Once upon at time, I was taught and believed that Catholics prayed "vain and repetitious prayers". Obviously they had to because they relied so much on written prayers - their entire liturgy (ok, maybe I didn't realize this much) was formed using set prayers for given occasions, they prayed the rosary (repeating the Hail Mary), many times they used personal prayer books with written prayers...oh my, how much more could they do?
At the same time, my prayer life was pretty pathetic. As a Protestant, one of my worst habits was my lack of a real, substantial prayer life. It wasn't because I didn't want to have one. I really did. I prayed in the morning, before meals, before bed, during Church services, etc. The real problem was that my prayers were vain and repetitious. I couldn't think of anything except the standard prayer and I would pray the same ones all the time! Even if I had a special intention, I'd just stick it obtusely into my form prayer.
Then I became Catholic. WHAM! It hit me up side the head like a 2X4. The prayers had so much depth, there were so many thousands of them, and they were all so beautiful when you paid attention to the words, focusing you on Christ. I realized that the very Catholic prayers that I thought were so vain actually turned out to kick me out of my own dry repetitious prayer. I especially think about this when I pray the Liturgy of the Hours.
Please Note: I am not taking up the doctrinal question of vain and repetitious here. Thus, I won't go into detail about how the Psalms were prayers of the Faithful, how songs that we sing are prayers, how scripture reading is a form of prayer, how Christ was specifically targeting a Pagan practice when he referred to Vain and Repetitious prayers, etc. All that is for another time I guess.
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