After reading Melanie Bettinelli (of The Wine Dark Sea) ‘s answers on Thomas McDonald’s blog God and the Machine, I realized these “How I pray questions” are great questions to introduce new readers to their blogger. So I’m borrowing them for those new to the blog especially those who found me through facebook.
Who are you?
A wife and mother of three. I work part-time outside of the home so I consider myself a stay-at-home mom. I was born in New Jersey, but my father’s job brought us to NC (the Research Triangle Park) when I was four and I grew up in the Raleigh area and moved to the coast (where I live now) for college. I live in the land of few Catholics, but it was much fewer when I was a kid. Thanks to retirees from up north and the Hispanic population, Catholicism is on the rise in NC and so I don’t feel as much the oddity anymore! I have a very lucrative fine arts degree in Creative Writing, which I do on this blog. Sort of. 😉 I love music and sleep and prefer the radio to television. My oldest child was diagnosed at age 2 with autism spectrum disorder, so I am a passionate advocate for her and autism acceptance.
What is your vocation?
Primarily to please God as His child (I am a recovering people pleaser). My other vocations include wife to Jeff, mother to Shelby, Joseph and William, and sometimes-writer.
What is your prayer routine for an average day?
Since it is Lent, I have developed some new routines. I get up, almost every day before the sun and before my kids, which is key. Now my youngest is going to be six in May so there is a reason that is possible! I begin each day in Lauds (Morning Prayer) from the Divine Office. Right now I am also completing the 33 Days to Morning Glory Marian Consecrations, so I usually follow Lauds with the reflection for that day. Then start my Marian Prayers. Although I have not completed the retreat, I still say the four consecration prayers (Morning Glory, St Louis de Montfort, St Maximilian Kolbe, and Consoler Consecration to Mary). Then I say the Hail Mary, Sub Tum Praesidium (in English), The Memorare, Hail Holy Queen, Alma Redemptoris, Ave Maris Stella, Litany of Loreto, and two Fatima prayers. If I hit six AM in my routine, I offer an Angelus. Then I say the Rosary of the Seven Sorrows followed by the traditional Rosary in which I say that day’s Mysteries plus the Sorrowful Mysteries since we are in Lent (in Easter it’s Glorious, Ordinary Time it’s Luminous, Advent-Michaelmas Joyful). On Tuesdays and Fridays I say the entire 20 decades. Sometimes not all at once. I also try to fit in the Blessed is She Devotions and my daily devotion from Father Robert Barron in at this time. Each morning I also say with my boys Morning Offering, Guardian Angel prayer, Prayer to St Michael for protection, St Patrick’s Breastplate, Anima Christi, Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be and Apostles Creed (they both have difficulty in memorization, so that’s a lot of our prayer together). Later in the day I will say Matins (Office of Readings) from the Divine Office). If I’m not working I aim for the Divine Mercy Chaplet at 3 pm (although sometimes I fit it in elsewhere). In the evenings I say Vespers and I also try for the Compline at night. I am for at least one Angelus daily, sometimes even silently while at work (which I know defeats the purpose, but I work at a grocery store, so , there is that!). At night I say with the boys the Act of Contrition, Guardian Angel prayer, Now I Lay Me and we’re adding the Memorare and Hail Holy Queen (Joseph also likes the Glory Be, so we often add it in). I also enjoy praying my Rosaries in front of the Blessed Sacrament which I do online through an Irish parish that has a live webcam. I don’t always get all of this done, except the morning prayers, and some days even those slip past me, so I say a lot of “I’m sorry, I’ll do better” prayers. Moms of lots of littles and homeschooling moms, you do not have have my prayer routine (which I realize looks really, really over the top), when my littles were really little, I was lucky to remember to say grace before meals somedays! I know often my prayers were simply “Help!” and “Thanks!” in those more hectic days and I became very fond of the prayer of St Philip Neri: God, help me get through today and I will not fear tomorrow.
Do you have a devotion that is particularly important to you or effective?
I have come to love the Divine Office and praying the Psalms. After the election of Pope Francis and his installation, Cardinal Gracias of India revealed he was praying Psalms in between ballots and I just love how I can pray with the entire church this way. I’ve also become quite the Marian prayer person which surprises no one more than me. I’ve seen a true difference in my life this Lent as a result of my Marian prayers.
Do you have a place, habit, or way of praying?
