For the past year, my husband and I have engaged in a variant of the discipline of Saint Bridgette, saying 15 Our Fathers and 15 Hail Mary’s every day. It is designed to encourage souls to pray for the souls in Purgatory. What the addition of a formal discipline has done for our lives is require us to make it part of every day. There have been marathons when we were behind –"How many do you have to do today?" one would gently chide, followed by light hearted banter about being finished for the day or getting a head start on the next while the other was playing catch up. "Got to make it around the last seven of yesterday before I can start today." It’s happened, but less and less often. It has become so much a part of the day that I find myself muttering the prayers when I’m not thinking of anything in particular.
I used to worry that such prayer "doesn’t count," but God doesn’t mind my stutter steps at prayer as long as I keep trying. Such false starts and automatic reflexes indicate the body trying to imitate the spirit and bring the spirit along when perhaps the spirit has forgotten. I’m grateful for the reminder and the assist. What routine prayer gives is the opportunity for us to pour ourselves into the prayer. We are shaped by the prayer rather than the shaper of it. By not engaging in free form stream of consciousness blogging to God, we are less self focused as we petition our Lord with our troubles and trials, our hurts and weaknesses, pains, passions and joys. Some days, the discipline has made me pray for people I know and love, and other days, for those with whom I struggle to keep civil. We have prayed for our children and extended family, for friends, for finances, for our country, for our leaders, for our enemies and for those we’ve never met but know through the internet and news, are struggling.
A routine established discipline of prayer, be it the Divine Chaplet, the Rosary, Saint Bridgette’s or any other method prescribed by the church or established via the Saints will change not simply how one prays, but why. Just as a exercise regimen at first is a trial and chore but if maintained, eventually becomes a sanctuary and a moment of pampering in the day, a stress reliever and method of maintaining more than weight and health, so also prayer if begun and held to as a daily regimen, will become that refuge from all that can gouge out the joy and energy of the every day.
How do we seek Christ when we have all that is in any given day to do? We add one more thing to the daily list; a daily obligation to pray. Some days you will be Martha when this takes place, others you will be like Mary but since both are saints, and that means, it is good either way. Try it. It will transform your day and your relationship with God and others.
Copyright 2009 Sherry Antonetti
About the Author
Sherry Antonetti is a Catholic published author, freelance writer and part-time teacher. She lives with her husband and 10 children just outside of Washington, DC, where she's busy editing her upcoming book, A Doctor a Day, to be published by Sophia Institute Press. You can find her other writings linked up at her blog, Chocolate For Your Brain! or on Amazon.