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A Priest’s Prayer life.

2011 September 5
by Gordon Reid

Since my post on how I say the office, some people have asked me if that is the sum total of my prayers. The answer is, of course, No.

I look upon the Daily Office (in whatever  language) as a sort of spiritual platform on which to build my prayers. The daily Mass is also a great help to concentrate my prayer of thanksgiving, though I know that many cannot attend Mass daily, and indeed there is no obligation for either lay people or priests to do this. But everyone can say some form of a daily Office, however short.

My next staple is the Holy Rosary. I know some people think of the Rosary as a mindless recitation of Our Fathers and Hail Marys, but I find on the contrary, that the constant repetition of the same well known prayers actually frees the mind and spirit to contemplate the mysteries of the Christian Faith. And the joy of the Rosary is that it does not depend on having a book in your hand: it can be said anywhere, in the street, in your car, on a bus. (By the way, it is safer in your car to use your God-given rosary of ten fingers rather than a set of beads!). Pope John Paul II made the Rosary even more precious by adding the five Luminous Mysteries to fill the gap between Our Lord’s childhood and his Passion. The immense value of our contemplating the Baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist; the Marriage in Cana of Galilee; the Preaching of the Gospel of the Kingdom; the Transfiguration on the Mountain; and the Institution of the Holy Eucharist, is that we take the humanity of Our Lord more seriously.

So I try to say the five decades of the appropriate day every day, and sometimes (if I am walking about a lot) much more, dedicating each decade for a particular person or need.

And from all this formal prayer comes ¬†one’s private and intimate conversation with God, which can take place at any time. There we abandon the spoken word and enter into a silence of loving awareness of one another’s presence. There we hold up our loved ones and their needs, the pains of the sick and needy, our penitence for sins, the thanksgiving and praise for our “Creation, Preservation and all the blessings of this life” as the General Thanksgiving puts it (a prayer we should use very often).

As you can see, some of this takes a lot of time, but I make no apology for saying that this is the priest’s first priority. Of course, a busy parish priest cannot give as much time to formal prayer as a cloistered nun, but if he practises most of what I have listed above, prayer will simply permeate all he does.

I am reminded of the busy doctor who went to a saintly priest for advice about his prayer life. The priest said to him: “You must pray for half an hour each day. Except when you are very busy – then you must pray for an hour”!

5 Responses leave one →
  1. Martyn Gough permalink
    September 5, 2011

    many thanks. with your permisson can I copy this and give my my ordinannds in the Royal navy?

    • September 5, 2011

      Hi, Martyn. Of course you can, but don’t scare them with it! I’ve come to it after years of experimenting. Of course in the RN they will have “the long watches of the night” so they may come to meditation naturally. It is good to hear from you.

  2. September 7, 2011

    Wow. What a curriculum vitae. Easy to understand why you are the head of one of the three great AngloCatholic ‘Cathedrals’ in the country.

    Best blessings,

    Dick Lanham

  3. September 10, 2011

    I love the idea of using our God-given rosary in the car. However, after having the pleasure of seeing your car and riding in it, might I suggest a CD of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. I think EWTN sells one. :)

  4. Stacey permalink
    September 11, 2011

    EWTN airs the Chaplet of Divine Mercy (sung) at 3pm everyday. It’s lovely. :)

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