The Depth & Beauty of “Rote” Prayer


I love the ending prayer of the Angelus:

Pour forth, we beseech thee, O Lord, thy grace into our hearts, that we, to whom the incarnation of Christ thy Son was made known by the message of an angel, may by his passion and cross be brought to the glory of his resurrection. Through the same Christ Our Lord. Amen.

In one sentence you have the following ideas:

God gives grace;
We can pray to Him;
He will give us this grace if we ask;
He became man;
He did this at a specific moment in history;
Angels exist;
He died;
The cross is meaningful;
He rose again;
He is now in a glorified body.
And we hope to join Him

Of course, each of these points could be expanded upon in volumes. But, luckily for us, the simple remembrance of this prayer doesn’t require to us haul volumes of books around. The prayer itself is sufficient for a lifetime of meditation.
So too the Lord’s prayer, the Creed, the Hail Mary, etc. While criticisms get leveled at Catholics that we rely too heavily on rote prayer, I don’t believe the criticisms carry much weight. For people who object to rote prayers and only believe spontaneous prayer to be valid, I assume that the only greeting cards they buy are blank inside.
Why do we pray? What is prayer? Essentially, prayer is our personal or corporate conversation with and worship of God (and the saints too, minus the worship). It is “a vital and personal relationship with the living and true God (CCC 2558).” Is my conversation with another, even a highly beloved other, lessened if I use rote formulas repetitively instead of spontaneous prose? ….

To read the rest of the essay click here–> Truth & Charity

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