St. Casimir Church Riverside NJ detail of Brother Sun stained glass window

At SimplyCatholic.com: Prayer as Thanksgiving

My latest article on prayer, Prayer as Thanksgiving, is available at SimplyCatholic.com.

A few highlights:

Expressing our gratitude to God reinforces our relationship to him, in the same way expressing our thanks to someone for giving us a gift or helping us can strengthen our friendship or family bond.

Prayer of thanksgiving can be a spontaneous “Thank God!” after hearing good news after a difficult time, or a formal prayer such as Grace before Meals.

We need to look for, and be grateful for, God’s gifts even in difficult times or when we’re dealing with something unexpected.

Read it all at SimplyCatholic.com: Prayer as Thanksgiving.

This is the fourth in a series of eight articles on prayer. A new one will be published each Tuesday at SimplyCatholic.com.

St. Casimir Church Riverside NJ detail of Brother Sun stained glass window

At SimplyCatholic.com: Prayer as Blessing

My latest article on prayer, Prayer as Blessing, is available at SimplyCatholic.com.

A few highlights:

Blessing, as prayer, most fully exemplifies how prayer is a two-way street.

Praying in blessing and adoration is our deepest communication with God. We’re not asking for anything, confessing anything, or even thanking him.

By praying in this way, we put our spiritual priorities in order.

Read it all at SimplyCatholic.com: Prayer as Blessing.

This is the third in a series of eight articles on prayer. A new one will be published each Tuesday at SimplyCatholic.com.

Monstrance


Copyright 2021 Barb Szyszkiewicz
Photo copyright 2019 Barb Szyszkiewicz, all rights reserved.

Holy Cross Cathedral Boston 2019

At Simply Catholic: Prayer as Liturgy

I have a new article up at Our Sunday Visitor’s SimplyCatholic.com: Prayer as Liturgy.

A few highlights:

Liturgy, which includes but is not limited to the Holy Mass, is considered “formal” prayer because it follows a certain pattern, or rubric. Liturgical prayer is also “common” prayer, meant to be prayed by the community as a group.

The liturgy of the Church includes the Mass, the Liturgy of the Hours, and the celebrations of the sacraments.

Liturgical prayer invites us to engage in praise, blessing and adoration, thanksgiving, petition and intercession as a community.

Read the whole thing: Prayer as Liturgy.

This is the second in a series of eight articles on prayer. A new one will be published each Tuesday at SimplyCatholic.com.

 

Boston's Holy Cross Cathedral, copyright 2019
Boston’s Holy Cross Cathedral

 


Copyright 2021 Barb Szyszkiewicz
Photo copyright 2019 Barb Szyszkiewicz, all rights reserved.

woman raising hands in prayer, silhouetted against a sunset

At Simply Catholic: Prayer as Praise

I have a new article up at Our Sunday Visitor’s SimplyCatholic.com: Prayer as Praise.

A few highlights:

Prayer of praise is focused entirely on the expression of wonder and awe at who God is and what God has done.

The Bible shows that praising God involves not only our spiritual efforts, but our physical muscles as well.

If praising God in front of others might be outside your comfort zone, there are ways to work around this.

Just as Blessed Solanus Casey advised us to “thank God ahead of time,” we don’t have to wait until the mood strikes us to praise God.

Also: find out how we praise God at Mass.

Read the whole thing: Prayer as Praise

This is the first in a series of eight articles on prayer. A new one will be published each Tuesday at SimplyCatholic.com.

 

woman raising hands in prayer, silhouetted against a sunset

 

 

 


Copyright 2021 Barb Szyszkiewicz
Image: Stencil Pro

statue of Blessed Virgin Mary with Baby Jesus

A Simpler Approach to Marian Consecration

Do you want to grow closer to the Blessed Mother, but find yourself intimidated by the lengthy devotions and lofty language of St. Louis de Montfort’s True Devotion to Mary?  Fr. Edward Looney, a priest of the Diocese of Green Bay and vice president of the Mariological Society of America, has put together a new book to help you prepare for a 33-day consecration to Jesus through Mary.

 

Behold the Handmaid of the Lord

 

Behold the Handmaid of the Lord: A 10-Day Personal Retreat with St. Louis de Montfort’s True Devotion to Mary simplifies de Montfort’s approach without watering down its wisdom. The book, new from Ave Maria Press, is a do-it-yourself retreat that helps readers learn more about Marian consecration.

God is at work through Marian consecration; it is powerful, and it changes lives. (xv)

Fr. Edward dedicates each of the ten days of the retreat to a different title of Mary, consolidating teachings from True Devotion to Mary to clarify the rich writings and deepen devotion to the Blessed Mother. His writing style is clear and approachable, and both his scholarship and dedication to Mary are evident throughout the book.

