Thursday, August 14, 2014

Notes on Prayer List Management

Catholics pray. Catholics pray like fish swim. Like how birds fly, and oceans wave, and kittens like a ball of string, Catholics pray.

We pray as that is our job. The Lord told us to pray, and often. The apostles - quite intelligently, I think - asked him how to pray, and he told them. He gave us the Lord's prayer. He did that, and he prayed, and often. He prayed when things were good and when things were not so good. He prayed for understanding. He prayed to heal others.

So, we pray too, and in all kinds of ways. A practice I have worked toward is the prayer list. This is a list of people - individuals or groups - that one prays for. Like many Catholics, I keep my list with me. Before every Mass, I write down the names on my list in the book of intentions. This book is presented in preparation of the Eucharistic celebration along with the offerings of donations, the bread, and the wine. The book of intentions is handed to the deacon or priest, who hands it to a cup minister, who places it on the altar. The altar is the table of the Eucharist. It is the altar of the Lord.

As the priest calls forth the Holy Spirit to bless the body and blood, as he recites the prayers of the offering, he does so over the open book of intentions, where people like me have written the names of those we pray for.

I write all this out for a couple reasons, one of which is, I hope all Catholics would take the time to enter the names of those they pray for into the book of intentions. I suppose that is not really a reason, is it. It's more of a wish.

The other reason, which is a reason, is to note a few points of practice. As I said, I have "worked" toward a prayer list. I used to write in simply my family and the souls in purgatory - or perhaps the name of someone I knew who was in difficulties. Praying for others has, I think, made me more aware of people's pain; whereas being Catholic and having seen how prayer works has prompted me to make better use of prayer.

This has led to some interesting and entertaining thoughts. The internal prompt to pray is surely guided by the Holy Spirit. So, when the other day a homeless man thanked me for the dollar I gave him, and introduced himself as Billy, I thought to myself, Well, Billy, you are going on my prayer list.

I mean to hint at the fact that my prayer list is growing. I'm not entirely certain how many people I can handle! But perhaps there are some guidelines, I guess, such as including at every Mass those under my care, and adding those, such as Billy, for three Masses.

Ah. Logistics intrude everywhere! It's all good, though. The Holy Spirit is a certain guide in the editing of prayer lists, as in all such matters.