Repeated prayers

On our way to January’s Texas Tropical Trail (TTT) monthly partner event in Vattmann and Sarita, I told Ruthie the story of my Franciscan Crown.  Then I asked what her favorite colors were— “blue and beige”— and left it at that.

Beautiful couple

CMx11410-596We first met Ruthie and Bill on the Cozumel cruise with our church group in January 2010.  We sat together for dinner all but one evening.

To say she was a hoot is an understatement.  During dinner our last evening on the ship, Ruthie got up to dance with the staff and didn’t sit back down until the entertainment was over!

CMx11410-597I took photos, but the lighting was so bad that Ruthie was just a blur, though I did catch Bill looking back at her over his shoulder.

“Oh, my gosh!  Here she goes again!” Bill’s rolling eyeballs seemed to say with humor and resignation.

Thinking about it still makes me laugh, as it was beyond hilarious!  And memorable!

So, yes.  Ruthie is very special, very personable, and oh-so full of life.  She’s always up for another adventure.

Shared space

After the cruise, we saw each other a few times at church after Sunday Mass and at the one fish fry I attended.  Ruthie and Bill were so much fun that even our good buddies, Mary Ellen (pictured here) and hubby, Steve— both part of our dinner group on the cruise— enjoyed their company, too.

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They made such a lasting impression that Steven wished Ruthie and Bill were locals instead of winter Texans here only January and February.

So, of course, when they returned this year, we could hardly wait to spend time with them again.

We invited them to join us on our TTT outing, which we were pretty sure they’d enjoy; and we followed up with dinner here at home.

Ruthie’s Crown

Ruthie21211Before Ruthie and Bill arrived I had enough time to bead her Franciscan Crown and put together a booklet with the stories and the prayers.

The Crown was blue but had white instead of beige, which Ruthie said was “close enough.  I like white, too.”

Then Ruthie told me that she loves to praise God, especially during her walks on the beach.  She’s never had to think twice about “going straight to him,” no matter what’s on her mind.  Ruthie knows she can always count on God’s guidance and love, so she’s never cultivated a relationship with the Blessed Mother.

I used to be pretty much the same way.

“Growing up we’d take flowers to Mary during the month of May, and we said the rosary once in a while.  Then, during my doctoral studies, I took to praying the rosary at bedtime.  Still, I wasn’t particularly devoted to Mary; but it all changed after I broke my kneecap.  That’s when I asked God to give me a different way to pray the rosary since I dreaded Tuesdays and Fridays.  The sorrowful mysteries made me very sad.”

“Couldn’t you just skip them?” Ruthie asked.

“Well, no.  I didn’t feel right doing that, so I prayed them anyway.  Until I discovered the Franciscan Crown.”

“I haven’t ever been into saying all those prayers,” Ruthie added.

“But that’s the beauty of the Franciscan Crown.  You only pray Our Father‘s and Hail Mary‘s.  There aren’t any extra prayers as with the traditional rosary.  It’s so simple to say that it only takes seventeen minutes.”

“But why are there so many repeated prayers?  I get lost after a while, and then I start thinking about all these other things that have nothing to do with prayer.”

“I’d never thought of it that way.  I’ve just never questioned repeated prayers,” I said, knowing I’d be looking online to find some answers.  “But it’s okay to go off on tangents.  Think of it as your way of sharing what’s on your mind with the Blessed Mother.  I’m pretty sure she understands.”

I had lots to tell Ruthie about the Franciscan Crown, but we still had the blogs and her Yahoo email account to talk about.  And dinner was almost ready.  Besides, I’d included everything she needed to know in the little booklet I’d bound for her; and she could always email me.

Comments welcome

Ruthie emailed three days later.

I actually was able to meditate and pray two decades on my Crown the other night waiting for sleep.  Deli, please help me understand how this repetition is honoring Mary.  I feel I am just saying words without meaning compared with my running dialogues with Jesus… praising him, thanking him, sharing my most inner thoughts, cares, worries (just as we do with each other).  HELP!!

Ruthie’s three questions

I’d been so focused on catching up with my blog posts that I hadn’t yet completed my online search on repeated prayers, so I immediately got to work on finding answers to Ruthie’s queries: Why pray to Mary?  Why pray ten Hail Mary’s with each rosary decade?  What about distractions?

