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    A Mother’s Rule of Life {Post 4}

    December 9, 2011 by Brandy Vencel

    The third chapter of A Mother’s Rule of Life concerns prayer. By prayer, though, Pierlot really means all of one’s personal spiritual life–prayer, yes, but also time for study and meditation, and even the Sacraments are included under this heading.

    The spirit of the first P [Prayer], then, is to look into our own lives, see where God has led us so far, and learn what we ought to do to make ourselves more available to his direct and personal intervention in our lives.

     Also:

    [I]n the first P, we must consciously include time for God in our schedules.

    Why should we plan it? I suppose the first question is why wouldn’t we plan it, when we are planning everything else? Why shouldn’t God get a place at that table? But moreover Pierlot reminds us:

    As mothers, we…can quite innocently get caught up in the distractions of daily life and not even notice that our relationship with God is slipping. We suddenly realize we haven’t really prayed for a while. Even with the best intentions, this can happen regularly if we haven’t consciously set aside time…

    There are two basic guidelines given for the Rule: reasonable and practical. If it can’t be done, or can’t be maintained, it’s just not a good idea.

    Here are some of Pierlot’s spiritual priorities:

    • Formal prayers
    • Rosary
    • Time with Scripture, quiet reflection, and spiritual reading
    • Confession
    • Eucharist
    • Spiritual direction {Pierlot has an actual Spiritual Director, so this is a formal appointment she would keep, for those of you who are unfamiliar with the concept}
    • Adoration
    • Mother’s Sabbath {one day every two weeks set aside to keep her spiritually refreshed}

    I found myself wondering what this list would look like for me, if I really sat down and thought about it. I am still wondering, because I still haven’t sat down and thought about it. Maybe I’ll have a short one by the time I’m done writing this post.

    Ahem.

    Last year, if you recall, I resolved to add commentary reading into the mix. I’ve done that {though I haven’t completed either of the two little commentaries I’ve begun}, and it really has been enriching. This year, I’ve been contemplating adding in formal, written prayers. This would include memorizing prayers from Scripture, but I was thinking primarily of something I would purchase–a book of Puritan prayers {Valley of Vision perhaps} or maybe a Lutheran Book of Prayer. My mind, during prayer, is increasingly difficult to reign in. It wanders, and suddenly I’m not praying anymore. I think that reading prayers–and learning to mean them with my heart–would be a better discipline than trying to chase down my brain all the time.

    My list, then, would include {but not be limited to}:

    • Scripture reading
    • Commentary reading
    • Scripture memorization
    • Formal prayer
    I read a lot of books and aritcles that would dovetail nicely with this list, and yet I mentally categorize them more as an intellectual pursuit, so I’m keeping that sort of reading off of this list. I also didn’t include church-type activities because I’m mainly approaching this book as a means of examining my weekdays to see if there are places I can improve them. We have regular small group meetings in the evenings, for example, and obviously we go to church on Sunday, and so on, but none of that is going on my list of what I do or wish to do between 7:30am and 5:30pm daily.
    If that makes sense.
    I get the impression that Pierlot’s Rule covered every hour of every day, and I just don’t work that way, nor do I think it is necessary for me.
    If I can take away one thing from this chapter that I think would benefit myself and my family the most, it is this practice:

    I also was intrigued by the notion of making my whole day a prayer, and so, after each of the time slots I had chosen for prayer, I would try consciously to offer the next chunk of time to God. This helped me maintain recollection…This conscious awareness of God was the most important thing to me, and so I actually wrote down my prayer schedule on paper and charts so I could just “obey” what was written and free my mind and heart to speak with God throughout my day.

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    5 Comments

  • Reply Brandy @ Afterthoughts December 13, 2011 at 4:01 am

    KM and Meg, I just wanted to quickly thank you for the links; I’m checking them out tonight. 🙂

  • Reply Meg December 11, 2011 at 5:56 am

    I know you aren’t Catholic, but you might also enjoy something like the Liturgy of the Hours. It is mostly Psalms and other reading from Scripture with some intercessions. You can find it online here: http://www.universalis.com/

  • Reply Kansas Mom December 11, 2011 at 2:46 am

    One of the things that drew Kansas Dad to the Catholic church was the idea of reading written prayers. Not that you can’t find it in other faiths, but his background was evangelical Baptist and he often felt uncomfortable making up his own prayers.

    You might be interested in reading about the examen of St. Ignatius of Loyola (http://ignatianspirituality.com/ignatian-prayer/the-examen/how-can-i-pray/)

    We say a Morning Offering every day and it is a wonderful way to begin our day. Right from the start we are concentrating on Jesus and offering everything (prayers, works, joys and sufferings). Our version is here: http://www.ewtn.com/Devotionals/prayers/morning2.htm. Obviously, non-Catholics wouldn’t say it, but I think writing or finding an equivalent and praying it every morning would be beneficial for anyone.

  • Reply Brandy @ Afterthoughts December 10, 2011 at 5:33 pm

    Sara,

    What a good idea! Now that you mentioned it, I have remembered that my “better” prayer life in high school involved *written* prayers. I have always disciplined my thinking by writing it out, and I suppose here it would be no different.

    My interest in written prayers is also to gather the *form* of the prayer. I think it would be good for me to see how saints pray–what their priorities were, for instance. {I am always struck that Paul and John pray for people to love each other, and that is something I haven’t done much of.} I remember when my husband was in the hospital, I was exposed to a greater variety of prayer because there were so many people involved, and I remember thinking that my view of prayer was very narrow.

    I think I’ll place written prayers on my list here at home! 🙂 Thanks!

  • Reply sara December 10, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    Brandy, I read this book on your recommendation. I finished it about a week ago and I am finding it very helpful (though, of course, I have some theological disagreements). I can’t wait until you get to the parts about partners and children.

    I am finding that whether my prayers are memorized, read, or extemporaneous is less crucial to keeping my mind engaged than is saying them aloud or writing them down. If I try to pray just in my mind, my mind often wanders. I have the same trouble reading books at times and so, in times of great distraction, I have taken to reading aloud to myself.

    Sometimes I do allow myself to wool gather because it helps me to synthesize floating ideas, but that’s a separate thing I guess.

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