By: Fr. Roy Cimagala
WE should never underestimate the power of the vocal prayers. They may sound trite and worn-out after years of simply mechanically praying them, but they actually are the quickest and easiest way we can make use of to put ourselves truly and divinely inspired.
And the simple reason is that these prayers are truly inspired prayers. They are not just human inventions, products of our pious creativity. They come directly from Christ, as is the case of the Lord’s Prayer, or from the lips of important biblical characters as is the case of the Hail Mary and many other prayers.
Of course, there are also many other vocal prayers that are composed by saints and by Church authorities who are given such power by Christ himself. The liturgical prayers at Mass and in the celebration of the other sacraments, as well as breviary of the priests, are very enlightening and helpful, to say the least.
If we would just put our mind and heart into praying them, if we would just pray them with faith and piety, there is no way but for us to be transported deep into the spiritual and supernatural world where our deepest yearnings are satisfied, at least for a time.
These prayers also teach us what to say when we pray, what to ask from God, what attitudes and sentiments we ought to have toward God, others and everything else in this life, especially the different situations and predicaments that we can encounter in life.
They have the power to educate our mind and heart, conforming them to the mind and heart of Christ, which is what actually is proper to us, since we are being created and redeemed to be God’s image and likeness, children of his in Christ.
In fact, when we pray the vocal prayers, we would be praying together with and through the Holy Spirit. Our prayer would not just be our own prayer, but also that of the Holy Spirit, of Christ and of his Church, since the Church is the mystical body of Christ! We should never feel alone when we pray the vocal prayers. We have to realize that we are in very good company when we pray to them.
If we only know what is involved when we pray the vocal prayers, I am sure that we would be deeply motivated to make use of them very often, especially in our moments of difficulty and special needs.
That is why the vocal prayers should be taught to everybody as early as possible, as in teaching them to little children, explaining well their importance and effectiveness, and supporting such catechesis with clear examples of the elders.
Let’s remember that the little ones learn more from what they see than from what they hear. When they see their parents and older siblings praying the vocal prayers with fervor and piety, it would not take long before these kids would do the same. Their capacity to follow or imitate what they see is big. Thus, the practice of the family rosary is most recommendable.
Of course, we should pray these vocal prayers with naturalness, without exaggerated gestures that can only betray some hidden motives of a misunderstood sense of holy pride, vanity and piosity, the caricature of piety.
But naturalness does not mean that we shy away from some public display in praying the vocal prayers, as when we do pilgrimages, etc. The vocal prayers should not be considered as simply something personal and private. They have a strong social and public character also. They actually do a lot of good to people in general.
These prayers should not be regarded as only for children or old women who have nothing better to do than to pray the whole day. Such an attitude can only betray one’s ignorance of the value of the vocal prayers, if not one’s defense mechanism to justify his laziness, lack of faith, etc.