Answers gleaned— or not

(This part of my post was last readdressed March 23, 2016.)

Question three took four years to ruminate.  Based on personal practice, I replaced my original response (based on online searches) with what has come to work for me.

Through persistence and experimentation with daily prayer I’ve discovered, finally, a very special proactive engagement, mind, body, heart, and soul, that makes me smile with anticipation.

SAC41716-69Sooo…  Set goals and objectives.  Establish a routine, but don’t feel badly when it’s derailed.  Focus on specific prayers, such as those you’ve come to love and enjoy.  And do mix and match here and there when you come across new (old) prayers in your daily readings and/or thoughtful friends suggest some.

I start with a simple prayer of thanksgiving and praise in the morning.  I ask the Holy Infant to bless children past, present, and future, especially those most in need of his tender loving care.  I offer my day for my grandchildren and for those most in need of God’s blessings.  Throughout the day I also dialogue with the Blessed Mother and the angels and saints; visit with friends and family mentally; and set aside three special times— morning, noon, and evening— to bless the Infant for my day and spend quality time with him in prayer.  But what I look forward to most is my regular exercise period on the treadmill and/or the air bike, as this is my true alone time to focus on favorite devotions that help me build community within God’s kingdom.

Questions one and two I still haven’t gotten around to.  Since the day that Ruthie asked her questions, I’ve checked a lot of sources and have found nothing that truly suits me.

What I’d included here previously was okay but laughable not because the information didn’t make sense, but because the sources weren’t all that scholarly.  Hmm.  Make that at all scholarly.

Don’t get me wrong.  The information gleaned at the time made perfect sense, but the sources weren’t what I would’ve preferred.  So, shame on me for quoting and citing what was available at the time.  But maybe I thought no one would read my post?!!  What I recall is having searched ad nauseum to little avail.  And does it help to know that— mea culpa, mea culpa— I’ve revisited this post way too many times to mention since February 25, 2011, only to ponder the topic further?

Regardless, today is not the day I’m staying up all night reworking responses; so Ruthie’s first two questions will remain pending until I find (read) enough reliable sources that I can paraphrase and/or quote and cite.

Of course, I could add my thoughts alone.  That’s what I did with the third question last year, but This Inquiring Mind wants to know if answers from valid sources exist because, based on what I read earlier, nothing addresses the questions.  Or maybe I haven’t looked enough— or in the right places?

Suffice it to say that some of us Catholics take on devotions just because and don’t ask why.  Others want to know why and have the right to expect answers.  I, personally, have no qualms about repeated prayers.  Maybe it’s something I grew up with?  Maybe it’s an acquired practice?  Maybe the familiarity is soothing?  Does anyone really know?  Has anyone done research in the field?

I have my devotions and that’s that.  But God created us uniquely.  We are not Stepford Catholics.  And, if we are to embrace devotions, then they need to be appealing, or they’ll either fall by the wayside or not be enjoyed at all.  That would be a shame, considering the many beautiful devotions waiting for a chance to grow on us, as in, “adopt me today!”

This has nothing to do with faith, though!  Or the lack of it, please! 

Prayer is a personal preference, just as some folks enjoy dialoguing with Jesus while others go directly to God.  Or to Mary.  Or to the saints.  “Remember that faith is a gift and a disposition, not a set of rules and tasks that one must accomplish” (the Word among us, August 2008, p. 18).

Anyway, my pea brain is already working at lightning speed ruminating morsels here and there, so we’ll see what I come up with— eventually— so please don’t hold your breath, as I may be a while!  In the meantime, one question answered out of three ain’t bad, right?!!  Thank goodness for a sense of humor and the fact that I don’t purport to “know it all.”

Prayerful thoughts

Thankfully, St. Anthony’s thoughts on prayer came to mind as I pondered Ruthie’s questions and my online reading.

The Lord manifests himself to those who pause while in peace and humility of heart….  God, in order to be able to speak to the soul and fill it with the knowledge of his love, leads it to the solitude, detaching it from preoccupations of earthly things.  He speaks to the ears of those who are silent and makes them hear his secrets (St. Anthony of Padua, 1195-1231).

