Practices and devotionals
Being a catholic has it pluses, many of them actually. I think one is the number of devotional practices that are out there for people to partake in. Usually one or two is picked and the devotional life starts. One of the good things about these practices is that it allows one to pray and mediate on a regular basis, which soon becomes a habit that over flows into every day life. Many use scriptures every day for their devotions, others us practices that are based on scripture, but primarily come through some saint, or mystic to which the devotion has been revealed. Others develop over the centuries, like the Rosary for instance.
The rosary for example, took centuries to develop. It started as 150 Our Father’s, said to honor the 150 psalms in the bible. It was often called the poor man’s Psalter, since in the past very few knew how to read. Slowly it changed; Hail Mary’s replaced the Our Father on most beads, then it was broke down in decades, with the Our Father as the break point. Then the mysteries, based mostly on the scriptures were brought in, so today the Rosary is a popular devotion, mostly for Catholics, but non-Catholics in ever increasing numbers are starting to use it as well. The beads help to calm down the body, the gentle flow of being passed between the fingers is relaxing, which allows the mind to be free to ponder the mysteries. No one says it the same. Some are fast, others slow, no matter whatever works.
The chaplet of mercy, which is said with Rosary beads, is also another modern and very popular devotion, which began in the 1930’s I believe. What is good about this chaplet is its focus and intention on prayer for all of mankind, each person lifted up before the Father, asking for mercy obtained by the death and resurrection of Jesus. It is simple, and easy to learn, and I use it often in my moments when I am driving, walking, listening to the radio etc.
These prayers, if said in a peaceful attentive manner, slowly open up the heart to God’s presence through out the day, and many can say ‘prayers’ without interruption or compulsion. The prayer of the heart comes to mind, often spoken of by those who say the Jesus Prayer on a regular basis.
Perhaps devotions are like a spiritual drink of water, which carries one through the day. It does not matter what devotions is used, as long as it is one compatible with the user. For instance prayers like the Rosary or chaplets would drive some people crazy, so they should not use them. Many like novenas, I am not big on them, yet many find a deep connection with God through this means. The psalms as I get older are becoming more important to me for use as private prayer, others don’t, and that is ok. Use what fits.