QUAERITUR: Forcing people to pray “spontaneously”. (Turn the tables on ’em.)

From a professed sisterly readerette:

Many teachers on our staff are involved with the Charismatic Movement, including our principal. At the end of our faculty meetings she goes around the table requiring each teacher to make a spontaneous prayer. I am not comfortable doing this and how could I politely “pass”?

Pass?!?  Why would you want to “pass”?   Have a little fun with this!

How about memorizing and then “spontaneously” reciting with true fervor the Loríca of St. Patrick?

It’s long, which will make them all uncomfortable, and the invocations will scare the grits and biscuits out of the liberals present as you go on and on and on.

Maybe even stand up and put your arms in the orans position as you recite.  Or even cruciform!

Be sure to include all the good bits which will make feminists squirm in self-conscious guilt:

Lorica of Saint Patrick
I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through a belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of creation.

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ’s birth and His baptism,
Through the strength of His crucifixion and His burial,
Through the strength of His resurrection and His ascension,
Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of cherubim,
In obedience of angels,
In service of archangels,
In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In the prayers of patriarchs,
In preachings of the apostles,
In faiths of confessors,
In innocence of virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven;
Light of the sun,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of the wind,
Depth of the sea,
Stability of the earth,
Firmness of the rock.

I arise today
Through God’s strength to pilot me;
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s hosts to save me
From snares of the devil,
From temptations of vices,
From every one who desires me ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone or in a mulitude.

I summon today all these powers between me and evil,
Against every cruel merciless power that opposes my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom,
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of women and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man’s body and soul.
Christ shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that reward may come to me in abundance.

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through a belief in the Threeness,
Through a confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of creation.

It’s also environmental and green!  The LCWR should recite this at every meeting…. but then a whole bunch of the members would then instantly be expelled from the room, wouldn’t they.

Forced spontaneous prayer… pfft.

Consult also the Enchiridion Indulgentiarum for those brief, spontaneous little prayers that are so helpful to dispose us to greater devotion along with spiritual and corporal works of mercy.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Imrahil says:

    I’d be… kind-of… shall I say… tempted to say an Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be on that occasion.

    Or, let’s start without tone but you’d bet I’d be singing from the second stanza onwards… And perhaps, once, all of it and not only some three stanzas….

    Holy Go-od we prahaise Thy Name!
    Lord of ahall, we bahow before Thee!
    All on earth Thy scehepter claim,
    All in Heaven abahove adore Thee;
    Infinite Thy vast domain,
    Everlahasting ihis Thy reign.

    Hark! the lahoud celestial hymn
    Angel choirs above are raising,
    Cherubihim and seheraphim,
    In unciheasing chohorus praising;
    Fill the hea’ns with sweet accord:
    Holy, hoholy, hoholy, Lord.

    Lo! the ahapostoholic train
    Join the sahacred Nahame to hallow;
    Prophets swehell the lahoud refrain,
    And the white robéd martahyrs follow;
    And from morn to set of sun,
    Through the Chuhurch the sohong goes on.

    Holy Fahather, Hoholy Son,
    Holy Spihirit, Three we name Thee;
    While in essence only One,
    Undivided Go-od we claim Thee;
    And adoring bend the knee,
    While we ohown the mystery.

    Thou art Kihing of glohory, Christ:
    Son of Go-od, yet bohorn of Mary;
    For us sihinners sacrificed,
    And to daheath a tributary:
    First to break the bars of death,
    Thou hast ohopen’d Heaven to faith.

    From Thy hahigh celestial home,
    Judge of ahall, agahain retorning,
    We belihieve that Thahou shalt come
    In the draheaded duhoomsday morning;
    When Thy voice shall shake the earth,
    And the stahartled dahead come furth.

    Therefore doho we prahay Thee, Lord:
    Help Thy servants whohom, redeeming
    By Thy precious blood out-poured,
    Thou hast saved from Satan’s scheming.
    Give to them eternal rest
    In the glohory of the blest.

    Spare Thy piheople, Lohord, we pray,
    By a thousand snares surrounded:
    Keep us wihithout sihin today,
    Never let us be confounded.
    Lo, I put my trust in Thee;
    Never, Lord, abandon me.

  2. Way cool! And now do it in Latin.

  3. JonPatrick says:

    The words of the Lorica of St. Patrick above were set to music in the beautiful hymn “St. Patrick’s Breastplate” which as an Episcopalian we sang every year on Trinity Sunday. Unfortunately one rarely hears it in the Catholic Church. I suppose because it wasn’t composed by Marty Haugen and was written before 1970.

