Side Convo: Your Lessons on Reflection & Prayer

It strikes me that prayer & reflection are central to a life of high self-awareness. It’s a powerful element in our arsenal of good living. Be it the bad stress created by COVID-19, or stage 4 cancer, job issues, relationships, etc.  Or the good stress of something mildly to deeply enjoyable.

I am very curious about your lessons on prayer and reflection.
  • How often do you do it?
  • Is it conversational for formal?
  • Is it explicitly with your God or higher entity, or more general, a reflective discussion with yourself, or both?
  • What do you most often say or do?
  • What’s your habit when there’s a “big moment” coming in the next week, day, hour, or most importantly, in the next minute?
    • I would often start a day, or go into a stressful moment by whispering, “Dear God, I pray I am with you in the baptism of today.” Baptism refers more to the act of plunging into a depth of water. The idea being, in my view God is always with me, but I may have a tendency to go it alone when I get stressed. The poem Footsteps in the Sand made me ponder this notion years ago.
  • Are there phrases that slip out of your mouth in good times and also in bad that you would share?
    • When I went to college and was wowed by a good looking girl (happened very, very often) I discovered myself saying, “Thank you God. Thank you God. Thank you God.” Why three times? I don’t know. I have since expanded it to the many things that mystify me – my boys, great food, an exquisite moment with someone or some people, etc.
But at my age I am pretty set in my ways, hence the desire to expand, hard as it will be. I am curious, how can I do it better?
More questions…
What do you find “works for you” in terms of prayer and reflection?
  • Is there a cadence: weekly, daily, hourly or other?
  • Is it spoken, or more done in written form?
  • Is there a time of day – mornings, end of day, something else?
  • Do you pray or reflect alone or with someone, or more than one person?
  • Do you follow the traditions of one of the formalized religions? If so, what do you like to do?
  • Do you have set prayers akin to the ones Catholics use?
  • Or do you have a different focus like Life, Mother Earth, or some higher being you choose.  Again, how does that come to life?
Some of my own observations
I’m NOT spending too much time praying
I find it’s easy to think I am over investing my time into prayer. But is that true?
  • The other day I challenged myself to look at the numbers, “Abe, in 24 hours how much time are you talking about? Okay so let’s look at the data.” I have timed myself saying the Catholic Rosary. On my own I can complete it in 17 minutes. Yes that’s zippy – – one may say too zippy. But, it’s only 1.1% of a 24 hour period. Seriously? 1.1% of a day is over investing?
There’s goodness in informal and formal approaches 
Yes, I do have fleeting comments to God all day long, every day. About worries, victories and mysteries. This started perhaps at 10 years of age, I think. That’s why I like and the quote by Elliott in the prior posting,
Dear God, I think about you sometimes even when I am not praying… Elliott
Yet, there’s a power to setting aside time.. to “pray.” Full on. No distractions.
Some memorized prayers are my favorite as they are so well written. Akin to an elegant, concise, & articulate poem.
But canned prayers carry risk: they let me day dream. Of grocery lists. Laundry. A joke by Trevor Noah. So many things. So I read the prayers out loud even though I know them by heart – it seems to help a lot to focus my mind.
One counter to day dreaming (if you can find ways to minimize this tendency) are that the benefits of prayer are very similar to mindful meditation. You have a focus, and then you lose it. You regain it. Each time you regain it, it’s akin to lifting weights and building muscle. In this case, of your mindfulness.
From Rome – it still has the fragrance of roses after 3 years
Copyright 2020 Abe Pachikara
Close-up of the necklace
Copyright 2020 Abe Pachikara
My Aunt Valsa brought this from Lourdes, France
Copyright 2020 Abe Pachikara
In this space is some of the holy water of Lourdes
Copyright 2020 Abe Pachikara
A new habit: The Catholic Rosary

I find prayer needs to be a habit. Twyla Tharp, in her excellent book, “The Creative Habit” mentions that you don’t negotiate with your habits. For decades she has woken up at 5:45 am, changed, hopped in the cab and headed to the dances studio. Boom.

