Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Honoring Saint Ann

July 18, 2006

Our annual parish novena to our patron Saint Ann begins today. Please know that, among a list of special intentions, I offer the novena also for you and your intentions so if you have a special need just mention to it to God and know that you are lifted up in this special prayer. An extra special prayer remembrance for all the Anns/Annes, Sisters and sisters.

In this parish, the novena is, in my experience, different from those novenas I was familiar with growing up in northern New Jersey. Those novenas seemed, at the time, supplanted to the annual street fairs that accompanied them. Here and now, the annual novena is more like a parish mission or parish retreat.

This year, our pastor is the Novena Director, and personally I think it's perfect timing.

His focus for the first day, Saint Ann as a Woman of Prayer, was really thoughtprovoking. He began with the gospel reading of the Visitation but drew our attention to it in a different way. Usually our attention goes to the Magnificat as the prayer, but he illustrated how if prayer is an attitude reflecting a relationship with God, the entire passage teaches us the different aspects of being a pray-er.

He noted that first there is the "going to," then the greeting, then the listening, then the asking "how," and then the praising and giving thanks. Truthfully, I had not looked at the gospel as having all those parts, but I found it a really powerful illustration while at the same time he pointed out that there is not a magical or required formula for prayer.

From that introduction he went on to note the moments in Ann's life that must have pushed her deeper into prayer, moments that really show Ann as a model of faith for grandmothering and mothering in our own time.

That led to a reflection on "what prayer is," "how the parish supports prayer," the call to be pray-ers (and think too prayers since prayers are the expression of the relationship with The Holy), and whether/how God answers prayers.

It was a very powerful beginning to an annual event that is not billed as a parish retreat but definitely experienced as one.


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