When a prayer becomes a stumbling block

2015-09-17 12.08.55

In our parish’s Perpetual Adoration Chapel there are some prayer booklets. Adorers are asked to begin their Holy Hour with these prayers so that there is a continuous unity of prayer flowing through the chapel. The booklet is several typed pages and contains prayers such as the Divine Praises, a prayer for priests, a specific prayer for each priest who has served our parish during its history, prayers for deceased Adorers, and so on. It takes only a few minutes to pray these prayers and then your time in the Chapel is your own, to pray or meditate as you wish.

The language in some of these prayers is more flowery than my no-nonsense nature normally goes for, but that’s no big deal. For me, the problem comes in the words of the Prayer for the Holy Father (specifically the words I include here in bold):

Lord God, we thank you for the gift of Francis as Pope for our times. You have called him to this office at a very critical time in salvation history. We ask through the intercession of the Blessed Mother that you shower him with the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit in full measure. Strengthen, protect, console and guide him in his efforts to defend the truths of the Catholic Faith against her enemies. May he always be the Sovereign Pontiff you are calling him to be, and may he work unceasingly to foster the restoration of the Church to her former glory.

We pledge our complete fidelity to our Holy Father when he proclaims the traditional teachings of Holy Mother Church. Grant us an unwavering faith that will persevere until the end in the midst of whatever darkness or persecution may befall us. We offer this prayer from the safe and secure refuge of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Amen.

To me, this prayer reads like someone has an axe to grind. Is there a claim in it that the Holy Father is not always proclaiming the “traditional teachings” of the Church?

As to “former glory,” that’s extremely subjective. What qualifies as “glory”? Hasn’t the Church nearly always undergone times of persecution, scandal, mismanagement and lukewarm faith? What is this “glory”? Should we seek glory in this world–even for the Church?

I feel like this prayer is a veiled criticism of the Pope and a wish for a throwback to some unspecified time in history that, in this prayer-writer’s nostalgic view, is somehow superior to our own.

So I’ve stopped using that prayer booklet. Instead, I begin my Holy Hour with the Divine Praises and the Angelus (since my hour begins at noon–it’s Angelus time!)

What do you think of this prayer? Am I reading too much into it?

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8 thoughts on “When a prayer becomes a stumbling block

  1. I agree with you. I have a relative who is supportive of the notion that if we went back to the Latin form of Mass that the faithful will come back. I think that ship has sailed and society has changed and the Church needs to make small adjustments in her approach to the absolute teachings of the Church. I believe, more than anything. that Pope Francis has moved the spotlight. If we picture maslow’s hierarchy of needs, He is focused on the bottom level of food, shelter, etc. Rather than higher levels.

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    1. Thanks for your response. I do like the part of the prayer asking for the Holy Spirit to shower gifts upon the Pope–it’s just those 2 lines that get to me. And I’m not sure where the prayer comes from; I’ve googled it several times with no success. Good point about the Pope and where he’s emphasizing things on the hierarchy of needs. I think he’s taking a page from St. Junipero Serra in that regard. Basic human needs must be met with mercy before moving on to other levels.

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  2. Sounds like you hit the nail on the head to me. Is there a group of parishioners who prefer TLM? Maybe placing info about Mater Ecclesia Parish and directions attached to the prayer would remind them that TLM is available if they want it and to not make the rest of us feel “less Catholic” for preferring mass in the vernacular.

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  3. “Small adjustments to the absolute teachings of the Church”? Telling people they should go elsewhere for Mass and not bother you? I’d say that it’s that kind of thinking that prompted the author of the pray to word it in the way that they did. Please stop shooting the messenger.

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  4. Since the Church has a unifying form of prayer that can be used privately (the Liturgy of the Hours) has anyone thought about leaving information about that in the pews? (That’s how I began praying the LOH, actually, by praying Night Prayer to end an hour of adoration!)

    And yes, I find prayers with strong subtexts annoying, too. These days I’m writing the intercessions for my parish, and work hard to be sure they are not passive-aggressive commentaries (one thing we do is have one person write, another edit, which tends to purge that right out!).

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  5. Since the prayers are on typed pages, who typed them? Find the source of the prayers with those offensive sentences on home turf, not by Googling in cyberspace. Ask your pastor, and let us know.

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