Meditation has been used for many years by Christians, as a form of prayer and worship and I am delighted to introduce Peter Short who has been running the Christian Meditation Group in Nottingham, for over 11 years, to tell us a bit more about this style of prayer.
Why do you pray? - I quite like the old catechism definition of prayer, which says ‘Prayer is the raising of the mind and the heart to God.’ So I pray in order to raise my mind and my heart to God. It is interesting that it is the mind and the heart that we raise when we pray. I use my mind in prayer when I say prayers to God, private prayers and liturgical prayers, when I read Sacred Scripture and ponder its meaning. When I meditate, I am praying the ‘prayer of the heart’, as it is sometimes called. I am silent, still and simple, laying aside thoughts whenever they come along, getting myself out of the way so that the Spirit can pray within me.
How does Our Lady fit in with your faith? - Our Lady is the mother of the church and of all believers, and the first disciple of the Lord. She is pre-eminently a woman of faith and she points us towards him (‘do what he tells you’, she says in the Cana miracle story). So as a mother, Mary helps me to have faith in her Son and to follow him and his teaching.
Do you have any favourite prayers to Our Lady? - I incorporate prayer to Our Lady into my praying the Morning and Evening Prayer of the Church. In Ordinary time, I pray the Hail Mary or Hail Holy Queen at the end of Morning or Evening Prayer. In Eastertide I pray the Regina Coeli – Queen of Heaven, Rejoice, Alleluia, for He whom you were worthy to bear, Alleluia, has risen as he said, Alleluia, pray for us to God, Alleluia. And there is a lovely prayer, not so well known, Alma Redemptoris Mater, which I like to pray during Advent and Christmastide: Mother of Christ, hear thou thy people’s cry, Star of the deep and portal of the sky, Mother of Him who thee from nothing made, sinking we strive and call to thee for aid, O by that joy which Gabriel brought to thee, thou, Virgin first and last, let us thy mercy see.
Why is faith important to you? - Faith, we are taught, is one of the three theological virtues, the other two being hope and love. Although love is the greatest virtue, I find it interesting that Jesus, in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke at least, seems to prize faith even above love. So many times, he says to someone he has just healed, ‘your faith has made you well’. So, if I am to take Jesus at his word, it is my faith (planted in me by God) that makes me well, that heals me and restores me to wholeness. For me, faith is about relationship and commitment. I am to be faithful in my relationships to myself (a faithful life begins with self-acceptance), to others and to God. And it is a journey, as I learn, by God’s grace, to be more and more faithful. My faith grows as I learn to leave self behind and turn towards other in love.
You run a Meditation Prayer Group in Nottingham, tell me about what that entails and have you found it useful in your faith journey? - Meditation is the most important part of my prayer life, as I seek to leave self behind and be present to the God who is always present to me. I see it as a gift that I have been given, and so I want to do all I can to help others discover this gift for themselves. This is why I started some eleven year ago the Christian meditation group that meets at Sacred Heart Church, Nottingham. And although there is a commitment involved in this (mainly turning up week by week to lead the meeting), I find that what I get back - ever deepening friendships with those who come, a deeper sense of the value and purpose of meditation - far outweighs what I am able to give myself. God is never outdone in generosity.
If you could offer any advice to someone who was struggling with the act of prayer, what advice would you give? - I think I would first ask how this person prays (in order to discover something of the nature of the struggle) and then perhaps suggest that they might try meditation. Many people (myself included) tell of reaching a kind of impasse with regard to ‘sayings prayers’ in the traditional sense (i.e. knowing there is something more to prayer but not quite knowing what it is), and of finding a new sense of freedom in their relationship with God when they discover the practice of meditation. There is a real sense that in meditation we give up any struggle and simply place ourselves before God for God to act upon us.
The Gospel Butterfly
Devotion to Our Lady
Our Lady has long been prayed to in times of sorrow and distress. As the mother of Our Lord Jesus she understands people who are suffering, after having seen her only son crucified on the cross.
