Mark P. Shea is a popular Catholic writer and speaker. The author of numerous books, his most recent work is The Work of Mercy (Servant) and The Heart of Catholic Prayer (Our Sunday Visitor). Mark contributes numerous articles to many magazines, including his popular column “Connecting the Dots” for the National Catholic Register. Mark is known nationally for his one minute “Words of Encouragement” on Catholic radio. He also maintains the Catholic and Enjoying It blog. He lives in Washington state with his wife, Janet, and their four sons.
A reader writes:
For whatever it’s worth, you’ve been “tagged” to share your five favorite Catholic devotions. I for one would be interested in knowing ...
I’m terrible with these sorts of things, because my spiritual life is so uninspiring. I suppose I could be a smart alec and say my five favorite devotions were Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Confession and Matrimony (I don’t want the other two sacraments especially), but that’s hardly in the spirit of the thing.
I will say, however, that “the sacraments” are in fact at the core of my devotional life and I regard my private devotions as more or less spokes on a wheel radiating out of these. In particular, I am fond of Eucharist, Marriage, and Confession, which are the three means by which God keeps me on an even keel.
In addition to this, I make use of the Morning Offering (“Oh my Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer you my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day in union with the holy sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world; for all the intentions of your sacred heart: in reparation for my sins, for the intentions of all my relatives and friend, and in particular for the intentions of our Holy Father Benedict XVI”) There are lots of variations on this, but that’s the one we learned.
In addition, I try to remember to offer up the day’s work with a prayer in which I make the sign of the cross over my forehead, eyes, ears, mouth, heart and hands, praying, “Father God, I ask that you would put your Spirit on my mind, my eyes, my ears, my mouth, my heart and my hands that I may worthily proclaim the gospel of Christ.”
I also typically invoke the intercession of Sts. Dominic (I’m a Dominican at heart), Tertius (Paul’s scribe), Athanasius (yay Trinitarian orthodoxy), Anthony of the Desert (writing is mighty lonesome work), Francis de Sales (patron of writers), G.K. Chesterton (not a saint—yet—but one of my heros), and the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Often, as the afternoon wears on, I will go for my constitutional. This is when I pray either the Rosary or else a modified Rosary featuring the prayers of the Mercy Novena. Praying the Rosary tends to be a mind-wandering experience for me, but that’s more or less what “meditation” seems to be, so I don’t sweat it too much. I try to stay somewhere in the general vicinity of the Mystery being contemplated, but not to worry too much if the Mystery leads me on to lots of other things.
Finally, we at Chez Shea use the daily office as it comes to us via Magnificat, a handy dandy little devotional you can get here.
I wish my devotional life was more impressive, but there it is. I will endeavor to make atonement for it by not tagging any further schlemiels and putting them on the spot.