No doubt, Ruthie had engaged God in lots of conversation while waiting for my response so, after much reflecting, I was ready to share.

Personalized prayer

Thank you, Ruthie, for your perspective.  If you hadn’t shared your thoughts, I never would’ve wondered about repeated prayers, much less looked for enlightenment. 

I agree with you on the personalized prayer.  God has your listening ear, and you have his.  I feel the same way, even though I keep company with the Infant throughout the day.  And St. Anthony and St. Jude and—  God did give us our intercessors, so I visit with many.  Moreover, that you’re a sponge absorbing new ideas in your prayer life says that you’re open to endless possibilities.

The way I see it, God is so diversified and so totally awesome that he loves for us to surprise him.  I think he laughs himself silly when we challenge ourselves to change.  I also think that he’s tickled pink when we look for ways to please him, don’t you?

Repeated prayers

Finally, the Franciscan Crown has special meaning for me.  My broken kneecap led to my daily walks on the beach, which led to keeping company with my traditional rosary, which led to my posed question, which led to change, which led to a meaningful relationship with the Blessed Mother.

Walking the beach day after day I became acutely aware of God’s presence, too.  I sensed his loving gaze as he listened in on our conversations; encouraged our interactions; grew our devotion to one another; and guided us to our sacred space, our very special time together.  

Moreover, I discovered, thanks to my Franciscan Crown, that repeated prayers calm the waves in my otherwise stormy sea.

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Prayer to Our Lady of Fatima

O Most Holy Virgin Mary, queen of the most holy rosary, you were pleased to appear to the children of Fatima and reveal a glorious message.  We implore you, inspire in our hearts a fervent love for the recitation of the rosary.  By meditating on the mysteries of the redemption that are recalled therein may we obtain the graces and virtues that we ask through the merits of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Redeemer.  Amen.

November 14, 2011

The lovely Ning shared this related morsel from “Dear Padre” (Hamrogue, 2011).

Don’t be discouraged if your thoughts wander all over the place.  That’s part of the secret of the rosary: It opens your deeper self to you and to God.  The important thing is to want to pray, to walk with Mary, to honor and love Jesus.

Be faithful.  Keep praying.  It’s shaping you and guiding you even when what you feel is nothing and what you think is anything and everything.

April 3, 2014

We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit (Aristotle).

February 20, 2015

“Recite your rosary with faith, with humility, with confidence, and with perseverance”
(St. Louis de Montfort).

May 10, 2015

Humility is to the various virtues what the chain is in a rosary.  Take away the chain and the beads are scattered; remove humility, and all virtues vanish (St. John Vianney).

December 5, 2015

“When you see the storm coming, if you seek safety in that firm refuge which is Mary, there will be no danger of your wavering or going down” (St. Josemaría Escrivá).

December 8, 2015

“As sailors are guided by a star to the port, so are Christians guided to heaven by Mary” (St. Thomas Aquinas).

March 15, 2016

To swim with the tide in this case is cowardice, since we have to fight and swim against the tide of this ocean.  Whomever wants to shine the light upon the road for this century must ignite his torch in the light of revelation
(St. Clement Maria Hofbauer).

May 10, 2016

“My greatest pleasure is to go there [the cemetery] to say my beads and meditate on that unending happiness which so many of them are already enjoying” (St. Damien of Molokai).

May 25, 2016

“All the ways of this world are as fickle and unstable as a sudden storm at sea”
(St. Venerable Bede).

May 30, 2016

Our day begins with prayer and ends with prayer.  Some days, we pray mindfully and other days our minds may be far away even as we are praying.  When I cannot focus during prayer, I have to bring myself back to what I want to do, which is to pray.  No one’s prayer will ever be perfect; however, God does not want perfection.  He simply wants some of our time and attention.  Surely all of us can give this gift every day! (Monday Message by Sister Kristine Anne Harpenau, OSB: “The number of psalms to be sung at these hours – RB 17″).

May 31, 2016

Let the name of Mary be ever on your lips; let it be indelibly engraven on your heart.  If you are under her protection, you have nothing to fear; if she is propitious, you will arrive at the port of salvation (St. Bernard).

