This week, I listened to an interview on an SSPX (Society of St. Pius the X) YouTube channel: SSPX Ireland. The guest was Catholic Bishop Bernard Fellay. And he said several things that made an impression on me.
A New Perspective on Prayer
Historically, I tend to try to solve problems all my own and think of God and my prayer life as some sort of backup. But Bishop Fellay explained that it’s wrong to think that we can solve problems purely in the natural and that as children of God we shouldn’t be going to the natural first. We should be going to prayer.
If I believe that God is all powerful and all loving and all knowing – WHY I am trying to do things all on my own?
I had no good answer so I decided that it was time to strengthen my commitment to prayer.
It seemed that one of the best ways to do that was by learning more about how Catholics pray. So I began with a wonderful video on meditative prayer by Fr. Chad Ripperger.
Then I decided to create a firm space and time for praying.
A Place to Pray
I have a beautiful prayer space in the corner of what used to be our living room and is now sort of a study / library / YouTube studio. This is the room where I keep my desk and books and holy statues. It is where I record video and attend Zoom meetings and sit in my grandmother’s rocker and pray or read the Bible – rarely.
The reason I use this room rarely that getting there can be a challenge.
A year ago it was a challenge because my elderly dog, Bella, was mostly confined to our family room and I didn’t want to leave her alone while I worked. For the last six months it’s been a challenge because our new dog, Luna (a wild and crazy Border Collie) can’t be trusted around old plaster holy statues – and because she, like Bella, likes to hang out with me.
So I tried praying in my bedroom early in the morning while Luna dozed in her kennel – and found myself wanting to doze too. Don’t get me wrong – I did pray up there but it wasn’t what I would call quality prayer.
This week, as part of my renewed commitment to prayer, I decided to try something new. So I began praying in the family room where Luna can’t get into any serious trouble.
Praying in this new location means getting up just a little bit earlier in order to miss the morning rush but I don’t get sleepy at all. Probably because I take Luna out and have a cup of coffee before I settle down for prayer time.
Our family room is not a particularly beautiful or uplifting space. The furniture is old and there is a certain amount of clutter and a huge wall mounted flatscreen TV dominates the room. So I decided to make my immediate area a little nicer. In order to do this, I collected some of the books Fr. Ripperger recommends as an aid to meditation and stowed them under the coffee table.
It’s a small thing but it reminds me that this tiny area is dedicated space and I find that helpful. I also like having some of the books Fr. Ripperger recommended (the Holy Bible, True Devotion to Mary, The Way of Mental Prayer and the Traditional Sunday Missal (affiliate links) and of course my rosary) at hand as well.
While I pray, I play various Gregorian chants on the TV (via YouTube). The music is peaceful and the images are nice. We have a simple wooden cross above our TV and I find myself focusing on it from time to time. While I still have a lot to learn about prayer, I am doing better and I feel that, overall, the new space works.
Because of the chant (I think) Luna settles down and falls asleep. Because of the time outside and the coffee I’m more alert. Thanks to Bishop Fellay and Fr. Ripperger I’m beginning to get a basic understanding of Catholic prayer. And I like the idea of praying in a room that is at the center of our living space.
I will probably go back to the living room / studio / library at some point but for now this space is just what I need.
And I think that’s the point.
We all have challenges when it comes to prayer and we have to make adjustments from time to time to make our prayer life a priority. I’m glad that I’m finally doing that – and I’m glad that making this small change has inspired me to make the room that really is the center of our home a little bit nicer, too!
In my next YouTube video, I’m going to talk more about what I’m learning about prayer. But I wanted to share these pictures here, in the hope they might encourage someone else to make adjustments that might improve their prayer life – if or when that is needed.