Several weeks ago, I got into a conversation with a group of Catholic friends about some of the practices of the Catholic faith. I study religion, so I am already pretty familiar with the Catholic faith in a “textbook” sense, but I really enjoy talking to people who are adherents and learning about how they live out their faith every day.
One of the questions that I had was for converts to Catholicism from other forms of Christianity. Generally speaking, prayers to saints and devotion to Mary is looked down upon in mainstream Protestant Christianity and I wondered how converts to Catholicism from Christian denominations like Baptist or Charismatic Christianity were able to overcome the feelings of guilt that may have arisen when practicing a tradition that goes against what they had been taught from childhood. My friends responded, each with their own insights, and most of them sent links for me to read that further clarified the practice of praying to Mary and other saints.
I have been thinking a lot about prayer lately. As I wrote in my last post, my prayer style is a mixture of contemplative and extemporaneous and I have been looking for ways to enhance the contemplative aspect of my prayer. While on vacation a few weeks ago, I decided to get up early and pray the Rosary. I have a Rosary that a friend’s mother gave me nearly fifteen years ago, when I was a sophomore in high school. I downloaded a free Rosary app on my phone and woke up early to learn how to pray it.
The Rosary (as per the app) is made up of the Sign of the Cross, the Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, the Hail Mary, the Fatima Prayer, the Hail Holy Queen, and five “mysteries” of the day on which the one praying should meditate. I must admit that I felt a little silly praying the Rosary at first. It’s something I’d never done before and because I am not a Catholic, I felt like an imposter. But as I continued to pray, I started to think more deeply about my faith in Christ and about how certain situations in my life should be handled in light of my willing submission to Him. I also came away with a slightly new perspective on prayer. All in all, I would say that I came away with a deeper sense of connection to God and a renewed determination to live my life in a way that pleases Him.
Since the Rosary is kind of long, I’ll be splitting up my description of this experience into a few different posts. I’ll try not to take too long to post each successive entry, and I hope you’ll follow along and, through my experience, find some encouraging take-away of your own!
Until next time – have you ever tried a reciting prayer from a denomination or religion that was different from your own? I want to hear about it!