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Hail Mary (Prayer)

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you. (Luke 1:28) Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, (Luke 1:41-42) Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, (Luke 1:43) pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.



“Glory Be” Prayer

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
 
The “Glory Be” prayer, or the “Gloria Patri” in Latin, is an ancient prayer that is intended to praise and give glory to each of the three persons of the Trinity, specifically, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The prayer continues by professing that God is everlasting.


Roman Catholic Rosary Beads

The intention of this article is to simply introduce to the reader the venerable tradition of the Roman Catholic rosary beads or the Psalter of Mary. The rosary, because of its one hundred fifty Hail Marys corresponding to the number of the Psalms, is sometimes called the Psalter of Mary. Catholics have used the rosary for hundreds of years. Each bead of the rosary has its origin in Holy Scripture and Catholic tradition. Roman Catholic theologian Blessed Alan de la Roche (1428 – 1475), noted for his views on prayer said, “The Holy Rosary is the storehouse of countless blessing.”

If you were to ask what object is most representative of Catholics, you would probably say, “The rosary.”  We are very familiar with the images: a person in the front pew of the church silently moving lips while praying the rosary; a family fingering beads; the ladies of the Altar Rosary Society praying the rosary before or after Eucharist; a baby sucking on her mother’s rosary beads while praying; the oversized rosary hanging from the waist of a Roman Catholic Franciscans Abbot; more recently, an ornate rosary hanging from the rearview mirror of a 1956 Chevy.
 
The rosary assist us engage our body, mind, and spirit in our prayers.  Pope Saint Pius X (1835 – 1914) viewed, “The Rosary is the most beautiful and richest of all prayers to the Mediatrix of all grace; it is the prayer that touches most the heart of the Mother of God. Say it each day” (Cf. Msgr. J. Cirrincione and T. Nelson, The Rosary and the Crisis in the Faith, Tan Books and Publishers, p. 34).
 
The rosary comes from Latin rosarium, meaning “crown of roses” or “garland of roses” and the rose being one of the flowers used to represent the Blessed Virgin Mary. The rosary is a biblical form of prayer and all the prayers that are used come mainly from the Bible. It has 59 beads and five decades of 10 beads a piece. A single bead separates the weeks and decades. The rosary is said using beads to count recital prayers while we meditate upon on the biblical mysteries from the lives Jesus and Mary.
 
“The rosary, and rosary-like prayer, focus on the events of Christ’s life, the incarnation, redemption, and the promise of eternal life, and on the Virgin Mary’s participation in the mystery of Christ.  A person praying must be the agent who actively enters into the mysteries, and not simply one before whom the celebration unfolds. The rosary is an accessible reminder of the constant prayer of the Church, the incessant prayer of God’s people throughout the ages. The Psalter of Mary, as the rosary is sometimes called, is a remembrance of the Church’s deepest nature as a community of continual prayer” (Pope Leo XIII, 1896).  Saint Paul the Apostle insists the Christians of first century Thessalonian community to “rejoice always; pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).  
 
After, the Second Vatican Council (Latin: Concilium Oecumenicum Vaticanum Secundum or informally known as Vatican II), the rosary fell into relative disuse. Sadly enough the same is very true for Marian devotions as a whole. But in recent years the rosary has made a comeback, and not just among Catholics but with Lutherans, Methodists, and other Protestant groups.
 
In “Just Do It: How Practice Makes Catholic” (U.S. Catholic, October 2000) Father Robert Barron concludes by “Saying a word in support of the much maligned rosary as a practice.”  He writes: “First, the rosary is concrete, densely objective–it is something you hold in your hand.  Anthony de Mello said that the simple feel of the rosary puts him in a mystical frame of mind.  Second, the rosary is a way of disciplining what the Buddhists call the “monkey mind,” the mind that leaps impatiently from branch to branch . . . As long as that mind–skittish, superficial, obsessive–is dominating, we never move to the deeper realms of the soul.  The rosary prayer, precisely as a mantra, is meant to dull and quiet the moody mind and allow the depths to rise.  Third, the rosary slows us down.  (Even my Irish grandmother, who prayed the rosary at ninety-five miles an hour, took fifteen minutes to get through it!)  The surface of the psyche is in constant motion, hurrying to its next thought, its next objective, its next accomplishment.  But the spiritual center likes to see, to hear, to savor . . . Ewert Cousins, a theologian at Fordham University, has said that the genius of Catholicism is that it never threw anything away.  How sad that so many Catholics run to the religions of the East and to the New Age to find embodied practices of prayer when we have them in spades in our own ecclesial attic!”
 
