Growing in the Life of Prayer and Spiritual Practices
Prayer is a way to connect with the Divine. The Catholic Faith is rich in spiritual practices including many different types of individual prayer, community prayer, and practices of caring. There are prayer forms that will be fruitful for anyone from the most traditional Catholic to someone who is spiritual but not religious. We invite you to learn about different prayer forms and spiritual practices. Try the ones that attract you. If you are not drawn to a practice, enjoy the fact that some others in the world-wide Catholic community enter into their faith this way.
Breathe in Gratitude
Prayer of Thanksgiving
Vienna Cobb Anderson
God of all blessings,
source of all life,
giver of all grace:
We thank you for the gift of life:
for the breath
that sustains life,
for the food of this earth
that nurtures life,
for the love of family and friends
without which there would be no life.
We thank you for setting us in communities:
who nurture our becoming,
who love us by choice,
for companions at work,
who share our burdens and daily tasks,
who welcome us into their midst,
for people from other lands
who call us to grow in understanding,
who lighten our moments with delight,
for the unborn,
who offer us hope for the future.
We thank you for the mystery of creation:
for the beauty
that the eye can see,
for the joy
that the ear may hear,
for the unknown
that we cannot behold filling the universe with wonder,
for the expanse of space
that draws us beyond the definitions of our selves.
We thank you for this day:
and one more day to love,
and one more day to work for justice and peace,
and one more person to love
and by whom be loved,
for your grace
and one more experience of your presence,
for your promise:
to be with us,
to be our God,
and to give salvation.
For these, and all blessings,
we give you thanks, eternal, loving God,
through Jesus Christ we pray. Amen.
Sleeping with Bread: Holding What Gives You Life
by Dennis Linn, Sheila Fabricant Linn, Matthew Linn
"This book is about asking ourselves two questions: For what am I most grateful? For what am I least grateful? These questions help us identify moments of consolation and desolation. We call this process the examen."
"We have given retreats in over forty countries, and we find that regardless of culture or age group, this simple process is the most helpful way for people to hear the voice of God guiding them from within."
"For centuries, prayerful people have found direction for their days and for their lives by identifying these moments. Since even small children can do this, we have tried here to present the examen in a format that families, friends and communities can share and that will be easily accessible to anyone. We hope the examen will enrich your lives and your relationships as much as it has ours."
THE GRATITUDE GAME: PICK-UP STICKS
Teaching gratitude is at the top of my list for my kids. I love to do things to remind my kids of the many blessings we have. There is so much in our lives to be thankful for. I created this little Gratitude Game to play with them this Fall for the Thanksgiving season, and we have been having loads of fun with it! But this can be done at ANY time of year, not just Thanksgiving time!
THE GRATITUDE GAME: SKITTLES
"I really wanted to help the children focus on things that the are grateful for in their lives. I wanted them to go beyond the list of typical answers and really thing about things that they appreciate in their lives.
The first activity I asked them to do was create these Gratitude Journal envelopes. I printed out a gratitude prompt for each of the days in November. They cut them out and made their own envelopes to store the prompts in. I encouraged them to pull out the card for each day throughout the month of November and record the things they are grateful for all month long.
When the kids were done creating their gratitude journal envelopes, we were ready to play our gratitude game."
Pope: The prayer of Christians must be the breath of the Church
In a previously unpublished work, Pope Francis highlights the role of prayer in the Christian life. The text is contained in a new book entitled La Preghiera. Il respiro della vita nuova, (Prayer: the breath of the new life).
"In the human body, there are some essential functions, such as breathing and the beating of the heart.
I like to imagine that the personal and communal prayer of us Christians is the breath, the heartbeat of the Church, which instills its strength in the service of those who work, study, teach; which makes fruitful the knowledge of educated people and the humility of simple people; which gives hope to the tenacity of those who fight injustice.
Prayer is our saying “yes” to the Lord, to His love that reaches us; it is welcoming the Holy Spirit Who, without ever growing weary, pours out love and life upon all."
World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation
PAPAL INTENTION FOR SEPTEMBER, 2019:
THE PROTECTION OF THE OCEANS
That politicians, scientists, and economists work together to protect the world's seas and oceans.
Pope Francis declared September 1 as the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation. Join him in praying for our common home at: http://SeasonOfCreation.org.
This video was produced by the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network.
