Thursday, February 21, 2008

Got to Pray

MC Hammer came out with a "song" in 1990 telling anyone who would listen: "We need to pray/just to make it today." The Los Angeles Catholic Worker, although founded almost two decades before the song hit the charts, shares similar sentiments. We pray everyday, and often times more than once. We also have a two hour Bible study each Wednesday, followed by an evening liturgy service. If you're in LA, come by and visit to experience it!

Even though I have gone through youth groups, Sunday school, confirmation, retreats, and many other Catholic rituals, praying has never been my strong suit. But having it integrated into community life has helped me to appreciate the words that we recite in unison. The words have new meanings each day and I am surprised by my consistent desire to be centered when the community shares the short moments of prayer. The time is precious reflection we have each day.

The prayers below are the ones we use most often. Enjoy!

I should like a great lake of finest ale, for the King of Kings
I should like a table of the choicest food, for the family of heaven.
Let the ale be made from the fruits of faith, and the food be forgiving love.
I should welcome the poor to my feast, for they are God’s children.
I should welcome the sick to my feast, for they are God’s joy.
Let the poor sit with Jesus at the highest place, and the sick dance with the angels
God bless the poor, God bless the sick, and bless our human race.
God bless our food, God bless our drink, all homes, O God, embrace.
--St. Bridget of Kildare

Oh, God, when I have food, help me to remember the hungry.
When I have work, help me to remember the jobless.
When I am without pain, help me to remember those who suffer.
And in remembering, help me to destroy my complacency and bestir my compassion.
Make me concerned enough to help, by word and deed,
those who cry out for what we take for granted.
--Samuel Pugh

You will find that charity is a heavy burden to carry,
heavier than the bowl of soup and the full basket.
But you will keep your gentleness and your smile.
It is not enough to give bread and soup. This the rich can do.
You are the servant of the poor, always smiling and always good humored.
They are your masters, terribly sensitive and exacting masters you will soon see.
The uglier and dirtier they will be, the more unjust and insulting,
the more love you must give them.
It is for your love alone that the poor will forgive you,
the bread you give them.
--St. Vincent de Paul

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.
And I hope that I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road,
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore I will trust you always,
though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.
--Thomas Merton