August 1, 2016

The heart of man will never find true peace if it does not empty itself of all that is not God.  But this the soul cannot do of itself; it must obtain it of God by repeated prayers (St. Alphonsus Liguori).

August 2, 2016

In order to succeed in prayer, it should be done when we first awaken, when our whole being is calm and recollected.  We need to make our meditation before anything else (St. Peter Julian Eymard).

August 31, 2016

You wish to have a devout and peaceful spirit, which is not a small thing to wish for.  The virtue of devotion is nothing other than a general inclination and readiness of the spirit to do what is pleasing to God (St. Francis de Sales in Roses Among Thorns).

September 8, 2016

“Storms make trees take deeper roots” (Dolly Parton).

September 9, 2016

Ask not for an easy life.  [Rather,] ask for the strength to face the elements; to weather the storms; to be the might for the right and the weak; to be the voice for those who cannot speak; to see one’s dreams to fruition with dignity, integrity, and grace (Giac Nguyen).

September 26, 2016

Prayer is the most effective communication with God and the saints.  Prayer strengthens us, gives us resolve, and helps us to carry our daily crosses
(Fr. Amador Garza, Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle).

January 13, 2017

There is no space where God is not; space does not exist apart from him.  He is in heaven, in hell, beyond the seas; dwelling in all things and enveloping all.  Thus he embraces, and is embraced by, the universe, confined to no part of it but pervading all (St. Hilary).

January 24, 2017

“We shall steer safely through every storm as long as our heart is right, our intention fervent, our courage steadfast, and our trust fixed on God” (St. Francis de Sales).

February 24, 2017

“In the face of so many wounds that hurt us and could harden our hearts, we are called to dive into the sea of prayer, which is the sea of God’s boundless love, to taste his tenderness” (Diane M. Houdek in The Hope of Lent).

March 28, 2017

“The storms that are raging around you will turn out to be for God’s glory, your own merit, and the good of many souls” (St. Pio of Pietrelcina).

April 10, 2017

“We do not become perfect by the multiplication of exercises, penances, and austerities, but rather by the purity of love with which we do them” (St. Francis de Sales).

May 6, 2017

By the divine pleasure of the Father, Mary invites us to enter into the mysteries of faith presented to us through the holy rosary and to receive the graces they offer.  As we are transformed more and more by their power and light, we can come to “the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13).  And we can battle against the powers of darkness to bring this, our day and time, into the victory of the cross (Johnnette S. Benkovic and Thomas K. Sullivan in The Rosary: Your Weapon for Spiritual Warfare).

May 18, 2017

If God asks you to walk on the turbulent waters of adversity, do not doubt, do not fear, because God is with you.  Have courage and you will be safe
(St. Francis de Sales).

June 2, 2017

When you look into muddy or choppy water, you will not see your face reflected.  If you want the face of Christ who looks on you to be reflected within you, come away from the disturbance of exterior things and let your soul be at peace (St. Anthony of Padua).

June 5, 2017

The Church is like a great ship being pounded by the waves of life’s different stresses.  Our duty is not to abandon ship, but to keep her on her course
(St. Boniface).

June 29, 2017

Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass.  It’s about learning how to dance in the rain (Vivian Greene).

July 3, 2017

In an intimate, personal relationship, two people may repeat to each other certain expressions of love and each time the words express the heartfelt affection they have for one another.  Repetition is part of the language of love. 

In reciting the Hail Mary throughout the rosary, we participate over and over again the wonder-filled response of Gabriel and Elizabeth to the mystery of Christ.  The name of Jesus, spoken with tender love, becomes the heartbeat of the the rosary (Edward Sri in Praying the Rosary Like Never Before).

July 6, 2017

O, Mary, my mother, be my refuge and my shelter.  Give me peace in the storm.  I am tired on the journey.  Let me rest in you.  Shelter and protect me (St. Bernadette Soubirous).

July 11, 2017

We must not gauge our devotion by what we feel but, rather, by what we are ready to endure.  Indeed, it often happens that God tries the most advanced by letting them experience a coldness and deadness in prayer such as ordinary people seldom experience and none could endure in such times if their love for God were not very deep and strong, ruling and sustaining the will (Fr. Basil W. Maturin in Spiritual Guidelines for Souls Seeking God).