“How to Pray the Rosary” is an article from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website that reiterates that “The Rosary is a Scripture-based prayer. It begins with the Apostles’ Creed, which summarizes the great mysteries of the Catholic faith. The Our Father, which introduces each mystery, is from the Gospels. The first part of the Hail Mary is the angel’s words announcing Christ’s birth and Elizabeth’s greeting to Mary. St. Pius V officially added the second part of the Hail Mary. The Mysteries of the Rosary center on the events of Christ’s life. There are four sets of Mysteries: Joyful, Sorrowful, Glorious and––added by Pope  John Paul II in 2002––the Luminous.”
 
Here is a listing of the five sets of mysteries: The Joyful Mysteries are the Annunciation (Luke 1:28), the Visitation (Luke 1:41-2), the Nativity (Luke 2:7), the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple (Luke 2:22), and the finding Jesus in the Temple (Luke 2:46). The Luminous Mysteries (The Mysteries of Light) are the Baptism of Christ in the Jordan (Matthew 3:16-17), the wedding feast at Cana (John 2:4-6), Jesus’ proclamation of the coming of the Kingdom of God (Matthew 1:14-15), the Transfiguration (Luke 9:29), and the institution of the Eucharist (Luke 22:19-20). The Sorrowful Mysteries are the agony in the garden (Luke 22:44-45), the scourging at the pillar (John 19:1), the crowning with thorns (Matthew 27:28-29), the carrying of the cross (John 19:17, and the crucifixion and death (Luke 23:46). The Glorious Mysteries are the resurrection (Mark 16:6), the Ascension (Mark 16:19), the descent of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:2), the Assumption (Judith 15:10-11), and the Coronation of Mary (Cf. Revelation 12:1). The Roman Catholic rosary beads or the Psalter of Mary can benefit anyone at any phase of his or her spiritual life from novices to advance.  The ultimate goal is a boundless love for God and union with God.


Anglican Prayer Beads

This brief article is to introduce to the reader a new tool to assist with contemplative prayer that is used in the Anglican Communion – the Anglican prayer beads. It is also known as the Anglican rosary, Christian prayer beads, or Anglican/Episcopalian prayer beads.
 
Since the earliest of times prayer beads are present in almost every culture. People have used pebbles or a string of knots or beads on a cord to keep track of prayers presented to God. Using prayer beads as a tool of meditation is as old as human history.    
 
Church prayer has been a pivotal part of Christian living. Saint Luke wrote that the newly baptized committed themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fraternity, to the breaking of bread and prayers (Acts 2:42). Saint Paul urges us to pray without ceasing to give thanks in all instances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18).  
 
Every major religious tradition used prayer beads throughout history. The earliest recorded examples are the Malabeads of the Hindu and Buddhist faiths. The Eastern Orthodox has a prayer cord with cross-knots, and the Roman Catholics have the rosary. The Roman Catholic rosary originated sometime between the 12th and 15th century. There are also the Islamic prayer beads called the Misbahaor the Tasbih.
 
The Rev. Lynn Baumann from the Episcopal Church in the United States created the Anglican prayer beads in the mid-1980s as an aid to contemplative prayer. Prayer beads have grown in approval among those seeking to enrich their prayer life. The prayer beads been adopted by Lutherans, Methodists, and other Protestant groups, thus giving rise to the term Christian prayer beads. There’s also a nondenominational variation known as the Earth Rosary. Consisting of four sets of 13 beads, which indicate the 13 weeks in each of the four seasons, the Earth Rosary has a total of 52 beads, representing each week of the year.
 
The Anglican prayer beads are made up of 33 beads, which represent the years of Jesus’ earthy life, while the Catholic rosary has 59. It is divided into four weeks of seven beads each, and the Catholic rosary has five decades of 10 beads a piece. A single bead separates the weeks and decades on both rosaries.  
 
