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Evansville, Indiana
December 18, 1987     The Message
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December 18, 1987
 

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Faith Today Supplement, The Message, Catholic Diocese of Evansvilie, December 18, 1987 I I Devotional moments By Father David K. O'Rourke, OP NC News Service F orty years ago when I was a little boy, our pastor always ended his Sunday sermon with the week's announcements. And the announcements always had the same conclusion. We knew he was about to leave the pulpit when he said, "Novena to the Sacred Heart Friday after Mass and devotions to Our Lady of Perpetual Help Monday night at 7:30." I used to wonder what these devotions were. But since our family's church attendance never varied from the second pew at the 11 a.m. Mass I never found out. Today interest in religious devo- tions that complement the church's regular worship is grow- ing. Attendance at Mass still forms the solid core of Catholic worship and is clearly the principal form of piety for most Catholics. But other kinds of piety, more individual and personal, also maintain their appeal. What is their appeal? Let me answer by describing two friends who have very different ap- proaches to private devotions. Mark is a lawyer, a young man with big responsibilities in a ma'jor California law firm. He works long hours on high pressure cases. As a result moments for quiet and reflection are a luxury. Near his office is a church which regularly has religious devo- tions at lunch time. There are novenas to saints on the occasion of their annual feasts, special devo- tions during Advent and Lent and periodic exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. Mark drops into the church at lunch time, at least for a few minutes, several times a week. "I have to admit that my reasons are as much tied to peace and quiet as to devotion," Mark told me. "But in my work the pressure is so constant you have to make an effort to give spiritual matters some quality time." The devotions in the down- town church meet the per- sonal religious needs of this busy young man. "They're prayerful, they're peaceful and I find them relig- iously nourishing., Mark added another quality he values. "They're also de- pendable. All I have to do is show up and I know that a prayerful rite will be scheduled. And when you're practically com- muting between your client's office and the superior court that means so much." Another friend who is semiretired takes an active part in a Bible-centered prayer group. Marilyn tells me that her group does not gather to study the Scrip- ture, although group members do that on their own. "We just read the passages from the Sunday liturgy and then pray about whatever the readings bring to mind or whatever seems impor- tant." Devotions traditionally differ from the church's official public worship. Theologians point out that the church's public liturgy is grounded in the creature's duty to honor the Creator and in the corn- munity's need to foster its human and religious well-being. Because of its public nature, the liturgy has a communal and a formal quality. Religious devotions can be tied more greatly to individual needs, to local practices or cultural tradi- tions. Marilyn's active role and regular participation in her group are very different from Mark's pressured attempt to catch whatever devotional moments he can. But their devotions have notes in common. They come in response to per- sonal needs. They are added to public worship, not substituted for it. The breadth of spiritual needs created by our society, which moves so fast, is great. So we witness people trying to find ways to bring spiritual meaning into their lives. For many, the rediscovery of traditional religious devotions and the development of new ones is proving a means to that spiritual renewal. O'Rourke teaches pas- toral theology at Graduate Theo- logical Union in Berkeley, Calif.) I in the By Father Lawrence Mick -;' foll NC News Service recited - nating he church's Liturgy of Eac the Hours is making its pause way into the lives of lect, a more and more lay A re people, cagion Many parishes are beginning to writer, meet people's need to pray silerit t 'together in settings beyond official Then worship by celebrating some form Mary's of the Liturgy of the Hoursr petite, Divine Office. Following the comm church's ancient tradition, groups followq of Catholics have begun to gather blessinl for morning or evening prayer, us- the ser ing adaptations of the Liturgy of This the Hours that priests and deacon very pq are expected to pray daily, i numbe In one suburban parish I once to mee served, we celebrated Vespers or prayer, Evensong every Wednesday even- devotk ing in church. Parishioners were Like th encouraged to gather for this relative prayer before they went to the it cont: parish meetings scheduled that very fa night. Other parishioners cat tionZq(l just for the chance to be sup- of ince ported by others in their prayer, fostere, We began with the lighting of among the Easter candle and an evening pray tc hymn. During the singing of This Psalm 141 ("My prayers rise like connec incense"), a minister incensed the the cht candle and the congregation. This Euchari standard evening psalm was change, The dialog By Father John Castelot in the NC News Service of thrc never could understand a thre why my mother was so in- tentio terested in the obituary and i column of the daily pap,r, sacred Now that I have reache:a bit certain (or uncertain) age, I under- arouse stand. One's friends and acquain- and m tances turn up here much more ble stu frequently than on the front page. really : One interesting development is on Scr the frequency of the notice, "Scrip- to res[ ture service at 7 p.m." Frequently what ( this seems to replace the former Imp notice, "Rosary at 7 p.m." praye It is not that the rosary is non- has b scriptural. After all, the Our Father charac and the first part of the Hail Mary with C come directly from the Gospels. hfoh But the Scripture service offers 'r'.'" variety and answers a need people sharin I feel to seek strength by listening to pie to the word of God. a thou There are so many marvelous Real passages 4o speak to the hearts of lack ol men and women encountering studie, once again the mystery of death in avail t] their lives, many This is only One sign of a grow- Expc ing realization of the tremendous "Share potential of Scripture as a source Paulist of personal devotion. Evangc Thc revised Liturgy of the Word popul I