  4. joan ellen says:

    Thank God for this blog which gives balance to the thinking (and non-thinking) going on in our soul.
    I was beginning to think that to be in union with our Holy Father I was going to have to actively become more Protestant in my prayer life. With this list of short prayers perhaps some Protestants will adopt them instead.

  5. Learn off the Lorica ‘as Gaeilge’ and they’ll think you’re speaking in tongues!

  6. iPadre says:

    Why not throw in a “Pater noster”, “Ave Maria” or “Gloria in excelsis Deo”!

  7. Gregg the Obscure says:

    The wonderful Marian prayer you’ve posted before that originated with Bl. Bartolo Longo would work well in this situation too.

  8. eyeclinic says:

    Or just say”I’m not comfortable with this…please don’t bully me.” That’ll shut them down for good.

  9. De Tribulis says:

    Oh dear, now I totally want to memorise the Loríca… in three different languages to be prepared for every eventuality! :D

  10. Giuseppe says:

    I knew a nun, an elementary school teacher, who under her breath, was known to mutter: “O Jesus, come and squeeze us”

  11. APX says:

    And if they should start “speaking in tongues”, one could always just start speaking in Latin.

  12. Lepidus says:

    Great idea Father! I used to “spontaneously” due a memorized prayer myself. Once upon a time, I was on the Prayer and Worship committee (until they “didn’t have enough seats during the merger”. Guess I was too much “say the black” before I even knew the phrase). In any case, I used the English version of the Benediction prayer (does it have a name?) that was used by the priest when I was an altar boy in the early 80’s. The funny thing was that an uber-lefty in the group said she always liked my prayers. Here’s the one:

    O God, Who in this wonderful Sacrament of the Eucharist, left us a memorial of Your passion. Grant, we implore You, that we may so venerate the sacred mysteries of Your Body and Blood, as always to be conscious of the fruit of Your redemption. You Who live and reign forever and ever.”

    Yes, I realize that the translation is probably less than optimal, but that is what they were using and what I knew at the time. (The “of the Eucharist” was the actual spontaneous part, since it seemed like it needed the clarification when not done specifically in front of the exposed Eucharist.)

  13. Eriugena says:

    Deus, qui nobis sub Sacramento mirabili passionis tuae memoriam reliquisti: tribue, quæsumus, ita nos Corporis et Sanguinis tui sacra mysteria venerari; ut redemptionis tuæ fructum in nobis jugiter sentiamus: Qui vivis et regnas cum Deo Patre in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia sæcula sæculorum. Amen.

  14. Beau says:

    I would think a simple “Lord, deliver me from this silliness…” would do the trick.

  15. The Masked Chicken says:

    Your, “spontaneous prayer,” could be:

    “Dear Lord,

    We pray that you will never force us to pray.”

    Seriously, this is a a form of coercion under color of authority. It is also a contradiction: what is forced spontaneity? You could, I suppose, if you have tenure, explain that forced spontaneity, being a contradiction, has no truth content (easy enough to prove – you can even sound ominous by citing the Principle of Explosion) and, since, God is the Truth, such prayer is devoid of God’s presence. Thus, the principal is making you engage in an implicit form of blasphemy. You could, innocently, as if that were his or her intent.

    The best way to fight this, however, is to have some understanding of what Charismatic prayer is and is not, so that you can explain to your principal why this is inappropriate. I have written many times about the history of the movement in the comments and if the writer wants a detailed history sufficient to defuse an ardent person, let me know. There is certainly something properly called Charismatic prayer. Unfortunately, the Charismatics of today don’t do it.

    The Chicken

  16. Gail F says:

    I am going to copy that list and memorize a couple of the invocations — what a great idea. I know quite a few evangelical-type people who toss off “spontaneous” prayers all the time and I am very uncomfortable doing so. However, I would like to be able to, because they seem to think that if you can’t do so, you’re not really Christian. It isn’t really spontaneous for them, because they hear it all the time and so often-repeated phrases come easily to them, but they don’t see it that way. And I really don’t see much to recommend in exhortations like, “O Father, we just ask O Father that you be with us here and now, and O Father that you give us faith to see Your works everywhere, O Father, and that…” etc. etc. But it’s just what they’re used to.

  17. The Sicilian Woman says:

    Oh, how I hope that reader tries this and reports back.

  18. B16_Fan says:

    I finally swam the Tiber last Easter and the post by JonPatrick hit home with me. I’m just glad I wasn’t drinking anything when I got to his last sentence or my computer would not like me very much. :-) I would not go back to what TEC has become for all the money in the world, but there are things that I really miss. In almost 20 years in TEC from tiny mission churches to cathedrals I don’t think I ever received standing in a line. It was always kneeling. And the glorious Olde English liturgy, and the music.