Beads: Gateway to Prayer, an article written by Maryknoll Brother John Beeching enlightens us about prayer beads, “When we start to pray with beads, our prayer forms on our lips, but gradually it internalizes, welling from within our heart. As we progress, the prayer may become simply awareness or getting lost in the Divine.”
 
Anglican prayer beads is a simply tool to assist in one’s prayer life. Anglican prayer beads are used as a tactile aid to prayer. It helps to bring us into contemplative of meditative prayer by use of mind, body, and spirit. The touching of the fingers on each bead helps in keeping our mind from drifting, and the cadence of the prayers steers us more easily into quietness.
 
Trappist monk and priest Dom M. Basil Pennington reminds us in Praying by Hand: Rediscovering the Rosary as a Way of Prayer, prayer beads simply are a method or instrument “to help us pray, to enter into communion and union with God. Therefore, we should feel free to use it or pray it in any way that helps us to enter into that union.”


Nicene Creed (Prayer)

I believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible. I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages. God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father; through him all things were made. For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate, he suffered death and was buried, and rose again on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead and his kingdom will have no end. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets. I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. I confess one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen.



How do we pray with icons?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church points out, “the life of prayer is the habit of being in the presence of …God” (2565).  
 
“To pray is to pay attention to something or someone other than oneself. Whenever a man so concentrates his attention . . . that he completely forgets his own ego and desires, he is praying” (Jim Forest, Praying with Icons, Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1979), p. 29).  (Cf. Michael Cuozzo, The Theological Aspects of Holy Icons in the Orthodox Church (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Saint Elias School of Orthodox Theology, Nebraska, 1998), p. 84)
 
The Greek word ikon, from which the English term is derived, means likeness, image, representation. 
 
All icons are dogmatic statements, each one is a homily on the Gospel message, Saint Paul wrote: “Let us give glory to God! He is able to make you stand firm in your faith, according to the Good News I preach about Jesus Christ and according to the revelation of the secret truth which was hidden for long ages in the past” (Romans 16:25-26). Thus, the key to understanding iconography is to understand the Gospel.  (Cf. Michael Cuozzo, The Theological Aspects of Holy Icons in the Orthodox Church (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Saint Elias School of Orthodox Theology, Nebraska, 1998), p. 84)
 
Icons were created for the main purpose of offering access, through the gate of the visible, to the mystery of the invisible. Icons are painted to lead the faithful into the inner room of prayer, to bring them close to the heart of God. The icons themselves always before them, they were painted for both the glory of God and for salvation. (Ibid. pp. 84-85.)
 
As one prays with icons it is significant to gaze at the icon with complete attention and to pray with them. Gazing is probably the best word to touch the core of Eastern spirituality. The Andrew J. Krivak article “Gates of Mystery: The Art of Holy Russia” in America wrote: “The Father of Western monasticism, Saint Benedict, taught that prayer must begin with listening. In the Eastern Christian tradition, the essence of prayer is the gazing” (Andrew J. Krivak, “Gate of Mystery: The Art of Holy Russia,” America, Vol. 168. No. 4, 1993, February, p. 24).  (Cf. Michael Cuozzo, The Theological Aspects of Holy Icons in the Orthodox Church (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Saint Elias School of Orthodox Theology, Nebraska, 1998), p. 85)
 
It is important to remember that praying with icons is to just gaze attentively at an icon and let God speak. The icon inspires and instructs; it makes present the holy one depicted there; it is a channel for divine grace to pass to the person praying; it leads into prayer and communion with God. (Ibid.)


Apostles Creed (Prayer)

I believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried; he descended into hell; on the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty; from there he will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.


