This is the first of three parts of a special ECM Series of the Riches of Catholic Prayer.

See Part 2 and Part 3 here.

What is “Catholic” prayer?

Prayer is speaking with God

The Holy Catholic Church continues to teach that true Christian prayer is “speaking with God” (CCC 2769) through which a man who has a deep desire to actually speak with God (CCC 2700) can “hear God speaking” (CCC 1777) when he practices vocal prayer (CCC 2701-2704).

“Catholic” prayer seeks to pray in union with the Liturgy of the Church

The word “liturgy” comes from a Greek word which means “public works.” Christ’s Holy Catholic Church defines the word “liturgy” as “the participation of the People of God in the ‘work of God’” (CCC 1069) which includes “the celebration of divine worship…proclamation of the Gospel…and active charity” (CCC 1070).

“Catholic” prayer includes Divine Liturgy and Popular Devotion

“Catholic” prayer includes participating in the regular celebration of the Sacraments in the Divine Liturgy, as well as praying with saints across the ages and fellow Catholics through popular devotions which have been passed down through the Age of the Church: basic prayers include (e.g. Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be, etc.), the Rosary, Litanies, Stations of the Cross, the Creed, Novenas, prayers for special needs (for the sick and dying, suffering, priests, for the Church, etc.), Consecrations, etc.

It is important to understand that “the liturgy is the center of the life of the Church [and] popular devotions should never be portrayed as equal to the liturgy, nor can they adequately substitute for the liturgy. [And]  “the liturgy and popular piety are two forms of worship which are in mutual and fruitful relationship with each other. Personal and family prayer and devotions should flow from and lead to a fuller participation in the liturgy.”

Praying in union with the Church provides many blessings

The worship of God in the Liturgy of the Church is the primary and necessary way for a Catholic man to give God thanks.  A man receives “divine life” through the participation in the liturgical life of the Eucharistic sacrifice and the sacraments (CCC 1131) and his “redemption is accomplished (CCC 1068).

By praying with the Liturgy of the Church, a man is strengthened and supernaturally united to Christ, faithful Catholics around the world and with the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Joseph and all the Saints and Angels in Heaven (CCC 1088-1090). Through this liturgical communion, a man lives a devout Catholic life which forms him, allows him to receive the Gifts of the Holy Spirit and helps him grow in happiness.

What are some of the riches of Catholic prayer for days, weeks, and seasons?

The “public work” (e.g. Liturgy) of the divine worship of God can be understood as setting aside time (daily, weekly, monthly, seasonally, annually) to join in the prayer of Christ’s Holy Catholic Church:

Daily

There are several ways a man can participate in the daily divine worship with the Church:

Daily Mass – The Church offers the Sacrament of the Eucharist every day and encourages those who can attend daily Mass; while some are not ready or able to make this commitment, all are called to participate in praying with the Mass. This can be done by meditating (Lectio Divina) upon the daily readings from the Mass.

Special prayers for days of the week – The Church suggests that the faithful offer special prayers each day of the week: Sunday: The Holy Trinity, Monday: The Holy Spirit, Tuesday: The Holy Angels, Wednesday: St. Joseph, Thursday: The Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist, Friday: The Passion of our Lord,  Saturday: The Blessed Virgin Mary.

Liturgy of the HoursThe Liturgy of the Hours (also called The Divine Office) is an imitation of how Jesus and the Apostles prayed at different times during the day and in response to the exhortation to “pray constantly” (1 Thes 5:17). The Liturgy of the Hours is a form of prayer approved by the Church (CCC 1174-1177) with prayers and readings selected for various “hours” during the day (Morning, Mid-morning, Mid-day, Mid-afternoon, Evening and Night).  Here is a general instruction on the Liturgy of the Hours. Here is a website which provides the daily prayers for the Liturgy of the Hours.

There are approved books/apps for praying the full Liturgy of the Hours or shorter versions which are modified for the laity (Shorter Christian Prayer, Christian Prayer). As a substitute, some pray the Magnificat, a publication which includes morning and evening prayers and the readings from the Mass.