What Everyone Should Know About Breath Prayer
The Jewish name for God – Yahweh – was not spoken, but breathed. Its correct pronunciation is an attempt to imitate the sound of inhalation and exhalation. We do that every moment: our first and last word as we enter and leave the world… The one thing we do every moment of our lives is therefore to speak the name of God. This makes it our first and our last word as we enter and leave the world. (Richard Rohr: The Naked Now)
Our spirit is the essence of who we really are, and our spirit and our breath intermingled as one. It’s electric, living, pulsating with life.
As God is spirit and as God breathed into us the breath of life, so our breath is our closest point to God. What is lacking is awareness, and here is where Breath Prayer comes in…We make the unconscious, conscious.
An intentional breath prayer is a simple way to drop our linear mind, to consciously enter into our spirit through our breath. It helps us to park our mind while we engage our spirit.
To Breathe and to Bless
by Chris Koellhoffer, IHM October 6, 2019
And as I gaze [at the other patients in the doctor's office waiting room], I also breathe my prayer. Breathprayer is a way of praying based on our breath, our inhaling and exhaling. In essence it invites us to pause and take in a breath of God, to be in communion with God’s Spirit hovering over the waters of creation, breathing life into the universe; to be in communion with the risen Jesus appearing in the locked room to his frightened disciples and breathing the peace and reassuring presence of the Spirit on them. Breathprayer connects us to the practice of statio, where, instead of rushing from one thing to another, we pause, take in several long, slow breaths, and open up a space of intention where the Holy One can work. All of this is being repeated and recreated in that waiting room as, one by one, I gaze at my companions and breathe compassion and tenderness towards them.
Whispering the words of Scripture as you are breathing in and out, slowly and deeply, over and over, can help you to “abide” in Christ (John 15:4,5,9). This is a special way to Abide in Prayer.
To meditate deeply on Scripture is to “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly” (Colossians 3:16). We take God’s Word from our mind down, down, down into our heart so that our will is formed by it.
We see quiet, reflective prayer used in the Hebrew Psalter, our prayer book.... In the Psalms we have many short prayers repeated over and over like “His love endures forever” or “Lord, have mercy.”
We also see the Psalmist breathe a prayer, in a way, when he offers words like, “My life is a breath” (Psalm 39:5, 11; 144:4, paraphrase). And the book of Psalms closes with the words: “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord” (Psalm 150:6).
And 71 times in the Psalms the Psalmist literally pauses to invite us to take a breath with him. He does this by inserting the word, “Selah.” The Selahs were added to the Psalms after they were written. “Selah” probably means, “Pause to reflect and pray.” Right in the middle of the Psalm – as it was being read or sung! – a sacred space was made to be still and quiet in prayer before the Lord.
One of the beautiful things that emerged from the disciplined life of the Desert Fathers and Mothers was their soul-full practice of Breath Prayers. They contemplated on Christ’s presence in quiet solitude, meditating on short, one breath prayers. Often they did this while sitting outside their cells and weaving baskets from reeds.
They breathed in God’s Word slowly and deeply. Gently, they repeated their prayer, over and over, letting it descend with their minds into their hearts, to form their will in the image of Christ.
The Easy Way to Pray the Liturgy of the Hours
People who pray seriously (and regularly) might soon discover that, if they rely only on their own experience and their own vocabulary when praying, sooner or later their prayer all starts to sound the same. But if they turn to the great literature of prayer: the psalms, the canticles, great hymns, and written prayers composed and collected from throughout the ages — then over time, their “prayer lexicon” expands, and they develop a deeper and more nuanced voice for prayer.
Praying the Liturgy (in part or in its entirety) is not meant to replace silent prayer practices like centering prayer or the Jesus Prayer, or for that matter Lectio Divina. And of course, praying is never meant to replace being a compassionate or loving person. On the contrary — pray the Daily Office as a way to open your heart, so that the Holy Spirit can direct you into the heart of love.
Prayers, Poems and Hymns Inspired by the Holy Spirit
The Pentecost Sequence
The Pentecost sequence is one of the most beautiful poems in the liturgy. Remind yourself how close the Holy Spirit is to you — inside you, beside you, on your side — by praying a part of the sequence every day this week. You can download it here. You will come to Pentecost Sunday full of hope and ready to follow the Spirit’s urgings.
Go to our Season tab to learn more about the Sequence Hymn of Pentecost (Veni Sancte Spiritus), and to hear the traditional Gregorian Chant of this sequence.
