Friday, April 14, 2006

Prayers and Chants

My sister sent me a e-mail with the following written in the Subject line:

Please give my your favorite prayers and tell me what culture, source, religion it's from!

I responded with :

When I find myself in times of trouble,
mother Mary comes to me,
speaking words of wisdom, let it be.
And in my hour of darkness
she is standing right in front of me,
speaking words of wisdom, let it be.

Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be.
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be.

-The Beatles song Let It Be

Hail Mary, full of grace.
The Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou amongst women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death.

-Catholic rosary chant

If we bless our bodies, they will bless us.
-Gloria Steinem

I know my life is peaceful and harmonious.
I see the larger patterns within and around me.
I open up to new insights.
I affirm the strength of bamboo.
I am an evolving soul.
I am one with Tao.
I respect myself and the process.
I harmonize with nature and all others in my world.
I accept greater peace in my life now.
And so it is.

-Diane Dreher, The Tao of Inner Peace

She replied:

They are so beautiful. Colleen, would you mind giving me a paragraph about what they mean to you, why you are drawn to it and what it has brought to you? They give me so much peace reading them.

This sounded like a good blog entry to me so here are my answers to her questions:

Hail Mary
Hail Mary was my favorite prayer when I was a child. But instead of saying:

pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death

I would say:

pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our need

I think I latched on to this prayer because everything else about the Catholic religion scared the bejesus out of me. For me, as a child, the whole church experience seemed to be one big test that could only end up in failure. I was afraid of the crucifix with its image of a half naked, bleeding, dying man. I was afraid of the priests and the nuns. I was afraid of God. All of those people seem to be judging me and there was no way in heaven that I could measure up to what they expected from me. Then I found the statute of the Virgin Mary and fell in love. This was the first face I saw that did not seem to be judging me so I prayed to her. Praying to her brought me comfort. The only formal prayer to her that I knew at the time was the Hail Mary so that was the one I would start with when I knelt down. This prayer is my link to the first time I felt part of something spiritual inside a church.

Let It Be
A song about Mother Mary is always going to get my attention but I also like the message in this song. Let It Be tells me that I am never really alone and that whatever I think is unbearable at the time will pass if I remember to let it be, let go and move on.

Gloria Steinem
If we bless our bodies, they will bless us. What does it mean? If we are good to our bodies, they will be good to us? If we do not hate our bodies, they will stay healthy? If we are happy with our bodies, we will be happy with ourselves? If we are happy with ourselves, we are blessed?

I like the gentleness of this affirmation. I like the way it circles outward like the ripples of a pebble in a pond. I like the peaceful feeling I get inside me when I say the words.

Actually, I am drawn to these prayers and chants because they all give me a peaceful feeling inside when I repeat the words to myself. They calm my mind. They bring me out of myself and into myself at the same time. They bring me serenity.

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