To my surprise, I discovered, or created, a non-negotiable habit: the Catholic Rosary. Frankly, it seemed too much to do daily. The ~20 mins sounds like forever. Now, due to my cancer treatment, we invited others to join, and join daily. Inviting others took away my chance to negotiate with myself. Later? Earlier? What about dinner? Etc., etc. All of that went away.
We meet via Zoom at 6 pm PST. That let’s folks in other time zones in the US join.
The varying lag times for the audio is not ideal. Yet, there’s magic in doing it together. I cannot pin down exactly why.
I am still pretty new to a Rosary – I have done it partially right / wrong for decades. Here’s a cryptic summary followed by the prayers, as an FYI:
A = Apostle’s Creed
O = Our Father
H = Hail Mary
G = Glory Be
My = Mysteries – said before each “decade”
M = Memorare
HHQ = Hail Holy Queen
P = Prayer to St. Peregrine, Patron Saint of Cancer
The overall flow of the prayers is as follows:
  • Apostle’s Creed, Our Father, 3 Hail Mary’s, then Glory Be. That is: A,O,H,H,H,G. I like to say a possible Aramaic version of Our Father for this instance. See below.
  • Then 5 “decades” of: declaring one mystery based on the day of week, then 1 Our Father, 10 Hail Mary’s, and a Glory Be. That is: My, O,H,H,H,H,H,H,H,H,H,H,G
  • Ending with Memorare, Hail Holy Queen and St. Peregrine: M, HHQ, P
Two points on “how” it is carried out:
  • Text in black is what the person leading a section says, text in blue is said by everyone else.
  • Each decade can and usually is said by a new person
The Apostles’ Creed
I believe in God, the father almighty, creator of heaven and earth,
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again.
He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Holy Catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.
Our Father
ARAMAIC VERSION (Not sure of the veracity of this but I like it and say it for the 1st instance)
“Oh Thou, from whom the breath of life comes,
who fills all realms of sound, light and vibration.
May Your light be experienced in my utmost holiest.
Your Heavenly Domain approaches.
Let Your will come true – in the universe just as on earth.
Give us wisdom for our daily need,
detach the fetters of faults that bind us,
like we let go the guilt of others.
Let us not be lost in superficial things,
but let us be freed from that what keeps us off from our true purpose.
From You comes the all-working will, the lively strength to act,
the song that beautifies all and renews itself from age to age.
Sealed in trust, faith and truth. Amen”
Our Father, Who art in heaven
Hallowed be Thy Name;
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil. Amen.
Hail Mary
Hail Mary, full of grace,
the Lord is with you.
Blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death.
Glory Be
Glory be to the Father,
and to the Son,
and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning,
is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.
The Joyful Mysteries (Monday and Saturday) 
1st joyful mystery – The Annunciation of the Angel to Mary 
2nd joyful mystery – The visitation of Mary to Saint Elizabeth 
3rd joyful mystery – The nativity of Jesus in Bethlehem 
4th joyful mystery – The presentation of Jesus to the Temple 
5th joyful mystery – The finding of Jesus in the Temple 
The Sorrowful Mysteries (Tuesday and Friday)
1st sorrowful mystery – The Agony of Jesus in the garden
2nd sorrowful mystery – The scourging of Jesus at the pillar
3rd sorrowful mystery – The Crowning with Thorns
4th sorrowful mystery – The Carrying of the Cross
5th sorrowful mystery – The crucifixion and death of Jesus
The Glorious Mysteries (Wednesday and Sunday)
1st glorious mystery – The Resurrection of Jesus Christ
2nd glorious mystery – The Ascension of Jesus to Heaven
3rd glorious mystery – The Descent of the Holy Ghost 
4th glorious mystery – The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven
5th glorious mystery – The Coronation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Heaven and Earth
The Luminous Mysteries (Thursday)
1st Luminous Mysteries – The Baptism of Jesus
2nd Luminous Mysteries – The wedding of Cana
3rd Luminous Mysteries – The proclamation of the Kingdom of God
4th Luminous Mysteries – The Transfiguration
5th Luminous Mysteries – The institution of the Eucharist
Remember O Most Gracious Virgin Mary,
that never was it known
that anyone who fled to your protection,
implored your help or sought your intercession,
was left unaided.
Inspired with this confidence,
I fly onto you O Virgin of Virgins, my Mother;
to you I come; before you, I stand,
sinful and sorrowful,
O Mother of the Word incarnate,
despise not my petitions;
but in your mercy hear and answer me.
Hail, Holy Queen
Hail, holy Queen, Mother of mercy,
hail, our life, our sweetness, and our hope.
To you we cry, the banished children of Eve;
to you we send up our sighs,
mourning and weeping in this land of exile.
Turn, then, most gracious advocate,
your eyes of mercy toward us;
lead us home at last
and show us the blessed fruit of your womb, Jesus:
O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.
Pray for us, oh Holy Mother of God,
That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
St. Peregrine, Patron Saint of Cancer
St. Peregrine, whom Holy Mother Church has declared Patron of those suffering from Cancer, I confidently turn to you for help in my present sickness. I beg your kind intercession. Ask God to relieve me of this sickness, if it be his Holy Will. Plead with the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of Sorrows, whom you loved so tenderly and in union with whom you have suffered the pains of Cancer, that she may help me with her powerful prayers and loving consolation.
But if it should be God’s Holy Will that I bear this sickness, obtain for me courage and strength to accept these trials from the loving hand of God with patience and resignation, because he knows what is best for the salvation of my soul. St. Peregrine, be my friend and patron. Help me to imitate you in accepting suffering, and to unite myself with Jesus Crucified and the Mother of Sorrows, as you did. I offer my pains to God with all the love of my heart, for his glory and the salvation of souls, especially my own. Amen.
O great St. Peregrine, you have been called “The Mighty,” “The Wonder-Worker,” because of the numerous miracles which you have obtained from God for those who have had recourse to you. For so many years you bore in your own flesh this cancerous disease that destroys the very fiber of our being, and who had recourse to the source of all grace when the power of man could do no more. You were favored with the vision of Jesus coming down from His Cross to heal your affliction. Ask of God and Our Lady, the cure of the sick whom we entrust to you.
(Pause here and silently recall the names of people who
are alive and have cancer for whom you are praying)
Aided in this way by your powerful intercession, we shall sing to God, now and for all eternity, a song of gratitude for His great goodness and mercy. Amen.
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