Each day’s chapter is 10 pages or less (in a small-format book; it measures just under 5×7 inches) and begins with a teaching on that day’s title of Mary, a prayer for the day, and a traditional Marian prayer or hymn. I was surprised to find that Serdeczna Matko (“Stainless the Maiden”), a traditional Polish Marian hymn I recently sang at a funeral at my parish, was one of the hymns included in the book. Its English translation, which I had never read, is beautiful. Other prayers and hymns include the Memorare, Regina Caeli, and “Ave Maris Stella.”

During this retreat, readers will learn about these Marian titles and devotions:

  • Queen of All Saints
  • Our Lady of the Holy Trinity
  • The New Eve
  • Mother of the Interior Life
  • Mother of Disciples
  • Star of the Sea
  • Queen of All Hearts
  • Mediatrix of Grace
  • The Mold of God
  • My Mother and My Queen

I recommend that you keep a pen and journal close at hand as you read Behold the Handmaid of the Lord. I was highlighting this book all over the place as I read!

Bonus material in this book includes a chart of dates to begin Marian consecrations to end on feasts of Mary. The next three start dates are November 5, November 9, and November 29. Another very useful section is a list of 17 devotional practices found in the writings of St. Louis de Montfort. Many of these are practices you can begin with your family, such as praying the Rosary, carrying a Rosary in your pocket, praying or singing prayers and hymns in Mary’s honor, and placing an image of Mary in a place of honor in your home.

Fr. Edward Looney has written several books about Mary and frequently posts on social media about his visits to Marian shrines throughout the United States. Listen to his How They Love Mary podcast on Spotify or your favorite podcast app.


Copyright 2021 Barb Szyszkiewicz
Image: Stencil
This article contains Amazon affiliate links, which provide a small compensation to the author of this piece when purchases are made through the links, at no cost to you.
I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.

statue of angel

New from Magnificat: Nine Days with Saint Michael

We celebrate the Feast of Archangels Michael, Gabriel, and Rafael on September 29. This is the perfect time to begin a novena to the original prayer warrior, St. Michael the Archangel. Magnificat has just released Nine Days with Saint Michael, a beautiful novena of prayers for spiritual protection.

It takes a spiritual battle to be good, a battle we fight with Heaven’s help. (4)

 

Nine Days with Saint Michael

The prayers and meditations for each of the nine days focus on one aspect of St. Michael the Archangel, from his name meaning “Who is like God?” to his dignity as an archangel and Prince of the Heavenly Host, to his rebuke of the devil and affirmation of his own promise to serve God always, to his heavenly worship and the battle against the dragon (as detailed in Revelation), to his service of God at the time of our judgment.

Each day’s novena entry is structured as follows:

  • Sacred art
  • Introduction
  • Hymn
  • Scripture (the reading is included in full, so you won’t need to juggle your prayer book and Bible)
  • Meditation
  • Intercession: entrust St. Michael to bring your special intention to God at this time
  • Our Father
  • Intercession of Mary, Queen of Angels
  • Closing Prayer
  • St. Michael Prayer

Bonus content in this book includes the Litany of St. Michael and the Chaplet of St. Michael, so this book will be handy to keep around long after you finish praying the novena.

The print edition of Nine Days with Saint Michael is a lovely little book, with heavy, glossy paper that complements the sacred art (a different artist’s depiction of St. Michael, in worship and in battle, accompanies the meditation for each day). It’s a good value for the $5.99 cover price. An interior view is pictured below.

 

interior spread from Nine Days with Saint Michael

 

Nine Days with Saint Michael is available at Magnificat.com. Bulk pricing is available. A Kindle version is available on Amazon.


Copyright 2021 Barb Szyszkiewicz
Images: Canva; Magnificat.com, all rights reserved.
This article contains Amazon affiliate links; your purchases through these links benefit the author.

bookshelf with Catholic fiction titles

On My Bookshelf: Adoration for Beginners (and everyone else)

Draw Close to Jesus: A Woman’s Guide to Eucharistic Adoration is much more than a guidebook about a particular type of devotion. This new book by Merridith Frediani, published by Our Sunday Visitor, begins with an explanation about Adoration that is definitely not for beginners only. Not every parish or Adoration Chapel offers advice or instruction on customary prayer practices associated with this devotion, so you’ll find that this book fills in those gaps in a helpful way.