  19. WaywardSailor says:

    After years of praying the abbreviated version of the Lorica (“Christ with me . . .), and reading the entire prayer on Saint Patrick’s Day alone, I made up my mind this past Lent to memorize it in its entirety. It was much easier than I anticipated. Concentrating on one stanza at a time, it took me about two weeks of daily use to memorize it completely and correctly. The Lorica and the Prayer to Saint Michael (another prayer Sister could consider for spontaneous recitation!) comprise my daily spiritual armor.

  20. Cascade_Catholic says:

    How about?

    The Fatima Prayer

    “Oh my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell and lead all souls to heaven, especially those MOST in need of Thy mercy.”

    Yep. That one should work. ;-)

  21. anilwang says:

    A key problem with much spontaneous prayer is that it tends to be so ego-centric (count the number of “I”s and “We”s in these prayers), granstanding (when done in public), and ironically can be very formulaic consisting of a mindless string of ready made phrases like “I just wanna” and “for this we praise you”.

    One good method of spontaneous prayer that avoids this trap is simply to pick a Psalm/Canticle, preferably one you don’t know well, and pray it with the mind, heart, and reverence of the person who originally wrote the Psalm/Canticle. All the Psalms can inspire sincere spontaneous prayer when read this way. Those spontaneous prayers need not be more than a sentence (any Charismatic who disagrees needs to read Matt 6:7). For instance, Psalm 137 (RSV) invites us to pray for victims of genocide and ethnic cleansing. The short prayers can also be added to the end or interspersed Lectio Divina/Teresian Prayer style.

  22. JPMedico says:

    In these cases I like to pray for things people probably don’t want to be reminded about. E.g. “Let’s pray for an end to the use of artificial contraception.”

  23. teomatteo says:

    “Against spells of women and smiths and wizards”

    Ut ohhhh……

  24. wanda says:

    Wow, Fr. Z., you knocked it out of the park. Can you be duplicated? Replicated? If ony there were some sci-fi, mass-producer, replicator machine. I can picture 1,000’s of Fr. Z.’s on the march, as in the Star Wars scene with all the storm troopers gathering in formation! I’d set them all loose in the USA, one for each parish. Ahhhh, to dream of it.

  25. anilwang says:

    This opens up an enormous bag of worms.

    If you read the lives of married saints, a significant number of them married spouses who lacked any sort of faith, and more than a few of those spouses were converted by their spouses faith. St Paul specifically states this in 1 Corinthians 7:23-16. In a significant number of marriages, one spouse is significantly more lukewarm than the other. Either their marriages were valid or not. If not, they don’t suddenly become valid if the spouse of weak faith suddenly becomes a saint. That would mean that a significant number of marriages are today and in the past are/were invalid, and if the spouses know that one of them lacked faith at the time of the wedding, they need to get their wedding again otherwise they are knowingly living in sin.

    Theology has consequences, and the consequences of this one are enormous.

    The covenant of marriage calls the spouses to share in the free, total, faithful, and fruitful. No matter how much they are prepared, most people going into marriage or having their first baby don’t really know what they’re getting into, but they grow into it, and mature because of it. That’s just the nature of marriage and child bearing. By this theology, most marriages start out invalid and then become valid over time or unknowingly stays invalid. But if even it becomes valid over time, what prevents it from regressing and becoming invalid again?

    There is currently a catechetical crisis WRT marriage. Despite this, Catholic have a significantly lower rate of divorce than Protestants and the general population. Its dismaying that than fix the catechetical crisis, there’s a trend towards “fixing theology to be more worldly due to the hardness of their hearts” and encouraging Catholics to divorce like everyone else because our theology is like everyone else’s.

  26. anilwang says:

    Sorry, I posted this in the wrong window. Please ignore my comment.

  27. Therese says:

    Such magnificence! How sad that the breastplate of St. Patrick should have been ‘sanitized’. Yes, for such an occasion, do memorize something appropriate, preferably in Latin. (With you on the other matter, anilwang.)

  28. Rich says:

    “That God may be given glory through the salvation of souls…

    “For an increase in fidelity to the magisterium of the Church, especially to the pope…

    “For in increase in faith in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist…

    “For an increase in true devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary…

    “For an increase of faith, hope, and love…

    “We just pray, Father God, that you would just, you know, just grant these things for us so that, you know, we may just do better to just give glory to your Holy Name in Jesus Christ our Lord!”

