By Maria Covarrubias
This year, the Church will celebrate Catechetical Sunday on September 18 and will focus on the theme “Prayer: The Faith Prayed.”
Those who the community has designated to serve as catechists will be called forth to be commissioned for their ministry. Catechetical Sunday is a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the role that each person plays, by virtue of Baptism, in handing on the faith and being a witness to the Gospel. Catechetical Sunday is an opportunity for all to rededicate themselves to this mission as a community of faith.
Prayer is the most effective tool we have to encounter with God. It helps us to know God and to establish a close relationship with Him. Prayer provides the environment to share with God our joys, gratitude, concerns, needs and requests. For these reasons the Church offers us different styles of prayer. Traditional prayers and Sunday Mass are the most familiar forms of prayer. However, you can pray using different postures and gestures and in all times and circumstances.
Other types of prayer are meditation, contemplation and the liturgical year which connects us to the history of salvation. In the Scriptures we find prayers formulated by tradition from the first Christian communities. These include prayers of praise and blessing, petition, intercession, thanksgiving and praise.
Blessing and Adoration - Blessing expresses the basic movement of Christian prayer as an encounter with God. Adoration is the first attitude of the man and woman in recognition of being created by God.
Prayer of Petition - This is a most usual and spontaneous form of prayer through which we express awareness of our relationship with God. The vocabulary in the New Testament is rich in shades of meaning: ask, beseech, plead, invoke, entreat, and cry out, even “struggle in prayer.”
Prayer of Intercession – Intercession is a prayer of petition which leads us to pray as Jesus did. Through the intercession prayer we intercede and ask God for the benefit of others.
The Prayer of Thanksgiving - This characterizes the prayer of the Church. As in the prayer of petition, every event and need can become an offering of thanksgiving.
Prayer of Praise – This is the form of prayer which recognizes most immediately that God is God. It lauds God for his own sake and gives Him glory, quite beyond what He does, but simply because He is.
The Church in its wisdom offers a wide variety of forms of prayer for every moment and circumstance. Jesus teaches us to pray to the Father through the Our Father and with his example encourages us to be persistent and never get tired of praying, because the more we exercise prayer we are closer to the will of God and his plan of life for us. “Watch and pray, so that they can stand without fear before the Son of man” (Luke 21, 36).
Maria Covarrubias is director of the Office of Catechetical Ministry in the Diocese of San Bernardino.