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Prayers Introduction, part 2

Morning Prayers

Midday Prayers

Novena Prayers

Table Prayers

Prayers at Domestic Meetings

Evening Prayers

Night Prayers

Prayers for the Renewal of Life

Solemn Renewal of Vows

Prayers for Canonical Visitation

Service for the Installation of Provincial and Local Sup

Suffrages for the Deceased


[Continued from Part 1 of the Introduction.]

As the "public worship which our Redeemer as Head of the Church renders to the Father, as well as the worship which the community of the faithful renders to its Founder, and through him to the heavenly Father" (16), liturgical prayer must be considered the model for all other prayer. Our Rule places great stress on this form of prayer (17). And this manual suggests the use of the Church's own prayer for the various periods of common prayer: Lauds could very well serve as the community's morning prayer, a Little Hour as its midday prayer, Vespers for its evening prayer, and Compline as its night prayer. In addition, Mass should be a community event, and, as Statute 032 states, concelebrated or offered with community participation.

Care must be taken, however, lest prayer become a mere formality and seen only as words used to fill up time. Prayer must become interiorized; it must become part of each of use. And in order to allow for time to think of what is being said, the prayers must be said slowly and intermingled with periods of silence and reflection. In a way, the prayers must achieve a sense of newness, a form of spontaneity. Otherwise, it might be said: "This people. . . honors me with their lips alone, though their hearts are far from me" (Is. 29:13).

In order to further aid the sense of newness, this manual presents in most instances a variety of form and format. There are, for example, six different choices for midday prayer and seven for evening prayer. And although there is only one format for the solemn renewal of vows, there is a wide range of texts from which to choose in developing the service. In this way, the manual seeks to follow the methods of the latest liturgical books published by the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship. Each community is free to choose from among the options given and, if necessary, to adapt them to its own needs and circumstances.

This manual gives examples of Bible Services in Appendix III. While they are meant to serve as examples, they may also be used as they are adapted by individual communities. Appendix V gives material for Christian Wakes, since in many dioceses there are no established formats and the new funeral liturgy mentions such a service only briefly.

With the realization that the Spirit bestows his gifts as he will, the manual makes mention in several places of spontaneous prayer. This, we think, must be understood properly. It should not develop into a purely subjective emotionalism, centered on the self. Nor should it be a contest in which the members vie for the nicest turn of phrase or the model prayer. Rather, it must be directed toward, and enhance one's love for God. Although such prayer is an outpouring of the heart, this does not mean that spontaneous prayer need not be thought out beforehand. Just the opposite seems to be true, in order to prevent the period of prayer from developing into trying experience for all. It is strongly recommended, therefore, that when spontaneous prayer is employed all involved come to the prayer period fully prepared, having thought over a theme or something similar beforehand.

Finally, in those instances in which the community is called on to develop its own service, they should remember that, rather than to overload the service with many words, it is good to leave times for song, if possible, and for silence. In the Bible Services, for example, song is appropriate at the beginning and end of the service as well as after the readings or homily. The practice of having the community merely read some selection as a response is inadequate unless it can be heightened in some way by poetry, or by alternation between a single spokesman and the community, or between alternating sides as in the Office. The response must no appear to be another reading. Still less should the response by read solely by the man who has just done the reading; it should be done, preferably, by someone in the community, if not by the whole community, because while the reading is directed from the sanctuary to the congregation, the response arises out of the congregation and is directed back toward the source of the reading. Moreover, much of the effect of Scripture reading is lost if time is not allowed for meditation on the message. A short minute or two between the reading and the response would suffice. The ideal solution would be to combine the silence with the song. For example, if psalms are used, a subdued organ, a quiet-plucking guitar, or something similar, could accompany the recitation and allow for a three or four-measure interlude between verses - the music being very simple and subdued to enhance the silence that precedes and follows the singing of a verse or two of the psalm or hymn.

May Our Mother of Perpetual Help and St. Alphonsus bless this endeavor and aid us in becoming truly men of prayer!


1Alphonsus Liguori, Saint, Great Means of Salvation and of Perfection, Vol. III: Complete Works of Saint Alphonsus de Liguori, ed. by Eugene Grimm, C.SS.R. (Brooklyn, N.Y.: Redemptorist Fathers 1927), p. 49.
2Statute 033.
3Constitution 29.
4Constitution 71.
5Constitution 23.
6Statute 035.
7Statute 032.
8Cf. Constitution 9.
9Cf. Constitution 70.
10Cf. Statute 029.
11Mediator Dei, n. 14.
12Constitution 28.
13Statute 032.
14Albert Schlitzer, C.S.C., The Prayer-life of the Church (Notre Dame, Ind.: The University of Notre Dame Press, 1962), pp. xiii-xiv.
15Cf. Constitution 46.
16Cf. Constitutions 12, 25, 27, 28, 29; Statute 032.
17Mediator Dei, n. 20.

*Used with the permission of the Redemptorists.

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Created on August 7, 2001.