Also on our Season tab: Pentecost Playlists on Spotify
St. Augustine's Prayer to the Holy Spirit
Breathe in me O Holy Spirit that my thoughts may all be holy;
Act in me O Holy Spirit that my works, too, may be holy;
Draw my heart O Holy Spirit that I love but what is holy;
Strengthen me O Holy Spirit to defend that is holy;
Guard me then O Holy Spirit that I always may be holy.
What I Have Learned So Far
by Mary Oliver
Meditation is old and honorable, so why should I
not sit, every morning of my life, on the hillside,
looking into the shining world? Because, properly
attended to, delight, as well as havoc, is suggestion.
Can one be passionate about the just, the
ideal, the sublime, and the holy, and yet commit
to no labor in its cause? I don’t think so.
All summations have a beginning, all effect has a
story, all kindness begins with the sown seed.
Thought buds toward radiance. The gospel of
light is the crossroads of — indolence, or action.
Be ignited, or be gone.
Prayer to the Holy Spirit
Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful.
And kindle in them the fire of your love.
Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created.
And you will renew the face of the earth.
by the light of the Holy Spirit
you have taught the hearts of your faithful.
In the same Spirit
help us to relish what is right
and always rejoice in your consolation.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
The English translation of the Prayer to the Holy Spirit from A Book of Prayers © 1982, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. (ICEL). All rights reserved.
Prayer to the Holy Spirit
Verse by Edith Stein
Who are you, sweet light, that fills me
And illumines the darkness of my heart?
You lead me like a mother's hand,
And should you let go of me,
I would not know how to take another step.
You are the space
That embraces my being and buries it in yourself.
Away from you it sinks into the abyss
Of nothingness, from which you raised it to the light.
You, nearer to me than I to myself
And more interior than my most interior
And still impalpable and intangible
And beyond any name:
Holy Spirit eternal love!
Are you not the sweet manna
That from the Son's heart
Overflows into my heart,
The food of angels and the blessed?
He who raised himself from death to life,
He has also awakened me to new life
From the sleep of death.
And he gives me new life from day to day,
And at some time his fullness is to stream through me,
Life of your life indeed, you yourself:
Holy Spirit eternal life!
Are you the ray
That flashes down from the eternal Judge's throne
And breaks into the night of the soul
That had never known itself?
It penetrates hidden folds.
Alarmed at seeing itself,
The self makes space for holy fear,
The beginning of that wisdom
That comes from on high
And anchors us firmly in the heights,
That creates us anew:
Holy Spirit ray that penetrates everything!
Are you the spirit's fullness and the power
By which the Lamb releases the seal
Of God's eternal decree?
Driven by you
The messengers of judgment ride through the world
And separate with a sharp sword
The kingdom of light from the kingdom of night.
Then heaven becomes new and new the earth,
And all finds its proper place
Through your breath:
Holy Spirit victorious power!
Are you the master who builds the eternal cathedral,
Which towers from the earth through the heavens?
Animated by you, the columns are raised high
And stand immovably firm.
Marked with the eternal name of God,
They stretch up to the light,
Bearing the dome,
Which crowns the holy cathedral,
Your work that encircles the world:
Holy Spirit God's molding hand!
Are you the one who created the unclouded mirror
Next to the Almighty's throne,
Like a crystal sea,
In which Divinity lovingly looks at itself?
You bend over the fairest work of your creation,
And radiantly your own gaze
Is illumined in return.
And of all creatures the pure beauty
Is joined in one in the dear form
Of the Virgin, your immaculate bride:
Holy Spirit Creator of all!
Are you the sweet song of love
And of holy awe
That eternally resounds around the triune throne,
That weds in itself the clear chimes of each and every being?
That joins together the members to the Head,
In which each one
Finds the mysterious meaning of his being blessed
And joyously surges forth,
Freely dissolved in your surging:
Holy Spirit eternal jubilation!
[poem from The Collected Works of Edith Stein, © 1992 ICS Publications.]
Veni Sancte Spiritus
Come, Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit, God of light,
Fill us with your radiance bright;
Gentle father of the poor,
Make us, by your help, secure;
Come, your boundless grace impart,
Bring your love to ev'ry heart.
Lord of consolation, come,
Warm us when our hearts are numb;
Great consoler, come and heal,
To our souls your strength reveal;
Cool, refreshing comfort pour,
And our peace of mind restore.
Light immortal, fire divine,
With your love our hearts refine;
Come, our inmost being fill,
Make us all to do your will;
Goodness you alone can give,
Grant that in your grace we live.