Praying the rosary daily, is a wonderful way to honour Our Lady and it can provide you with many graces. For more information about this please visit Rosary Benefits
As a women I feel it is important that my voice be heard, whether that is in my relationship with my boyfriend, my working life or my prayers to God. I feel that women have always had a real presence in the church and I would like to take this opportunity to highlight some of the women that continue to inspire me in my faith today:
As the mother of Jesus, Mary had a huge role to undertake and she did this willingly. Her faith in God and her son knew no bounds, and she has long been the source of prayer for people, who know that she can offer up our prayers to the Lord, so that our needs will be met according to His will.
Mary I feel, is the great communicator. Through her visions around the world, she has inspired many to pray and believe in the Lord.
The Tyburn Nuns have been a tower of strength and support to me personally by praying for me, during times that I have needed spiritual help. These nuns are devoted to Eucharistic Adoration, and if you would like to find out more about these wonderful nuns and the work they do please visit their website www.tyburnconvent.org.uk
Did you know that there is a reason that tabby cats have the letter M on their forehead? Well legend has it, that long ago when the precious baby Jesus was born, a cat gave birth to a litter of kittens in the same stable where Mary was in labour. Once the baby Jesus was born he was wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger but was still cold, so the mother tabby cat jumped into the manager and laid beside the baby Jesus to keep him warm. Mary the mother of Jesus was so touched by this cat's kindness that she petted the cat's head and from then on, all tabby cats have the letter M for Mary on their forehead.
Now I don't know how true this is, but as a cat owner, I know my cat likes to snuggle up to me to keep warm, so who knows?
Interview with Father Dave Heney
I am delighted to introduce Father Dave Heney who has agreed to be interview for my Gospel Buttefly website on the subject of Our Lady.
How did I become a priest?
I was inspired by both the bad example of our Pastor in the parish where I grew up and the wonderful example of our Associate Pastor at the same time. I learned from both how not to lead people to Christ and how to better lead people to Christ.
What is the best part of Priesthood?
Jesus came to show us how to find lasting happiness. I enjoy seeing that work in the lives of my parishioners. Most of all, I enjoy saying Mass, which is the main gift that Our Lord gave to us to celebrate every day. The Mass is especially powerful at the Sacrament of Marriage and at Funerals. when people are most open to the power of love in their life.
How is Our Lady important to me in my ministry?
The first time that Mary speaks is to ask a question! She therefore honors everyone who has ever had a question about God's plan for their life. God can only accomplish His plan once we have it understood, just as Mary requested, so that our choice to follow is as freely given as Mary's was. Her final words are spoken at Cana, "Do whatever He tells you." Every question we might have about our life can be answered by simply following what Our Lord says.
How is Mary important to the Church as a whole?
Marian Apparitions have occurred around the world and in every culture, showing the universal application of her gift of Our Lord for our lasting happiness.
What lesson can we learn from our study of Our Lady?
Mary always kept her promises. She had earlier taken a promise of celibacy to God and so questions the Angel Gabriel how God could now ask her now to conceive a child. However, once she understands, she accepts. We understand from this account that God always desires to work together with our human intellect to accomplish His mission of salvation. God never imposes His will on us, but always proposes, as Pope St. John Paul II famously said.
How did COME PRAY THE ROSARY HAPPEN?
Mr. George Esseff, of my former parish of St. Paschal Baylon in Thousand Oaks, California, came up with the idea. He asked Michael Emerson, a noted TV and Film Producer to make it happen, and filmed it at St. Paschal's.
What makes me happy?
I am the happiest when I can apply our Catholic faith to a problem that a parishioner might have, and see that it produced a good result. I am especially happy when the Mass is that event that changes a person's life.
What is my favorite prayer to Our Lady?
The Hail Mary says it all!
What are all the different devotions to Mary?
I think there are about 18 masses during the Liturgical year dedicated to different aspects of Mary's life. I am mainly focused on those, as a parish priest who celebrates these masses.
For information about Father Dave Heney, please visit DaveHeney.com