Liturgical Prayer, Church Prayer
My canon law professor at the seminary came from the beautiful Mediterranean island of Sardinia. He only taught the introductory course to eight of us: and we were each from a different country except for my two Syrian classmates. Father Urru always started the lesson with a prayer in Italian which he recited very quickly. Since I only had this class on Friday mornings, I was catching more and more prayer over the weeks. Finally, I decided to be ready with my pen in hand to write the prayer as he offered it. The first attempt only got me halfway. The following Friday, I was able to get everything back. It was a beautiful prayer!
The weekend passed and on Monday morning I was in the seminary chapel half awake at 6:15 am for morning prayer. When the priest said the words of the Monday closing prayer, morning prayer, week 1, I couldn’t believe it. He prayed: Father, that everything we do begins with your inspiration and continues with your saving help. May our work always find its origin in you and through you.
It was there. Father Urru’s prayer in my own breviary – which is the book that contains scripture readings and prayers that every priest promises to pray when ordained a deacon. I had already recited Father Urru’s prayer in English every four weeks since I became a seminarian! I was a little disappointed that Father Urru had not composed the deep prayer himself, but he had done well to draw from the liturgical tradition of the Church a prayer to begin each class.
At the end of a funeral mass, it is not uncommon for one of the participants to approach me and say something like “Father, it was so beautiful” or “These are some of the most beautiful prayers I have ever made”. heard.” The prayers which commit the deceased into the merciful hands of God and implore the comfort of those who remain are among the most poignant of the Church. The liturgical prayer of the Church is deeply rooted in the meditation of Scripture Holy and in the lived experience of the Church through the centuries These prayers can often go in one ear and out the other, but there is much grace to be found in listening carefully, especially the prayer of opening or collection of the mass which is prayed just before the readings.
27e On Sunday in Ordinary Time, the Priest prays: “spread your mercy on us to forgive what conscience fears and to give what prayer dares not ask for”. I may not pray with these words when I sit quietly in prayer, but this prayer from the liturgy prompts my mind to consider the most difficult moments in life that the conscience dreads to remember, and what precisely these are. things I don’t ask for in prayer because I’m too afraid to ask.
Saint Teresa of Avila said of the most perfect prayer: “As we repeat the Our Father so many times…let us enjoy it. Jesus taught us the fullest prayer, from which every prayer we raise to God has its origin and inspiration. The prayer of the Church guides us throughout life by facilitating our conversations with God, so that our lives find a joyful outcome.
Image is property of the Diocese of Savannah. June 4, 2022, Cathedral Basilica of Saint John the Baptist.