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Jucifer: Hennin Hardine

Three Favorite Prayers

I don't believe in memes, in the sense that the term was meant when it was invented, so I'm not going to call this a meme. Theme is a perfectly good word for it, a conversational topic passed around in a sort of game, and Pentimento tagged me with this one: what are your three favorite prayers?

1) I'm going to start by cheating and counting the Our Father and the Hail Mary as one, because I usually say them together. A rosary-induced habit, I guess. (They're like Coca-Cola and Golden Flake Potato Chips: "'Great pair,' says the Bear." Southerners of a certain age will recognize that.) I learned the Our Father as a child (we called it the Lord's Prayer, which really I like better). I learned the Hail Mary not long before I became a Catholic. I never had the resistance to it that many Protestants seem to. It seemed immediately meaningful and perfectly natural to me to pray to a woman, the mother of God, and I had no problem understanding that she is not herself God.

2) The Chaplet of Mercy. You can see why this devotion has become so popular: so many of us feel that there is some desperate emergency happening, at both the individual and cultural levels. I felt that God was speaking to me--and that's not a feeling I have very often--when I read "I desire to grant unimaginable graces to those souls who trust in My mercy." Well, I really am not capable of very much in the way of virtue and devotion, but dang it I can trust in His mercy.

3) The Apostle's Creed. Not a prayer, exactly, but saying it is a form of devotion. I learned this in my early teens, when I was confirmed in the Methodist Church, and I don't think there is anything I ever learned in school that was so important. It sank into me, somehow, and even during the years when I didn't believe, I knew that this was what I didn't believe, and that anyone who claimed to believe but could not affirm this in a straightforward way did not really believe. It inoculated me against theological modernism. Most importantly, it gives me strength, a sense of being grounded, a renewal of hope and purpose. "The resurrection of the body and the life everlasting." Yes. Yes. Yes.


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For as long as I can remember knowing prayers, the Memorare has been my favorite. I don't remember why I loved it so much when I was little; I guess I just loved Mary. Then, when my kids were little and they would be hurt or tired climb into my lap to cry or rest or just to snuggle, I would find myself wishing that I had a great big mother whose lap I could crawl into when I was tired and sad. I think praying the Memorare is a little bit like that.

I also love the Anima Christi.

And then there are Elizabeth Goudge's three prayer with three words: Lord have mercy, Thee I adore, Into your Hands. That seems to say about all that needs to be said. The older I get, the more aware I am that I am not a very good judge of what I or anybody else needs, and my words seem increasingly inadequate, but prayer seems to cover it all.

And, "O, help!" is pretty good, too.:-)


I never managed to memorize the Memorare. No pun intended. The Goudge one is very good, too. And I lean heavily on that passage from St. Paul where he talks about the Spirit praying for us when we don't have words, or however that goes.

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