Athanasian Creed (Prayer)

  1. Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholic faith;
  2. Which faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.
  3. And the Catholic faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity;
  4. Neither confounding the persons nor dividing the substance.
  5. For there is one person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Spirit.
  6. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit is all one, the glory equal, the majesty coeternal.
  7. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Spirit.
  8. The Father uncreated, the Son uncreated, and the Holy Spirit uncreated.
  9. The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Spirit incomprehensible.
  10. The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Spirit eternal.
  11. And yet they are not three eternals but one eternal.
  12. As also there are not three uncreated nor three incomprehensible, but one uncreated and one incomprehensible.
  13. So likewise the Father is almighty, the Son almighty, and the Holy Spirit almighty.
  14. And yet they are not three almighties, but one almighty.
  15. So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God;
  16. And yet they are not three Gods, but one God.
  17. So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Spirit Lord;
  18. And yet they are not three Lords but one Lord.
  19. For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge every Person by himself to be God and Lord;
  20. So are we forbidden by the Catholic religion to say; There are three Gods or three Lords.
  21. The Father is made of none, neither created nor begotten.
  22. The Son is of the Father alone; not made nor created, but begotten.
  23. The Holy Spirit is of the Father and of the Son; neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.
  24. So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Spirit, not three Holy Spirits.
  25. And in this Trinity none is afore or after another; none is greater or less than another.
  26. But the whole three persons are coeternal, and coequal.
  27. So that in all things, as aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshipped.
  28. He therefore that will be saved must thus think of the Trinity.
  29. Furthermore it is necessary to everlasting salvation that he also believe rightly the incarnation of our Lord Jesus              Christ.
  30. For the right faith is that we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and man.
  31. God of the substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds; and man of substance of His mother, born in the                world.
  32. Perfect God and perfect man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting.
  33. Equal to the Father as touching His Godhead, and inferior to the Father as touching His manhood.
  34. Who, although He is God and man, yet He is not two, but one Christ.
  35. One, not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh, but by taking of that manhood into God.
  36. One altogether, not by confusion of substance, but by unity of person.
  37. For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man, so God and man is one Christ;
  38. Who suffered for our salvation, descended into hell, rose again the third day from the dead;
  39. He ascended into heaven, He sits on the right hand of the Father, God, Almighty;
  40. From thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
  41. At whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies;
  42. and shall give account of their own works.
  43. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting and they that have done evil into everlasting fire.
  44. This is the Catholic faith, which except a man believe faithfully he cannot be saved. Amen.


Lectio Divina

 
“Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” (Saint Jerome, 340-420)
 
The Second Vatican Ecumenical Council (Concilium Oecumenicum Vaticanum Secundum 1962 – 1965) urged all Catholics to return to Scripture as a way of “supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” (Philippians 3:8)
 
“It is especially necessary that listening to the word of God should become a life-giving encounter, in the ancient and ever valid tradition of lectio divina, which draws from the biblical text the living Word which questions, directs and shapes our lives.” (Pope John Paul II Novo Millennio Ineunte, 39)
 
This brief article is a summary of the ancient practice of lectio divina. Lectio divina is Latin for Divine Reading. This style of prayer dates back to the early monastic tradition. Trappist monk Father Thomas Merton (1915 -1968) wrote, “It is understood that the personal prayer of the monk is embedded in a life of psalmody, liturgical celebration and the meditative reading of Scripture (lectio divina).”
 
How great it is to come into the depths of God’s Word. We are able to “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:9) and his words are “more desirable than gold, than a hoard of purest gold, sweeter also than honey or drippings from the comb.” (Psalm 19:11) Love, peace, and happiness are ours when we learn to “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.(Colossians 3:16)
 
“Lectio Divina is Latin for divine reading, spiritual reading, or “holy reading,” and represents a method of prayer and scriptural reading intended to engender communion with the Triune God and to increase in the knowledge of God’s Word. It is a way of praying with Scripture that calls one to study, ponder, listen and, finally, pray from God’s Word.” We are urged to listen with our hearts because it was the Word of God that we are hearing.
 
Trappist monk Father Thomas Keating (1923), founder of the centering prayer movement explain what lectio divina is not. “It is not traditional Bible study, not reading the Scriptures for understanding and edification, and not praying the Scriptures (though praying the Scriptures can be a form of lectio divina when a word or phrase is taken from the Scriptures to focus on for the purpose of going into “God’s presence.””) Father Keating exclaims that lectio divina is a beginning into the more intense practices of centering prayer and contemplative prayer.
 