Rosary – As an alternative for praying the Liturgy of the Hours for the laity (CCC 2678), the Rosary is a prayer which unites the Church by meditating upon the mysteries of the Life of Jesus Christ and honoring His Blessed Mother, the Mother of the Church. The faithful are encouraged (CCC 1674) to pray the Rosary daily/frequently and to practice praying a family Rosary. Here is a guide to the Rosary and meditations for each mystery of the Rosary for men.

Special Prayers for specific hours – Many Catholics follow pious practices which may include praying the Angelus (6 am, noon, 6 pm) and the Divine Mercy (3 pm).

Weekly

The weekly participation of divine worship is centered on drawing closer to Jesus in the Sunday Mass and Adoration (See also Habit 5) and keeping the Sabbath:

Sunday Mass – Drawing closer to Jesus in divine worship in the Sacrament of the Eucharist at the Sunday Mass and other feast days is both an obligation (CCC 2180-2183, 2192) and a joy and blessing (CCC 1166-1167). The Eucharist is the source and summit of the faith (CCC 1324-1327) which is the preeminent liturgical celebration of the Church (CCC 1345-1390) which blesses a man with the many blessings and fruits of Holy Communion (CCC 1391-1401) and is a foretaste of the life of eternal happiness with God in Heaven (CCC 1402-1405). Here is a guide to the Mass for men.

Keeping the SabbathThe 3rd Commandment requires a man to set aside Sunday and keep it holy (CCC 2168-2173) by refraining from unnecessary work (CCC 2184-2188). By setting aside Sunday and focusing on resting and growing in holiness, a Catholic man participates in the public work of God, both individually and as a witness to others.

Adoration – To extend worship of Christ beyond the Sunday Mass, men are called to the “work” of spending time (a holy hour)in adoration of Jesus Christ in the Tabernacle or in an Adoration Chapel at his parish; visiting the Blessed Sacrament  is “a proof of gratitude, an expression of love and a duty of adoration toward Christ our Lord” (CCC 1418) and further sanctifies the hours of a man’s life.  Here is a guide to Adoration for men.

Monthly

Receiving the Sacrament of Penance at least once and month and praying monthly intentions with the Church are important parts of the Liturgy of the Church:

Sacrament of Penance – Covered more fully in Habit 4, it is a precept of the Church to receive the Sacrament of Penance at least once per year (CCC 2042); given the frequency of sins by both commission (sinful acts taken) and especially omission (holy acts not taken), men should strive to receive the Sacrament of Penance monthly, or even more frequently if needed. Here is a guide to the Sacrament of Penance for men.

Prayers for each month – The Church urges each man to join in the public work of prayer through specific monthly intentions: January – The Holy Name and Childhood of Jesus, February – The Holy Family, March – St. Joseph, April – The Holy Eucharist, May – Our Lady the Blessed Virgin Mary, June – The Sacred Heart of Jesus, July – The Most Precious Blood of Jesus, August – The Immaculate Heart of Mary, September – Our Lady of Sorrows, October – The Most Holy Rosary (and Holy Angels), November – The Poor Souls in Purgatory, December – The Immaculate Conception.

Monthly Intentions of the Pope – The Pope also calls the faithful to pray in communion with His Holiness’ monthly intentions; these intentions are month-specific and are  available online.

Seasonally

The Church follows a published Liturgical calendar of seasons in which she fervently calls men to participate, including Advent, Christmas, Lent, Holy Week and Easter (CCC 1168-1171). See the USCCB for examples of seasonal prayers.

Annually

The Church calls men to participate in the Liturgy “by keeping the memorials of the saints—first of all the holy Mother of God, then the apostles, the martyrs, and other saints—on fixed days of the liturgical year” (CCC 1195). Men may participate by attending Mass on special feast days or remembering to offer prayers for the intercession of Saints on their feast days. Here is a Calendar of Saints for every day of the year.

See Part 2 and Part 3 here.