There is no wrong way or place, I’ve learned! Any and everywhere! When I grew up, aside from grace, we rarely prayed as a family aside from grace before meals so I viewed prayer as a more solitary thing. I never learned the Rosary or Divine Office as a child, although my mother prayed them regularly (not a criticism, Mom and Dad!) but I was also a natural memorizer because I am an auditory learner so very young I knew the responses in Mass, the Nicene Creed, Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be. Some of the other prayers were harder to learn on my own later in life because I wasn’t “hearing them” as I was reading them. I do tend to pray “out loud” as a result. My boys are not auditory learners nor are they natural memorizers. Joseph is visual and William is kinesthetic so Joseph has either his Prayers by Heart from the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston or Amy Welborn’s The Word’s We Pray out (he uses Magnifikid during Mass). William usually has a Rosary in his hands to help him get through our prayers. Also, as a result of them not being great at memorization, we tend toward committing to memory the “basic” prayers.
Do you use any tools or sacramentals?
I use the iBreviary app on my laptop quite often. When our iPad worked I also used iRosary. And we use our books The Words We Pray by Amy Welborn and Prayers by Heart by the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston for the kids to read along.
What is your relationship with the Rosary?
Much more robust than it used to be! I find a lot of focus now in the repetition. Since I usually pray it in front of the Blessed Sacrament online, I’ve found myself offering it quite often for Navan Parish and the people there praying before the Blessed Sacrament. I used to only really “like” the Joyful Mysteries, but through the Rosary of the Seven Sorrows, I’ve come to embrace the Sorrowful ones and since my relationship with the Holy Spirit has grown so much in the past few years, the Glorious Mysteries became special as well. The Luminous Mysteries were hard for a very long time until I studied the Gospel of Matthew in BSF last year and now they are probably my favorite.
Are there any books or spiritual works that are important to your devotional life?
The Bible, the Breviary and Father Michael Gaitley’s 33 Days to Morning Glory are very important right now. Particularly the second readings in Matins in the Breviary. Immaculee Ilibigaza’s Our Lady of Kibeho is one of my favorites to go back to and it taught me about the Rosary of the Seven Sorrows. For may years I also used Amy Welborn’s A Catholic Woman’s Book of Days which is a short Bible verse, a brief reflection and a prayer.
What is your most recent spiritual or devotional reading?
Aside from Morning Glory (which I’m still in the midst of), I’m also re-reading Scott Hahn’s The Lamb’s Supper.
Are there saints or other figures who inspire your prayer life or act as patrons?
I love the saints. Right now I have extra-special devotion to my patron for 2015, St Peter. Also to my children’s patron saints, St Clare of Assisi, St Joseph, St Patrick, Blessed William of Ireland and St Christopher. Also, she is not canonized (yet!), but Courtney Lenaburg (the late beautiful daughter of Mary of Passionate Perseverance) I have special devotion to as without her Mary could not have been the amazing mentor she has been to me as the mother of a special needs daughter and I believe she is already looking out for my Shelby. I had a dream once, about 2 or 3 years ago, that we took Shelby to a doctor and the doctor walked in and it was Courtney. She WALKED and SPOKE in my dream and how I wish I could hear that voice again! I know I will someday! I believe Courtney is very busy in heaven right now interceding for so many of us! Oh, and St Raphael…I’ll get to that in a minute.
Have you had any unusual or even miraculous experiences as a result of your prayer life?
When I was pregnant with William, I was at one of my many ultrasounds (I have a genetic blood clotting disorder, so I am high risk during pregnancy). It happened to be on the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The doctor had me go back in for a second round because they believed William had a heart defect where one side of his heart was not growing properly and he had chorionic cysts on his brain. As I waited for an imaging room to open up, I begged Our Lady of Guadalupe to please intercede and let my son (I had just found out he was a boy) as I had come to this appointment alone and did not know how I would tell my husband something could be wrong. We went back in and the cysts were small (they were gone the following month), he opened and closed his fists and he had just been in a bad position to see his heart. He was fine. As I left the office that day, I heard something say, “You DID name him a “strong-willed, Christ-bearer” (the meanings of his name, William Christopher). And I knew then.
Also related to William and the above reference to St Raphael are recounted here. The irony of William having a deep desire to be a physician now is NOT lost on me.
I would like to see __________________ answer these questions.
Tracy of A Slice of Smith Life, Katherine of Having Left the Altar and Maurisa of Half a Dozen and More Productions (of course no one has to…just something fun to do)!
Thanks to Thomas McDonald for coming up with these great questions and hosting so many great bloggers.