prayer in a pinch

Having a well-stocked arsenal of memorized prayers is part of being raised a Catholic. As children we were taught the classic three: Our Father, Hail Mary and the Glory Be. Along with the Apostles Creed, they are the basis of the rosary so we had lots of practice rattling them off. In high school, the Sisters made us stop and offer these prayers whenever an ambulance went by. Since we were mere blocks away from a hospital, we sometimes had several prayer breaks in a class. My husband and I used car rides as an opportunity to practice the classic three with our children. Each trip began by raising a prayer for safe travels. It was stressed even more strongly when they began driving!

A favourite for children was the Prayer to our Guardian Angels. It was comforting to know that God gifted each one of us with a special, spiritual companion to keep us safe.

Then there was the prayer for the dead; Eternal rest, grant unto them O, Lord… It is a prayer that comes effortlessly to the lips when you hear of the passing of a soul. It connects us in the midst of sorrow and offers simple words, when there are none to say.

With five children, something was always getting lost. St. Anthony, the patron saint of lost things, was the friend to call on.  Tony, Tony, turn around…something`s lost and must be found. It`s a friendly prayer, and  St. Tony usually pulls through for us!

I tease my husband about his family`s patron saint – St. Jude, the patron of hopeless causes. But prayers were (and are) raised every night, through his intercession, that the family may handle all the stresses that life will bring.

The Prayer to the Holy Spirit helps me to focus and ask for wisdom before a presentation, a writing task, or discernment. It`s a good prayer for exam time – though we had to stress to our children to do their part. Study hard, and pray that you will recall what you have learned. You can`t expect miracles if you don`t do the work!

For every time, every circumstance….there`s a prayer. The prayer may be short and sweet, but it helps us to acknowledge the presence of the Divine in the midst of the ordinary.

2 thoughts on “prayer in a pinch

  1. Here is a story of the Bishop learning how to pray only in a pinch!

    “When the Bishop’s ship stopped at a remote island for a day, he determined to use the time as profitably as possible. He strolled along the seashore and came across three fishermen mending their nets. They explained to him that centuries before their poor village had been visited by missionaries. “We are Christians” they said, proudly pointing to one another. The Bishop was impressed. Did they know the Lord’s Prayer? They had never heard of it.

    “What do you say, then, when you pray?”

    “We lift our eyes to heaven, and we pray, ‘We are three, and You are three, have mercy on us.’”

    The Bishop was appalled at the primitive, inadequate nature of their prayer. So he spent the whole day teaching them the Lord’s Prayer. The fishermen were poor illiterate men, and slow learners, but they gave it all they had. Before the Bishop sailed away the next day, he had the satisfaction of hearing them go through the whole prayer without fault.

    Months later, the Bishop’s ship happened to pass by those same islands. They stopped at a neighboring island. That night, as the Bishop strolled back and forth on deck, he recalled with much satisfaction, that the three men on that island were now able to pray, thanks to his patient efforts. While he was lost in thought, he happened to look up and noticed a spot of light on the water, near the island. The light kept approaching the ship, and as the Bishop gazed in wonder, he saw three figures walking on the water. When they came closer, he could clearly see that it was the three fishermen, each smiling and waving, and glowing rather brightly.

    “Bishop,” they called out, “we are so sorry. We forgot your lovely prayer. We remember, ‘Our Father, who art in Heaven, Hallowed by They Name’, and then we forget the rest. Please teach us to pray again.”

    The Bishop swallowed, and then said, “Go back to your homes, my friends. And each time you pray, say, ‘We are three, and You are three, have mercy on us.’””

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