August 20, 2017

May we all find creative ways to incorporate prayer in our homes— whether that means praying one decade of a rosary each evening or reading a psalm together every morning.  May we make it a point to express our love and appreciation to each other with our words and [our] warm embraces.

It doesn’t take much to make our homes into houses of prayer.  It just takes a willing heart and an opening to God’s blessing.  Even if we make mistakes along the way, we can be sure that we will make progress (the Word among us, July/August 2017, p. 72).

October 5, 2017

The rosary is a very old devotion which has exercised an immeasurable influence.  It is, above all, dear to pious people and belongs to their lives like the work they do and the bread they eat (Romano Guardini in The Rosary of Our Lady).

October 19, 2017

What would you think of a father who took his daughter’s scribbled picture, tore it up, and told her not to draw again until she got it exactly right?  No good father would do that!

God looks at us the way a good dad looks at his son or daughter.  When it comes to prayer, our heavenly Father sees our hearts, our sincere desires to pray well, not just our final products in prayer.  So even if our praying of the rosary ends up being just a bunch of scribbles, we should remember that God can write straight with our crooked lines.  He can delight in our good intentions, our sincere desires to please him in prayer, even if our minds go someplace else.  Having a good intention is more important than maintaining perfect attention throughout prayer (Edward Sri in Praying the Rosary Like Never Before: Encounter the Wonder of Heaven and Earth).

July 12, 2018

I think there is a special place in purgatory for the person that originated the notion that some places count more than others do.  Did this individual ever consider what this implies about the God who longs for us?  Imagine God saying, “I’m not listening, Gary, because you are on the treadmill.”  That is certainly not the God of Jesus Christ.  The Father always hears us, whenever and wherever we cry out to him (Fr. Gary Caster in Prayer Everywhere: The Spiritual Life Made Simple).

January 14, 2019

“I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning to sail my ship” (Louisa May Alcott).

March 19, 2020

“Even in a world that’s being shipwrecked, remain brave and strong” (St. Hildegard of Bingen).


Gulf of Mexico: Heading to Galveston, TX from Cozumel


Marker 42 – Port Aransas, TX


Links of interest…  Beads & the repetition of the rosary…  Cardinal Tobin’s real-life approach to faith…  Does Mary hear our prayers like God…  Drawing a bead on Mary…  Everyone experiences God…  Faith: A matter of the heart or head…  Five ways to improve your prayer life…  God is Inviting You (blog: Sister Kristine Anne Harpenau, OSB)…  Help in the stormy seas of life…  How long does it take to say the rosary / saints overcame distraction during prayerto deal with distractions during prayerwe react to the storms in our lives…  Mary as my refuge / teaches us to alleviate the suffering of others…  Perseverance is the key to overcome distractions in prayer…  Prayer is not an emptying of the mind / learning processtakes practice: five ways to improve…  Rosary: 10 ways to not hate25 things to know / about / center / crown of roses / foundation / holy / joyful brevity / psalter / Q&A / secret / seemingly endlessly repeated prayer / seven joys (Franciscanmeditations & reflections) & sorrows / spiritual sword of Maryten reasons to pray / traditional prayers (more) / virtual / wonders…  Seven keys to praying without ceasing…  Simplicity in devotion…  St. Mary de Cerevellon…  St. Paul & distractions in prayer…  To Jesus through Mary…  TX Tropical Trail…  Want to know what God wants from you?  Try total immersion…  What to do when you’re distracted while praying…  When Jesus doesn’t calm the storm / life feels like a raging storm… Why Catholics play dumb / rosary is not “vain repetition”…  Women bloggers spark an evangelical “crisis of authority”

WP posts…  Bearing one’s crosses…  Faces of Mary…  Faith and prayer…  Making meaning…  Mary’s miraculous medal…  Mary’s seven joys…  May flowers…  My Franciscan Crown…  One prayer…  Our Lady…  Repeated prayers…  Sorrowful redemption…  Vattmann church…  Vattmann Thanksgiving…  Verbosity

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