catholic Spirituality Blogs

The Catholic Toddler Letters of Frankie and Adam

This is an excerpt of a letter from a wonderful little boy named Frankie, graciously transcribed by his Mom at Catholic All Year to the Lady who yelled at his Mom  at Church.

I love how eloquent this letter is and how Frankie clearly rises above uncharitable reactions. He has clearly grasped the lessons of St Therese, converting experiences with cranky people to opportunities for growing in virtue.

Please check out An Open Letter to the Church Lady Who Yelled at My Mom for the full letter in its wisdom-filled entirety!

Little Frankie writes:

…you took that opportunity to tell my mom a lot of stuff including that she is “a big distraction in Mass” and “everyone thinks so”. Ouch.

Now, my mom and I both know you are wrong. I’ve been coming to this Mass with my mom since before I was born. These people are crazy about me. “EVERYONE” seems to me to really like seeing young families at Mass.

…Well, here’s what I have to say about that: Who says you get to have peace and serenity at Mass?  Either of you?  You can be hair shirts for each other.  And maybe it will make you both better people.  

All right Church Lady, that’s all for now.  Those block towers aren’t going to smash themselves.  But I’ll see you tomorrow morning.  And pretending you don’t see me just makes me try harder to get your attention.  love Frankie

The truth is, Frankie sounds a lot like my little guy Adam.  Adam likes to be busy and he has been known to bang things around and shriek a little at Mass.  OK, a lot.  Frankie’s Mom and I have decided to let Frankie and Adam be pen-pals and explore the world of Mass, cranky people, Catholic traditions, being the youngest of 5 or 6 kids and how they are doing on their daunting task of training their Moms, Dads and siblings in their Catholic vocations.

Here is Adam’s first response to Frankie (graciously transcribed by Adam’s Mom):

Hi Frankie,

I know just what you mean. My mom gets uptight about cranky old people who glare at her just because I like to stay busy at Mass. Sometimes I want to sort the hymn books or just flip through them, pretending I can read music. Sometimes the kneeler isn’t down and someone has their foot on it and it makes it hard to have it ready for kneeling time. Sometimes I just want to make a dash for the aisle and see how many pews I can cross before someone grabs me.

Sometimes old people are cranky and have lots of advice they’d probably like to tell my mom….but sometimes they’re just praying and their eyes tend to follow a moving target…and that’s me! Sometimes, people forget to smile…so they look cranky, but they’re just praying or thinking.

My mom used to worry about this gentleman who always sat in the pew behind us at Church; he always seemed to be watching us. He didn’t smile too much, so mom thought that we were probably disturbing him. We found out later that he sits behind us on purpose because the five of us kids remind him of his own five children and he likes being near us. Imagine that!

Hey, Frankie, have you figured out why it’s ok for the altar boy to ring bells during Mass, but we’re supposed to sit still and only whisper? I’d really like to get me some of those bells!

I’m going to explore my brother’s room now….he’s got some cool Lego and he doesn’t think I can reach it up on his shelf.

Love, Adam

Adam’s Mom is a wife, Mom of 5+ kids, a designer, an architecture school survivor, an author and a crafter who thinks it’s cool to be Catholic! Check out the Arma Dei Shoppe for solid Catholic, fun teaching tools and gifts to celebrate and teach the Catholic Faith and subscribe to Equipping Catholic Families for family-building and Faith-centred crafts!

Real-Life Catholic Love Story!

Read Catholic Love Story #1 by Monica
It’s our own story…and the first time I have put it out there!
Surprise, Bill! =)

I’m the Guest poster at Written By the Finger of God.

Anabelle is collecting real-life Catholic Love Stories and she let me be the first one in her series! Anabelle is a Catholic author and I love her writing style.  I’m thinking about joining her Handmaids of Mary.

source

How do YOU see God?

I am ‘Guest Posting” at the Catholic Bloggers Network on the Scripture, Sunday Readings and Reflections contributor page. Come and check out my post: How do YOU see God?

One time, I asked my spiritual director about this very same thing. I said “What is Jesus doing, each time I confess the same sin or struggle…over and over.?” I think I suspected that the Lord must be getting as tired of this as I was, maybe shaking His Head a little bit, smirking or mouthing the words ‘again!?’

My priest friend just gently responded “smiling”.

Read more of this post, illustrated by Kelly Comics and while you are clicking around, come and visit Equipping Catholic Families for Catholic activities and traditions and our newly renovated Arma Dei Shoppe, full of Catholic craft kits (now available by download to copy for your whole class), Catholic books and quizzing cards!

Monica is a wife, Mom of 5+ kids, a designer, an architecture school survivor, an author and a crafter who thinks that it’s cool to be Catholic! Check out the Arma Dei Shoppe for solid Catholic, fun teaching tools and gifts to celebrate and teach the Catholic Faith and subscribe to Equipping Catholic Families for family-building and Faith-centred crafts!