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Prayer

Yesterday I read a beautiful piece from Global Sisters Report (GSR).  The theme of this feature piece is: ‘The Life: In prayer, sisters find the unconditional love of God’.

In it the panellists share a variety of approaches that help bring them into union with God.  […] But all approaches ultimately involve a personal encounter of love, a contemplative experience with the Divine.

‘The Life’ is a unique monthly feature by GSR where a panel of 25 Sisters share their reflections about the challenging and very specific lives of women religious around the world.   This is the second year of The Life feature. See About The Life Panelists

In the lead up to the anniversary of Nano Nagle’s death on 26th April (1784) I had been reading some material on Nano’s life and work, always trying to understand better who Nano is for us today, as Presentation people.  In each of her letters (that we are blessed to have preserved) there is mention of her genuine concern for a continuation of the ‘work of God’. Nano was a woman of faith and was both discerning and eminently practical who followed faithfully the call of the Spirit.  Prayer was a vital part of Nano Nagle’s life.

Often, one of  the main obstacles to making time for prayer can be the ever increasing pace of day to day life, and the challenges and demands this can place on us to meet immediate expectations. One cannot but be struck by the ‘fullness’ of life evident in these shared reflections.

You can read the full article HERE

Below are a few ‘taster’ extracts that are very powerful and helpful. The Sisters describe unique individual encounters with God as they responded to the question:

What is your favourite type of prayer? Why?

 

“Against all the odds and to my complete surprise, I think I am becoming a contemplative”.  Sr. Judith Anne Zielinski, a Franciscan Sister from Sylvania, Ohio.

“I am coming to understand contemplation not by its classical trappings which, I learned were for a “few special saints” special saints of rarefied holiness, but as a sense of powerful, divine intimacy; a growing surrender to that seduction; and a mindfulness that I am cherished, safe and chosen.  I didn’t earn this or work to achieve it.  Instead, I believe it is a grace that is emerging as I discover the joy of a coherent universe where I can surrender my ego-control and let God-be-God.  My prayer is quietly evolving into an awareness of God that rises to meet me as I move through my days”.

 

“My favourite prayer is Eucharistic adoration. I feel loved and accepted as I am with my brokenness and littleness.  Jesus invites me: “Come to me, all you who labour and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew: 11-28).  I find great consolation in these words.  As I kneel before the Blessed Sacrament, I am filled with great joy and gratitude for God’s unconditional love.  I rejoice and praise God with great joy. Sr. Mercy Shumbamhini, belongs to the Congregation of Jesus.

“Eucharistic adoration is an encounter, an exciting experience, as well as a challenging time for me. […] As I kneel before the Blessed Sacrament, I am moved and thrilled and am also challenged to follow Jesus’ way of life”.

 

“When I was 20 years old, if someone would have told me that one day I would dedicate my life entirely to praying and preaching in order to teach others how to do the same, I would have laughed.  I was certainly searching for happiness everywhere but in prayer”. – Sr. Adriana Haro Betancourt, Verbum Dei Mission Confraternity.    

“It’s already been more than 18 years since that first experience of prayer, and am still amazed when I realise what happens each time I open my heart , mind and body in prayer.  God, the almighty, the transcendent, bends down to reach me and whisper to my heart, his dreams, his passion, his concerns: all of this through his word. Thus, the prayer I like the most is precisely this heart-to-heart, mouth-to-mouth encounter with him through his word, which heals my wounds and  makes me an instrument for healing the woundedness of the world”.

 

To the question – “What is your favourite type of prayer?”  I can only answer: “Whatever prayer God is drawing me into at this particular moment”. – Sr. Marilyn Lacey, Sister of Mercy from California.

“Convent life introduced me to the Hebrew and Christian scriptures.  The God revealed there became the focus of my daily hour of contemplation.  Sitting or kneeling, allowing the Word to sink into me, I yearned to align my ways to  God’s ways.

Once I began active ministry, the people and pain and upheavals of life crowded into my prayer. I was no longer going to God alone.  That seemed right to me: holding up all of the messiness to be enfolded by God’s tender gaze while my own internal drive for perfection was being carved away to make room for compassion ”.

 

“It wasn’t until becoming a Mercy Sister myself that I was introduced to daily Scripture meditation.  After two experiences of the 30-day Ignatian Spiritual Exercises – once when I was 23, and again when I was 45 – I noticed my form of prayer changing slowly and deeply”. – Sr. Brenda Peddigrew, Mercy Sister from Newfoundland.

“Centering Prayer (two periods of 15-20 minutes each day) over many years opened me to the practice or presence and surrender.  […]  So what is my favourite way to pray now?  To bring my whole being into Presence, to open to the fullness of all  creation, to feel myself receiving from the manifestations of the Divine that surround me.  All of me, not just my mind, knows my heart as the doorway to this amazing gift, swinging inward and outward all at once”.

 

“I can say that at this point in my life, contemplative prayer speaks much to my heart.  Contemplative prayer is the sacred space where I meet my triune God hidden it the tabernacle if I am in a church sanctuary or when I am at home in the inner castle of my heart”.  – Sr. Marie Josee Seide, Daughter of Wisdom 

[…]

“In this sacred space, words have no  part, only the language of the heart , mine united with that of God, and all this happens under the tender gaze of the Blessed Mother, Daughter of the  Father, Mother of the Son and Beloved Spouse of the Holy  Spirit.  Contemplative Prayer is restorative and transforming for me”.

 

“From my novitiate onward, I used to find that the morning hour of prayer used to bore me to death.  […]  This sorry state of our prayer life motivated me to grab the opportunity to redesign the Canticle of Mary as the ‘Ode of the Theotokos’  (Luke 1: 46-55) for morning prayer, chanting it while performing the ‘sun salutation’. Gradually, I noticed an increase in the sisters’ energy levels,  as they consecrated the first stirrings of body, mind and heart to God: “I will pray to you Lord, you will hear my voice in the morning;  I will stand before you in the morning and gaze on you”. (Psalm 5: 4-5). – Sr. Margaret Gonsalves, Sister for Christian Community.

[…]  “May we all heed the invitation from Mary, to abandon control, dispense from worldly expectation, live freely, and enjoy the journey”.

 

See link to video of Sr. Fatima Rodrigo, pbvm sharing the content of ‘Praying Our Journey – A Resource for Prayer and Reflection’ that was prepared by  the Presentation Sisters Union – Nano Nagle Commission  for the Tercentenary year celebrations of  Nano’s birth in 2018.

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