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472 • Part IV. Prayer: The Faith Prayed

Eastern Churches, litanies and hymns to the Mother of God are more

commonly prayed.

We do not pray to Mary in the same way we pray to God. In pray-

ing to Mary, we invoke her intercession on behalf of our needs, whereas

when we pray to God we ask him directly for gifts and favors.


Throughout Church history, saints have left a heritage of prayer “by the

example of their lives, the transmission of their writings,” and their con-

tinued prayers in heaven on our behalf. Numerous schools of spiritual-

ity, such as Benedictine, Franciscan, or Ignatian, have come down to us

as part of the heritage of the saints. This authentic diversity of spirituali-

ties is united by the Holy Spirit within the living tradition of the Church

(CCC, no. 2683).

Parents are the first teachers of prayer. Family prayer, practiced

on a daily basis, in which the children witness the prayer of adults clos-

est to them, is an excellent school of prayer. Priests and deacons have a

public responsibility to lead people in prayer with genuine reverence.

They should also teach people how to pray and encourage them by

their example.

Men and women religious who embrace the consecrated life pro-

fess a commitment to prayer. Their example and willingness to dedi-

cate themselves to Christ encourages us to pray with added fervor and

dedication. Lay ministers have a unique opportunity to encourage and

inspire the laity to incorporate prayer into their daily lives.

The lifelong religious education of Catholics at every level should

always include training in how to pray as well as having time set aside

for communal prayer. Prayer groups also have been admirable sources of

the contemporary renewal of prayer. Places for prayer include the parish

church, retreat centers, shrines, the home, and any situation in which

people can achieve sufficient concentration of mind and heart.