Draw Close to Jesus cover

Merridith explains in the Introduction to this book why it’s addressed specifically to women:

In adoration we approach God as women and pause in these tasks to acknowledge that God calls us in the deep core of our hearts. He wants us to come to him and rest. We do not need to bring anything. He knows the world is pulling at us and can be overwhelming. He knows we make mistakes, and he keeps inviting. When we come to him, we open ourselves to the one who loves us most deeply. (12)

I like to bring a journal to Adoration with me, and the short reflections in the middle of this book are perfect jumping-off places for spiritual journaling. Each reflection is brief (about two pages in length) and most are based on Scripture. At the end of the reflection, there is a “to do” item — not one that’s going to stress you out by adding more to an already overflowing list, but a spiritual action — and an invitation “to go deeper,” which notes a Scripture passage and offers a prayer prompt for contemplation and journaling. You don’t have to go through these start to finish; the book is made for readers to pick and choose the theme for their prayer.

At the end of Draw Close to Jesus, you’ll find what Merridith calls “a Catholic toolbox to rescue you when prayer just won’t seem to come” (128). There are instructions on praying the Rosary (which I find to be a good way to ease into Adoration, as the repetition of the prayers helps clear my mind of the to-do lists that distract me); the Memorare, the Litany of Trust and Litany of Humility, novenas, and the Divine Mercy Chaplet. Of course, any of these prayers can be prayed at any time (not just during Adoration) but it’s handy to have them right there if you’d like to make them part of your prayer routine.

monstrance in Adoration chapel

After keeping a weekly holy hour for more than five years, I can say that no two adorers approach this devotion the same way. In fact, I don’t approach all my holy hours the same way. But there’s useful material in Draw Close to Jesus, whether you begin your Adoration time with a Rosary or end it by reading the Bible. This book has earned its place beside my journal, pen, and holy cards in my Adoration tote bag.

Draw Close to Jesus is available for preorder now and releases Friday, August 13.


Copyright 2021 Barb Szyszkiewicz

Photo copyright 2021 Barb Szyszkiewicz, all rights reserved.

This post contains Amazon affiliate links. I was given a free review copy of this book, but no other compensation. Opinions expressed here are mine alone.

3 Handy Little Tips for Praying the Liturgy of the Hours

Welcome to this series celebrating the launch of my booklet from Our Sunday Visitor, The Handy Little Guide to Prayer! I’ve asked some friends and colleagues to share prayers and tips to supplement the information in this booklet.

The Liturgy of the Hours follows a daily rhythm of prayer throughout the liturgical year. If Scripture is inspiring to you and structure is helpful when you pray, this type of prayer is a perfect fit. I’ve prayed the Liturgy of the Hours since my college days, and it’s not a practice you pick up overnight. It takes time to get used to following the format of this prayer, and it’s easier when you learn it in a group rather than on your own.

Are you interested in praying the Liturgy of the Hours? Try this advice from Daria Sockey, author of The Everyday Catholic’s Guide to the Liturgy of the Hours. I asked Daria what beginners to this form of prayer need to know.

What 3 tips would you share with someone who’s just beginning to pray the Liturgy of the Hours?

  1. Start small. Choose one or at the most two liturgical hours and stick with that until you are comfortable. My choice for a beginner would be Night Prayer, a.k.a. compline. It’s the easiest to follow, since it’s a seven-day repeating cycle with no fancy variations for the liturgical seasons. No ribbon flipping required.
  2. Use a breviary app before investing in a four-volume breviary. Everything is all laid out for you, no guessing or worrying that you are on the wrong page. Also, you can experiment with adding the other hours until you’ve figured out what works best for you.
  3. Join a Facebook group of Liturgy of the Hours fans. There are several good ones with lots of members who were once rank beginners and are now eager to help other newcomers. (Or buy my book to learn the how-tos and the why-tos.)

How would you encourage someone who finds the Liturgy of the Hours too complicated?

If you try the fairly uncomplicated Night prayer for two weeks running and still don’t like it, then maybe this is not for you. That’s okay — there are many other ways to pray! But if those lovely night time psalms grab your heart like they did mine so many years ago, then find someone to help you get over the complicated parts. It’s like learning to ride a bike. Awkward at first, but once you’ve got it down you’ll never forget.

What do you love about praying the Liturgy of the Hours?

For me it’s the best way to do those two things that we all say we want to do and know we need to do: to pray often, and to immerse ourselves in the Word of God. I don’t have to separate my spiritual schedule into separate chunks of “now I’m going to pray” and “now I’m going to read Scripture.” Instead, I pray Scripture!

Daria Sockey writes at Coffee and Canticles, a blog about all things Breviary, and is the author of The Everyday Catholic’s Guide to the Liturgy of the Hours.


