The other day I posted about New Year’s Resolutions – or lack of them. If you read the post then you know that they have never been my thing – and that I have been prompted by the Spirit to ask the question #whynot? Why not try something new or different, something that has been long desired – or recently imagined – and see what happens? Most change, as we know, comes slowly. Many times one small change can bring forth more sweeping ones over time.
One thing that seems to come up for a lot of people is the desire to pray; either to begin a regular prayer practice, or to deepen an existing one. Speaking as the world’s most undisciplined person, I can tell you that the only consistent practice in my life is my prayer practice. This is no red badge of courage, and I do not boast. For whatever reason, I have prayed almost every morning for the past 24 years. Sometimes I miss a day or two, but typically that is my routine. People will often ask me how to get started with prayer, which is a very open ended question.
A few things are important when beginning a prayer practice, and I will address them in a short series of posts that begins with this one. One thing that can really help begin a prayer practice, or deepen an existing one, is an anchor. An anchor can be a book that is used on a regular basis.
One of the books that I recommend, is also a book that keeps on giving. (If you have read this blog, you may already know about this, but I am bringing it up again.) Three years ago, I had the privilege of becoming involved with the Homilists for the Homeless project that was conceived by Deacon James Knipper.
Jim had a dream and a big idea – and it was indeed a big idea – was to ask various people to contribute a homily or reflection for each Sunday and Holy Day of the Catholic liturgical year to this book. Authors come from various traditions and are male and female, so that a great diversity would be offered and widen the appeal.
Contributors range from the well-known such as Richard Rohr OFM, James Martin SJ, the artwork of Bro. Mickey McGrath OSFS, to others who have clear voices, but may be less widely known. The books would be sold and proceeds would go to charitable organization. Three years and three volumes have yielded over $30,000 in donations.
Well, that’s nice, you may say, but what about prayer? One of the ways that some people use the book is to reflect on the mass readings. For example, you could spend the week before or after Sunday, reading the published homily, and praying with that. Perhaps it would give you your own ideas about the reading, ways in which you seek to know God more deeply, or understand why your love for Christ is what it is. Alternately, it may help formulate questions that you have for God about your life, or a particular situation. The books can also be used for small faith sharing groups, with the homilies as starting points for prayer, reflection and discussion.
Let you think I am being completely self-serving, I can promise you that the benefits of this idea are meant to address those who seek to enter more comprehensively into the weekly readings, with the anchor of a homily that they can read. I don’t know about you, but I often hear a homily that I love, yet I can’t pull all the details together in my mind the next morning!
The other benefit? Lots of them, all the charities that will continue to receive donations based upon the sales of the books!
As the question goes… #whynot?
If you are interested, you can get the book(s) in several ways. The first is to go to the Clear Faith Publishing website and click on the shop tab. Or you can explore the most recent volume, past volumes, and the three year set at the Homilists for the Homeless tab if you wish and shop from there. If you are in the Albany, NY area you can contact me to buy a book, or pay a visit to O’Connor’s in Latham.
This is a start, I will have other ideas and suggestions. I hope that no matter what, you will consider a purchase, because maybe that’s another reso… ooops… another #whynot question, to give and serve more.
Be assured of my prayers as we begin 2015! Thanks always for reading and following this blog.