By Phyllis Zagano
The first thing we need to know and believe is that prayerany type
of prayeris real, and that God knows our needs and always answers our prayers
Most times, when we think of prayer the prayer of petition first comes
to mind. It is a commonplace to say that sometimes Gods answer to our prayerful
pleas is no, but that, come to think of it, the no we seem
to hear is in fact a yes.
God always affirms who we are as humans. That is, when we pray in petition
for things we want, God kindly teaches us who we are by supplying what we truly need.
In other words, we may want a new car to impress friends and neighbors, but
what we need is a security in Gods creation of us as loved in his eyes.
Once we accept that gifta gift born of prayerthen the rest becomes easy
So the first petition we must present to the Lord is a genuine petition
to see ourselves as God sees us. And God sees us, always, as perfect for what we are
to do and how we are to be, so long as we cooperate in Gods plan and with Gods
Often, people want to know what the best type of prayer is.
I do not believe there is any best prayer, provided that every prayer is
rooted in an understanding of our dependence on God and his unconditional love for
There are four essential movements of the heart that follow our accepting
that God exists and God loves us. They are adoration, petition, contrition and thanksgiving.
Each is a separate movement of the heart and of the head, and each is best for
a certain time of life, or even for a certain time of day.
Loving and Being Loved
Adoration is at once the easiest and the hardest type of prayer
because it requires that we do nothing but love and be loved. That involves giving
up control, which most of us do not like to do.
But think of the wonder in a babys eyes as the child looks at you.
And think of the wonder in your eyes as you look at the child. This is how you are
with God, and God with you, in the prayer of adoration. No wordsat least not
manyjust a sharing of love between two beings for whom there is nothing and no
one else in the world at that moment.
Contrition is another familiar type of prayer. With contrition
we acknowledge that we have made a mistake, denied Gods perfect creation of us
and tried to remedy the pain of that denial.
Sometimes we do this with excessive alcohol or food, or sometimes we
misuse our sexual faculties. Sometimes our insecurities cause us to lie or cheat or
steal. These are real forces in everyones life, and we need to apologize to God
for denying who we are and forgetting that our real security is with God, not with
creatures or with creature comforts. So we say sorry in a deep and genuine
way, and move on.
Answered in Love
Petition, as we said earlier, involves simply asking a favor of
God. Sometimes the favor we ask cannot be grantedthe loved one will die, the
job will end, the illness will return. Here we can feel quite angry with God. That
is actually very healthy, for we have the right as Gods beloved to complain and
to complain loudly. As we do, we might hear more clearly how God has answered our prayers
in love (albeit in the negative), and how God wants us to have lives that mirror his
love for the world.
Thanksgiving is the final mode of prayer, and one that deserves
much more attention than we give it. Thanksgiving is more than simple mannerslike
the thank-you notes after birthdays and Christmas. Thanksgiving is a minute-by-minute
attitude that brings us to the place of conscious dependence upon the Lord and joyful
acceptance of Gods will in our lives. Thank you must always be in
our hearts and on our lips, from morning until night.
The attitude of gratitude makes sense of adoration, petition, contrition
and thanksgiving, and brings us joyfully to the understanding that everything we know
and have is given by God in love.
So when we pray, we find Gods gift of joy in lifewithout
our even asking for it.
Next: Who Then Can Be Saved?
What are your favorite prayers or ways of praying?
How has your prayer life affected your faith? How has your
faith affected your prayer life?
Jesus and Prayer
By Judith Dunlap
Whenever my children asked if God answers our prayers, I would tell them, Yes.
When we ask God for anything, we will always receive exactly what we need. And
then I would tell them the story of Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane.
The story begins right after the Last Supper. Jesus knows that the people
in power are very angry with him, and he knows what they do to people who anger them.
So he goes to his favorite spot in the garden to pray. Jesus is really, really afraid.
In St. Lukes Gospel, it even says he sweats blood. (You would have to be very
scared to sweat blood.) Jesus does not want to suffer. He does not want to die, and
he prays with all his heart that God will not let that happen. Three times he prays,
letting God know exactly what he wants. Finally, he tells God he trusts him and will
accept whatever happens.
God answers Jesus prayer, not by removing his suffering or his
death but by giving him just what he needs. The Jesus who gets up after praying is
not the same as he was before. Im sure Jesus is still afraid, but after his prayer
he stands up strong and confident. God has given him enough courage to face whatever
is to come.
Let your children know that God is always with them, just as he was with
Jesus. But remind them that having courage does not mean being without fear. Our bravest
heroes and heroines are people who did the right thing even though they were scared.
Teach your children to pray for what they want and to trust God to give them what they
need. Pray with them; and then talk about how their prayers were answered.
Take some time this week to talk about how God answers your prayers.
Pray together for the things you need and then come together to talk about how
God answered your prayers.
Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont
By Frank Frost
We tend to think of family films as being suitable for children.
But Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont is a family film thats actually better
suited for adultsthose who can claim enough life experience to really understand
the value of friendship and the connections that create and bind a family, whether
or not they share the same bloodlines.
Residential hotels like the Claremont are less common now, with the rise
of assisted living homes. But elderly people with enough money sometimes still take
up long-term residence at places like the Claremont, where they can get housekeeping
and meals. Mrs. Palfrey (Joan Plowright) first learns of the Claremont Hotel in London
through an ad, but the reality does not meet her expectations. When she first moves
in, her repeated reactions of Oh, dear reveal her disappointment.
As she assesses the dining room, its sparse and subdued population and
the unremarkable food, she is, in turn, assessed by current residents. They are all
a bit dotty. With a light touch the film walks a careful line between humor and sensitivity,
never making fun of the elderly characters but still enjoying their eccentricities.
The story rotates around her offbeat friendship with a young man, Ludo
(Rupert Friend), which springs from an accident: When she falls on the street, he helps
her out and sees her home. The Claremont residents all believe he is the grandson who
has, until now, been failing to visit her, and Mrs. Palfrey does nothing to change
their minds. Her momentary deception becomes an ongoing charade, with Ludos cooperation,
as their unlikely friendship continues and deepens.
Ludo becomes a friend who helps Mrs. Palfrey to escape the trap of living
a life confined to the Claremont. Meanwhile, he has his own ongoing struggles with
his mother and girlfriends as he fails to get traction in his life as an aspiring writer.
As Ludo and Mrs. Palfrey recognize the loneliness each faces, their friendship deepens.
Ludo helps Mrs. Palfrey to acknowledge the wonderful life she led with her late husband
and to face a satisfying present, while she helps him feel valued and validated, inspiring
him to write.
Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont is remarkable for its openness about
old age and death, and the loneliness we all face, regardless of age, when we lack
meaningful personal connections in our lives. Mrs. Palfrey tries to maintain her connection
to her daughter and grandson, while also trying to stay independent and not become
a burden to them. Though they are the actual blood relatives, they are cold and uncaring
people. When they finally come to visit, they see her only as a reflection of their
It is in the unlikely characters of young Ludo as well as her friends
in residence at the Claremont that Mrs. Palfrey finds family and unselfish friendship.
What values do you find in this film?
By Judy Ball
St. Jane Frances de Chantal (1562-1641)
Jane Frances de Chantals life was filled with many tragedies and
struggles, but God blessed her with the gift of fortitude and a deep desire to stay
close to him.
Born into a wealthy French family, Jane lost her mother at 18 months.
Her father nurtured and guided her, and she grew into a woman of refinement and beauty
known for her cheerful temperament. She married at 21, and adored her husband and their
three children. Her idyllic family life was shattered when her husband was killed in
a hunting accident. She determined she would not remarry. But what was she to do with
She went through years of depression before she met the man who would
serve as her spiritual directorFrancis de Sales, then bishop of Genevaand
help her discover what to do with the rest of her life.
In 1610, Jane and Francis founded a new religious congregation, the Order
of the Visitation of Mary. Its members would dedicate themselves to prayer and works
of charity while seeking to imitate Marys humility and meekness. Initially, it
was agreed the women would live in community but be free to work beyond convent walls.
But Church officials objected, and the new congregation became a cloistered community.
Happy in her new life, Jane still faced challenges: Her beloved spiritual
director died; her son was killed in war; a plague ravaged France; she endured years
of spiritual struggles. Meanwhile, the new congregation grew to 80 communities across
several countries (and continues to this day).
Jane Frances de Chantal died at the age of 69 and was buried near St.
Francis de Sales. Her feast day is celebrated on August 18.
Friends tease Pat Stockton that tell me all about yourself is
written all over her face. People just seem to feel like telling me their stories, the
trained spiritual director told Every Day Catholic.
The stories Ms. Stockton most likes to hear are about Gods movement
in peoples lives, including the priests and laywomen now seeing her for spiritual
direction. Her full-time work is as director of campus ministry for the Archdiocese
A native of Peru, Ms. Stockton knew early in life that she wanted to
use her talents and energies helping others. While she has found many ways to fulfill
that goalas community organizer for migrant workers, as social worker and as
hospital chaplainshe takes special delight in the role of spiritual director.
She likens it to serving as a mirror to the presence of God in someones
life and helping a person become conscious of how God is longing to be
present in his or her life.
Spiritual direction, she said, involves sitting in a very privileged
place. Its almost like sitting in Gods chairbeing fully loving and
attentiveand, often, hearing things never shared with anybody else.
Though spiritual direction doesnt necessarily lead to dramatic
changes in someones lifesuch as the new direction that Jane Frances de
Chantal took with hers after working with Francis de SalesMs. Stockton has witnessed
quiet transformations that are profound and life-altering.
And, in the process, she has enriched her own sense of solidarity with
humankind. There is more that unites us than separates us. We are all searching
to live life at its core level. Its about being the person God has created us