A Spiritual Auntie at Prayer

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It’s a very tiny ministry that started a few years back, praying for little people. This post ran in 2015, and a similar article ran on Aleteia about spiritual adoption. With Halloween just around the corner, I thought it good to offer again prayers for our children.

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It began by accident — if ever a thing of the Holy can be an accident — when an acquaintance asked that I pray for his children caught in the middle of his marital unrest.

After saying I would, there was a desire to pray specifically, and I asked for the name of each child. There were several; his was — and still is — a large Catholic family that was nearly run off the tracks.

I’ve never had children, nor really been around kids much through my life. I remember a dear friend spoke of praying for her sons and daughters, and another friend told me of tracing a cross on the foreheads of his children as he kissed them good-night.

The evening after our encounter the verse in Isaiah 54 came to mind:

Sing, O barren one, who did not bear; break forth into singing and cry aloud, you who have not been in travail! For the children of the desolate one will be more than the children of her that is married, says the LORD.

…and the one from Psalms 113 also nudged me:

He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children.

Here, I thought, was a way to love children that were not through me. And so began my ministry to pray for the future of our Church, a ministry I hope you too will adopt.

I purchased a small notebook that would fit in my purse or pocket, taped an old prayer card on the cover, and began seeking opportunities to ask permission from parents to add their children’s names to the book. The usual response was an enthusiastic, “Oh, please do!” The little book goes with me to Adoration and Mass, and has been touched to the Blessed Sacrament.

Included in the notebook is a parents prayer for the protection of children against demonic influences.

Eternal Father, you have entrusted the lives and souls of these children to my care. I beseech Thee now to offer them protection from demonic influences. Protect their eyes, ears, and lips from the lies, deceits, and seductions of the devil.

Defend them from the attacks of the evil spirits, as well as those from wicked persons who align themselves with the dark forces. Guide them to virtuous desires and interests, shielding them from music, projections, and written words which are of a diabolical nature.

Enlist your angels to stand beside them, leading them away from circumstances which would seduce them to sin. Keep them pure of heart to avoid the temptations of the flesh and physical gratification outside the confines of holy matrimony.

Assist them as they struggle against the enticements of the world, showing them that all good things come from you alone, and that by following your laws they will not only attain true happiness, but the gift of eternal life with you in heaven. Amen.

I liked being a spiritual aunt if not a physical parent, and feel a special kind of joy when I see pictures of those for whom I pray shared on social media.

Each morning I ask Mother Mary and Saint Joseph to pray with me for the protection of the children whose names I bring to their Son.

I kind of like having kids in the oratory.

Image by Stephen Marc from Pixabay .

 

An Earth Embroidered with Prayers

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I stooped at the waist to pull a few weeds. A twinge in my back caused me to stagger a bit so I lowered to kneeling and moved closer the flowers—a familiar intimacy.

The rose next to me was Tuscany, a maroon heirloom rose, its richly perfumed center was fluffy with gold pollen. The base of the dark velvety petals were tipped with white where the keel connected to the calyx. It gave the illusion of light radiating from its center. ‘Tuscany Superb’ is a polite shrub rose that remains relatively compact, at about four feet high and wide, and its stems are covered in hairy prickles rather than the usual woody thorns.

I worked my way a little farther down the garden bed, scooching along to where the Oriental lilies ‘Pink Pearl’ grew. The oversize anther pads floated on fine pale green filaments above the white edged petals. A humming bird zoomed in, took a couple quick sips from the lily’s trumpet and darted off.

The roses and the lilies, the fragrances known in July, rustled enough of me into the moment that the anxieties of the past few weeks eased.

I had been nearly consumed by worries, what were perceived as potential threats. A ghost from decades ago had returned to haunt, and fear bit hard like a hungry dog on grizzled bone.

I’d become terribly upset and thrown off balance, losing the comfortable peace so well known in my days. I attempted to regain perspective through regimented worship: intercessory praying, rosary, Liturgy of the Hours, Mass, and Adoration. Tentatively I reached out for prayer and shared the situation with a group of peers. They acknowledged my fears and began their own intercessions on my behalf.

In all this, it wasn’t until I lowered myself to the ground did the tension seep away.

