Friday, February 11, 2011

Don't have time to pray?

Sure you do. It takes less time than you think.

Within the wide, variegated collection of Catholic prayers are short prayers known as aspirations, so called because they take one breath or less to say. To get you started, let me give you just one:

Lord, Thy will be done.

Upset because some jerk cut you off in traffic? Got some bad news about a relative (in the hospital, in jail, in his/her final hours)? Just got your lay-off notice? Facing a very unpleasant task or circumstance? In saying, "Lord, Thy will be done," you've prayed, accepted the situation, offered up your suffering and re-committed yourself to discipleship in five words. And it took less than five seconds. You may also have gained a partial indulgence. And you can do it while you're doing something else.

(By the way, the Sign of the Cross, when performed with the traditional words "In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen," also gains a partial indulgence.)

There are plenty of others; check out this website for a list. Please note that neither "Jesus H. Christ!" nor "Good Lord on a bicycle!" are aspirations. But "Jesus, Mary and Joseph!" is ... which is why it's commonly associated with the Irish.

Please note that I'm not suggesting a steady diet of aspirations is all you need for a solid prayer life. I'm saying that by themselves they're better than not praying at all, and that they can even help you deal with the many irritants and obstacles of quotidian existence in a manner that builds discipleship.

I'm also saying that you do have time to pray. Because the simplest prayers take no time at all, at all.

[H/T to Fr. John Zuhlsdorf! Has to be a hat, since I can't wear a biretta ....]