Come, our lukewarm hearts inspire,
Mold our wills to your desire;
In our weakness make us strong,
And amend our every wrong;
Guide us when we go astray,
Wash our stain of guilt away.
Give to every faithful soul
Gifts of grace to make us whole;
Help us when we come to die,
So that we may live on high;
Ever let your love descend,
Give us joys that never end.
ascribed to Stephen Langton, c. 1150-1228(translated by Anthony G. Petti)
Prayer for the Help of the Holy Spirit
O God, send forth your Holy Spirit into my heart that I may perceive, into my mind that I may remember, and into my soul that I may meditate. Inspire me to speak with piety, holiness, tenderness and mercy. Teach, guide and direct my thoughts and senses from beginning to end. May your grace ever help and correct me, and may I be strengthened now with wisdom from on high, for the sake of your infinite mercy. Amen.
Saint Anthony of Padua
A Different Spirit
I want to tell you this:
The moment will surely come
when the Holy Spirit
will be within you:
a wild goose
stretching and straining
with her taut body,
For that moment
there will be nothing dove
about the Spirit
as she fiercely leads you
through wholesome refusals
out into those
wonderfully clear choices
within the boundaries of which
you will land so awkwardly;
but you will be like her:
exhilarated in your every part
by such strong-winged
Bernadette McCarrick, RSM
Prayer for the Gifts of the Holy Spirit
May the Spirit of God rest upon me.
May I be filled with the awesome and Holy Spirit of Jesus.
A Spirit of wisdom
To see myself and others with the eyes of God.
A Spirit of understanding
To see the heart of people and things.
A Spirit of counsel
To listen to the goodness within me and around me.
A Spirit of courage
To confront the dark and frightening things within me
and the world around me.
A Spirit of knowledge
To know what is truly valuable in life.
A Spirit of holiness
To live a humble and prayerful life.
A Spirit of reverence
To walk, talk, and act in a way that is sacred and respectful.
The Canticle of the Creatures
Laudato Si, the title chosen by Pope Francis for his encyclical, comes from a 13th century prayer written by St. Francis of Assissi called “Canticle of the Creatures.” It can be translated both as “Be Praised” or “Praised Be,” and it reoccurs several times as the prayer praises God by thanking him for creations such as “Brother Fire” and “Sister Water.”
St. Francis composed "The Canticle of the Creatures," known also as "The Canticle of Brother Sun," in the Umbrian dialect during the spring of 1225. The Canticle contains three sections: a praise of God for the creatures (sun, moon, stars, wind, water, fire, earth), a praise for those who forgive for the love of God, and a praise for sister bodily death.
Most High, all-powerful, good Lord,
Yours are the praises, the glory, and the honor, and all blessing,
To You alone, Most High, do they belong,
and no human is worthy to mention Your name.
Praised be You, my Lord, with all Your creatures,
especially Sir Brother Sun,
Who is the day and through whom You give us light.
And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendor;
and bears a likeness of You, Most High One.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars,
in heaven You formed them clear and precious and beautiful.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Wind,
and through the air, cloudy and serene, and every kind of weather,
through whom You give sustenance to Your creatures.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Water,
who is very useful and humble and precious and chaste.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
through whom You light the night,
and he is beautiful and playful and robust and strong.
Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister Mother Earth,
who sustains and governs us,
and who produces various fruit with colored flowers and herbs.
Praised be You, my Lord, through those who give pardon for Your love,
and bear infirmity and tribulation.
Blessed are those who endure in peace
for by You, Most High, shall they be crowned.
Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death,
from whom no one living can escape.
Woe to those who die in mortal sin.
Blessed are those whom death will find in Your most holy will,
for the second death shall do them no harm.
Praise and bless my Lord and give Him thanks
and serve Him with great humility.
A Franciscan presence and spirit requires living a way of life that cherishes Gospel values as St. Francis understood them. Francis tried to live as Christ lived, especially as peacemaker, as one in solidarity with the poor, as living lightly on the earth and as a brother to all creatures. Franciscan presence and spirit is also about prayer, especially prayers of praise and thanksgiving to the Lord for His love, for the gift of life and for the world we inhabit. The word 'eco' derives from the Greek word oikos meaning 'house', and so eco-prayers could mean house prayers or prayers for the world, our house in this life.
You may enjoy Praying with the Franciscan Eco-Network.