Share The Handy Little Guide to Prayer with someone you know. It’s now available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, BooksAMillion.com, and OSVCatholicBooks.com!


Copyright 2021 Barb Szyszkiewicz

Support Franciscanmom.com by purchasing books mentioned here through my Amazon affiliate links.

#MorningCommutePrayer: A Handy Little Prayer Tip from Bonnie Rodgers

Welcome to this series celebrating the launch of my booklet from Our Sunday Visitor, The Handy Little Guide to Prayer! I’ve asked some friends and colleagues to share prayers and tips to supplement the information in this booklet.

When it comes to intercessory prayer, I like to think that God’s motto is “No job too small.” We teach our children to go to God with big things and little things, but as we grow up, we sometimes pray as if only the big things are worthy of God’s attention.

I began paying extra attention to the way people talk about prayer when I started writing The Handy Little Guide to Prayer for Our Sunday Visitor. As I wrote this booklet during the pandemic, when I wasn’t seeing too many people who didn’t live with me, I turned my focus to the ways prayer was mentioned on social media. I’d already been following Catholic TV producer Bonnie Rodgers on Twitter, and her daily custom of a #morningcommuteprayer was a fascinating call to prayer for big and small intentions alike.

Intercessory prayer is a type of prayer in which we ask God to bless others in specific ways. In my booklet, I mention using moments or transitions in your day as prayer cues. Bonnie’s Morning Commute Prayers are the perfect example of this practice.

I interviewed Bonnie, the producer of CatholicTV’s signature talk show, This Is the Day (Bonnie also works in Business Development and Expansion for the station) about this prayer practice and why she shares it on social media.

When did you start posting your Morning Commute Prayer intentions on Twitter? 

My Catholic experiences included making the sign of the cross at cemeteries, ambulances and all emergency vehicles, accident scenes, passing a church (obvi!) so being aware of everyday situations that required Divine Intervention was almost rote for me. But almost two years ago now when I was driving into work with the car windows open on an amazingly beautiful New England spring day I saw an early-teen boy being taunted at a bus stop. He was carrying something and kids seemed to be teasing him about it. I am a super busybody and really wanted to jump out of the car to intervene but realized that it could potentially cause more problems for the teen (can you imagine the kids’ reactions?) but I felt compelled to do something without exacerbating the situation and then it came to me that I could pray for him and even for the kiddos taunting him.  

Why do you share these on social media? 

I made the decision to put my commute prayer on Twitter because teasing and taunting take place everywhere and quite frankly amplifying my prayer for that teen seemed necessary. I kept thinking of how it was such a beautiful day and his day was off to a horrendous start. 

Do you choose these intentions ahead of time or do you pray as you go? 

Normally I pray as I go, but there have been times when someone has DM’d asking for a prayer intention or when an anniversary of some kind comes up. During COVID I did a lot of neighborhood walking and was seeing Marian statues, so for the month of May I started #ISpyMary. I really love how these public displays of devotion break into our lives when we least expect it. 

Is there a particular intention that has ever gone viral or attracted a great deal of attention?

This winter, a very pragmatic prayer for cleared accessible walkways (frozen snow piles and melted slush in the Northeast are a hazard) for those in wheelchairs, garnered the attention of an accessibility rights organization and some replies included personal experiences with slush. 

How does the Morning Commute Prayer connect you to others who pray? 

Oddly enough, I am a fairly private person but sharing my observations and requests for prayer has bolstered my awareness that our intercessory prayers – whether during the workday or the Liturgy – are our way of expanding our community. The “who is your neighbor?” question is played out daily in the digital landscape in so many wonderful ways.


Share The Handy Little Guide to Prayer with someone you know. It’s available on Amazon and OSVCatholicBooks.com.


Copyright 2021 Barb Szyszkiewicz

Support Franciscanmom.com by purchasing books mentioned here through my Amazon affiliate links.

A Handy Little Prayer Tip from Kate Taliaferro

Welcome to this series celebrating the launch of my booklet from Our Sunday Visitor, The Handy Little Guide to Prayer! I’ve asked some friends and colleagues to share prayers and tips to supplement the information in this booklet.

Would you like to try lectio divina prayer? Try this!

Kate Taliaferro blogs at DailyGraces.net. Find her on Instagram @dailygraces3.


Share The Handy Little Guide to Prayer with someone you know. It’s now available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, BooksAMillion.com, and OSVCatholicBooks.com!


Copyright 2021 Barb Szyszkiewicz

Support Franciscanmom.com by purchasing books mentioned here through my Amazon affiliate links.