    Then, if you really want to get into the spirit of things with your principal, begin praying in tongues. A good approximation of praying in tongues would be to say, “Hoo lah meh lek-ah shai-ah hah-nu-nah ha-tah. Hah-shu nah-nah hot hot hot” (sort of Native American sounding….) Then make quick, repetitive “t” sounds with your tongue: “tuh tuh tuh tuh tuh tuh tuh”. Then just stand there with your head upraised like your in a trance with your hand held up in the air, saying nothing.

    You will show your principal who the REAL Charismatic in the room is…

  29. flyfree432 says:

    You are mistaking charismatics for liberals. I have met thousands of charismatics. Very few are politically liberal, heterodox, or heretical. Most are very conservative and even love the TLM. I don’t know any charismatics who would have a problem with that prayer, however inappropriate it was for this woman to try to force people to pray out loud (which has nothing to do with being a charismatic).

  30. Priam1184 says:

    I hadn’t heard of the Lorcia of St. Patrick but it is beautiful. Thank you Father. For what it’s worth my favorite spontaneous prayer goes like this:

    Ave Maria gratia plena, Dominus tecum.
    Benedicta tu in mulieribus et benedictus
    fructus ventris tui Iesus. Sancta Maria
    Mater Dei ora pro nobis peccatoribus
    nunc et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.

  31. Suburbanbanshee says:

    There are actually two different but very similar poems which are known as “The Breastplate (Lorica) of St. Patrick” and “The Deer’s Cry” (because praying it made St. Patrick and his guys look like a herd to deer to the eyes of hostile pagans, and their chant sound like weird deer noises). So if Fr. Z’s version looks unfamiliar, it’s because you’re used to the other.

    There was a whole genre of lorica prayers, both in Irish and in Latin. The Lorica of St. Brendan is pretty nice too.

    If you don’t feel up to memorizing the whole thing, old Irish books frequently tell us that memorizing and saying the last three verses of a long hymn was the same as doing the whole thing. :)

  32. Priam1184 says:

    @Rich That was priceless lol!

  33. Pax--tecum says:

    The (1962) Missal contains some Votive Masses and other prayers you could learn from heart. A good example would be:

    Defend us, we beseech Thee, O Lord, from all dangers of mind and body: and by the intercession of the blessed and glorious virgin Mother of God, Mary, with Thy blessed apostles Peter and Paul, and Blessed N., and all the Saints, grant us safety and peace in Thy goodness, so that with difficulties and error being brought to nothing, may Thy Church serve Thee in secure freedom. Through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.

  34. Robertus Pittsburghensis says:

    Philippa Martyr:

    Excellent idea! See the link below:


  35. Imrahil says:

    O Lord, frim Whom all things we have,
    we thank you for all that you gave*.
    You nourish us because of love,
    add blessing, so, form Hea’n above.

    * German equivalent of “Bless us o Lord and these thy gifts”. I could not use “thou” for rhyming reasons.

    And then explaun you meant spiritual food. :-)

  36. Imrahil says:

    from… and: explain.

  37. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    We sang a forty-fold Gospodi pomiluj setting in school, but I am not sure if I would know when to stop anymore…

    Speaking of ‘anymore’, does anyone still pray the whole Psalter daily, and if so, how?

  38. The Cobbler says:

    St. Patrick’s Breastplate and this comment thread are both pure awesome (albeit on somewhat different levels).

    Myself, I have noticed that the Gloria sounds quite a lot like a charismatic prayer (one that’s actually good, of course):
    “We praise you, we bless you! We adore you, we glorify you! We give you thanks for your great glory!”
    “Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father!”
    “You take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us! You take away the sins of the world, hear our prayer! You are seated at the right hand of the Father, have mercy on us!”
    “For You alone are the Holy One! You alone are the Lord! You alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ!”
    Praise, repeating with slight variations to hammer home a theme about God’s glory. Totally the charismatic thing, right?

    And if you chant it in the original Latin, you’re totally praying in tongues. To anyone who suggests otherwise, just say, “Hey, it’s the same Spirit Who moved the Apostles to say that prayer, if He still likes the same words that’s up to Him.”

    Or if you actually want to be annoying, you can spontaneously burst into the Dies Irae. Take your pick.

  39. The Jesus Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

    Learn to sing the Pater Noster in Latin … half the crowd could at Pope Benedict’s final blessing (search on YouTube/Google for “The final blessing: Pope Benedict’s last general audience”, it’ll be at the top). I sang with as best I could, and cried.

    Learn also the chant for the litany of the saints, and use all your favourite saints.

  40. Margaret says:

    I love Fr. Z’s original suggestion. (Faux) Celtic spirituality is all the rage these days. And if anyone gives her the stink-eye for going on so long, she can simply claim to be “channeling” St. Patrick.

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