Guigo II the Carthusian (1114 – c. 1193), the Prior of the Grande Chartreuse, said about Lectio Divina, “Reading is the careful study of the Scriptures, concentrations of one’s powers on it.  Meditation is the busy application of the mind to seek with the help of one’s own reason for knowledge of hidden truth.  Prayer is the heart’s devoted turning to God to drive away evil and obtain what is good.  Contemplation is when the mind is in some sort lifted to God and held above itself, so that it tastes the joys of everlasting sweetness.” The monk continues, “Reading, as it were, put the food into the mouth; meditation chews it and breaks it up; prayer extracts its flavor; contemplation is the sweetness itself which gladdens and refreshes.”  Saint John Chrysostom (347-407) is known for his eloquence in preaching and public speaking, said about Scripture, “To get the full flavor of an herb, it must be pressed between the fingers, so it is the same with the Scriptures; the more familiar they become, the more they reveal their hidden treasures and yield their indescribable riches.”
 
A 7th-century Assyrian bishop and theologian best remembered for his written work, Isaac of Nineveh, wrote: “Do not approach then words of Scripture, full of mystery, without prayer… say to God: “Lord, make me perceive the strength that is to be found here.” (Voir J. Wensink, Mystic Treatise by Isaac of Nineveh (Amsterdam, 1923), par. 329, ch. XLV, p. 220) What we pursue in a text of Scripture is not an abstract, irrelevant meaning; it is a force able of transforming us, the reader.
 
Benedictine Friar Luke Dysinger, explains that this “VERY ANCIENT art, practiced at one time by all Christians, is the technique known as lectio divina – a slow, contemplative praying of the Scriptures which enables the Bible, the Word of God, to become a means of union with God.” “The method of Lectio Divina includes moments of reading (lectio), reflecting on (meditatio), responding to (oratio) and resting in (contemplatio) the Word of God with the aim of nourishing and deepening one’s relationship with the Divine.”
 
An Invitation to Centering Prayer with and Introduction to Lectio Divina, by Basil Pennington and Luke Dysinger (Liguori/Triumph, 2001) has included a brief synopsis of Lectio Divina. The author will present the teachings exactly as written.
 
LECTIO DIVINA is an ancient spiritual art that is being rediscovered in our day. It is a way of allowing the Scriptures to become again what God intended that they should be – a means of uniting us to Himself. In lectio divina we discover our own underlying spiritual rhythm. We experience God in a gentle oscillation back and forth between spiritual activity and receptivity, in the movement from practice into contemplation and back again into spiritual practice.
 
LECTIO DIVINA teaches us about the God who truly loves us. In lectio divina we dare to believe that our loving Father continues to extend His embrace to us today. And His embrace is real. In His word we experience ourselves as personally loved by God; as the recipients of a word which He gives uniquely to each of us whenever we turn to Him in the Scriptures.
 
FINALLY, lectio divina teaches us about ourselves. In lectio divina we discover that there is no place in our hearts, no interior corner or closet that cannot be opened and offered to God. God teaches us in lectio divina what it means to be members of His royal priesthood – a people called to consecrate all of our memories, our hopes and our dreams to Christ. Saint Teresa of Avila (1515- 1582), also called Saint Teresa of Jesus, invites us to contemplate the humanity of the Son with the eyes of the Father. “For, in giving us, as He did, His Son, which is His Word and He has no other – He spoke to us all together, once and for all, in this single Word, and He has no occasion to speak further.” “All troubles of the Church, all the evils in the world, flow from this source: that men [women] do not by clear and sound knowledge and serious consideration penetrates into the truths of Sacred Scripture.” (Attributed to Saint Theresa of Avila) In closing, Lectio divina has no goal other than that of being in the presence of God by praying the Scriptures.  Let the spirit, the Word of God, live abundantly in your mouth and in your hearts.


Prayer for the Indwelling of the Spirit

Holy Spirit, powerful Consoler, sacred Bond of the Father and the Son, Hope of the afflicted, descend into my heart and establish in it Your loving dominion. Enkindle in my tepid soul the fire of Your Love so that I may be wholly subject to You. We believe that when you dwell in us, You also prepare a dwelling for the Father and the Son. Deign, therefore, to come to me, Consoler of abandoned souls, and Protector of the needy. Help the afflicted, strengthen the weak, and support the wavering. Come and purify me, Let no evil desire take possession of me. You love the humble and resist the proud. Come to me, Glory of the living, and Hope of the dying. Lead me by Your grace that I may always be pleasing to you. Amen.




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