TORONTO - With the busy schedule of a university student, Vanessa Nicholas-Schmidt was finding it difficult to fit prayer into her regular routine during her school years.

To remedy this, her spiritual director suggested she get creative, recommending a variety of different prayer styles.

“She said Jesus is not expecting the friendship to look any one way,” said Nicholas-Schmidt, program director at Faith Connections, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto’s youth ministry. “How can we talk to Jesus in a way that fits in with our lives no matter where we are on the journey?”

Published in Vatican

PICKERING, ONT. - Believers in every religion and through every century of human history have done something they can’t quite describe, justify or do without. They pray.

They may meditate, contemplate, recite, babble or immerse themselves in silence. They may seek solitude or seek company to pray with others. They may follow the rules of a liturgy, improvise or seek a simple, direct encounter with God.

Prayer can be rote execution of routine, woven into the fabric of daily life. Or it can be a unique, creative leap into transcendence. Prayers may be led by a spiritual master, immersed in custom and culture or reach for an unconstrained, individual expression of the spiritual.

Published in Features

One of the reasons we need to pray is so that we don’t lose heart. We all do sometimes. We lose heart whenever frustration, tiredness, fear and helplessness in the face of life’s humiliations conspire together to paralyse our energies, deaden our resiliency, drain our courage and leave us feeling weak in depression.

Poet Jill Alexander Essbaum gives us a poignant example in her poem, “Easter.” Reflecting on the joy that Easter should bring into our lives, she shares that Easter can instead be a season of defeat for us because its celebration of joy can highlight the shortcomings of our own lives and leave us with the feeling that “Everyone I’ve ever loved lives happily just past my able reach.”

And this feeling can drive us to our knees, in bitterness or prayer; hopefully prayer.

Published in Fr. Ron Rolheiser