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heavenly reinforcements

July 23, 2010

I don’t consider myself a woman of great prayer, but it is definitely something I aspire to.  Since I have a long way to go, I try to practice as much as possible.  Being a somewhat anxious person means I get a lot of practice trying to take the Phil 4:6 approach: Dismiss all anxiety from your minds.  Present your needs to God in every form of prayer and in petitions of gratitude. I don’t use every form of prayer possible, but I try to use a variety to keep my prayer life interesting.

Every so often, I find myself preoccupied with an issue or concern that requires a little more prayer than the usual Hail Mary or the hurried but reverent plea for help.  That’s when I call for reinforcements.  I believe in the power of the Church Triumphant’s intercession and prayer, but I’m not superstitious about the saints.  I don’t bury statues or jump up and down on one foot while calling out for a saint’s protection*.  You can send me those chain emails about different saints saying that I have to forward the email to oh-so-many people within such amount of time for a miracle to occur or else something terrible might happen, but just know that I delete those with glee.  (Seriously people – saints have better things to do than check their inboxes… And that’s assuming heaven has wi-fi.)  I respect the saints too much to demean their holiness with such practices.

When it’s time for reinforcements, I use the time-honored and Church-approved tradition of praying novenas.  I realize people could see a novena as being similar to one of those ridiculous chain emails, but it is different.  A novena requires discipline, dedication and faith.  It is nine days of rigorous, concentrated prayer for a specific intention.  But that doesn’t mean “pray this for nine days and you’ll get what you want”.  The nine days of intense prayer helps me truly surrender to the Lord whatever issue is at hand.  At the end of the novena, I am more open to accepting God’s will, even if it isn’t the answer I was hoping for.

Novenas also help me to learn more about the saints, their lives, their spiritualities and the different ways they exemplified Christ, and I am continually inspired by them.  I am not praying to the saints by praying a novena; I am asking them to pray for me and with me, just as I ask my friends and family for prayers.  Like I said: reinforcements and heavenly reinforcements, at that.

This has been a month of novenas as I’ve had a lot weighing on my mind and heart.  I’ve called for backup several times and would like to honor those saints who graciously interceded for me at the feet of Christ:

St. Philomena

St. Joseph

Sts. Joan of Arc & Cecilia, my patron saints

The different novenas and devotions this month have certainly kept my prayer life interesting (Yes – three novenas in one month!).  I am ever so grateful to have men and women of great prayer willing to pray with me as I practice to become that which they are.

*Disclaimer: Ok, so there have been a few occasions when I was desperately trying to find a misplaced item and in my urgency was hopping from one foot to the other around the apartment while begging my two finders-of-lost-things, St. Anthony and Josh Gonder, to help locate whatever was missing.  Meanwhile, they were probably rolling on heaven’s floor at the spectacle that was me, and saying to each other, “If Cecilia stopped prancing about, stood still for one minute and opened her eyes, she would see that it’s right there! But if she did that, we’d have nothing to laugh about!”  That’s ok, dear saints in heaven.  Laugh at me all you want

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