To kneel on soil—instead of on padded wood—is to join oneself intimately with the Creator, to lean into, and on to, God. To arch the back and offer ones hands to toil with joy or tears, distracted, alone, loved or not is to embroider the earth with prayer.

We are placed upon this sod of love spared from the Garden of Eden. For as low as our lives are from the heavens, we are, always, the humus of the earth—from it and to it, nourished and nourishing, full circle in the created affections of God. We scratch upon it. And not all scratching is fruitful and not all seeding sprouts.

It is the effort to draw closer to God that brings us to our knees. And every prayer waters the ground that rears us to our sainthood.

Image by Mammiya from Pixabay 

(2017)

 

Drifting Prayers that Rise and Fall like Snow

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Sitting in my oratory, I finished the Salve Regina prayer. I then looked from the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe out the window at a gray winter’s morning. I felt heavy that morning, down, and I didn’t know why. Kissing the blue millefiori rosary in my hand, I returned it to the porcelain dish, and the beads chimed against its sides. I picked up the Liturgy of the Hours from the table and rested the book unopened on my lap next to the long-haired silver cat purring in her sleep.

Thoughts drifted, memories came and went, prayers and praise rose and fell. Somehow, conflicted in the solitude, I felt grateful and sad.

Again I looked out the window. The morning’s light had increased and I saw it was snowing. A delightful memory filled my heart…

I was seven again, lying on my back on the Flexible Flyer sled and wearing a one piece red-quilted snowsuit. It was early morning, very early. Snow had fallen through the night and when I woke the flakes were still coming down. In my excitement I’d hastily bundled-up, pajamas underneath, and in the pre-dawn light left the house without breakfast. No one would be at the hill and I could play freely.

Two blocks away was Martin Road Park and a sizeable hill for sledding. Up and down I went a dozen times or more, until I lay panting and happily spent beyond its skirt. Rolling over on the sled I faced the clouds and giggled as snowflakes landed on eyelashes, and cried with a love so deep there were no words. The only thing I could hear that morning was my heartbeat and breathing. Snow is quiet and it quieted a world that was, for me, hard and loud. At the age of seven I had experienced, for the first time, the sensation of peace.

Since that moment, snow has carried for me that memory of peacefulness. It quiets the world. It slows people down.

My focus returned to the oratory and fell upon my grandmother’s gold-tone crucifix. The snow outside continued and I wondered if manna had fallen the same way in the desert—if it lightly built up on stems and leaves and covered the ground. I wondered, too, at the conflicted People of God who praised and soon griped at that perfect gift grown tiresome.

And I see in myself how often I gripe about something that is ultimately for my good—forgiveness for example. Forgiveness, much like gathering up manna can be a chore, and tiresome in its repetition. But ultimately it brings what we need, and I know how grateful I am that forgiveness exists.

I stood and walked to the window and watched the snow coming down and make white all that seemed dead and dark. I felt again the peace the seven-year-old me knew, of gently falling grace.

(11/15)

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

A Call to Lifelong Service, Tuesday’s Prayer for Sisters and Nuns

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To be consecrated as a priest, monk, sister, nun, or hermit, working in the world or cloistered is a vocation of celibacy and poverty. It is a calling few want to hear in our western world.

Let us pray that those called to such a life will hear and be unafraid.

This prayer was found on the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops web site:

O God, Father of all Mercies,
Provider of a bountiful Harvest,

send Your Graces upon those
You have called to gather the fruits of Your labor;
preserve and strengthen them in their lifelong service of you.

Open the hearts of Your children
that they may discern Your Holy Will;
inspire in them a love and desire to surrender themselves
to serving others in the name of Your son, Jesus Christ.

Teach all Your faithful to follow their respective paths in life
guided by Your Divine Word and Truth.
Through the intercession of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary,
all the Angels, and Saints, humbly hear our prayers
and grant Your Church’s needs, through Christ, our Lord.

Amen.

Image Pixabay.com, CCO, Creative Commons.

In their Humanness, Tuesday’s Prayer for Sisters and Nuns

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To be a Sister or Nun does not mean to be without humanness. It means that in their humanness they have offered who they are as they are to God.

Let us pray for these consecrated women that in their desires and their downfalls, in their laughter, hopes, and humility they persevere to be always all of themselves for the Glory of God.

Amen.

Image Pixabay.com, CCO Creative Commons