By Sr. Jane McCarthy
Much of our daily life is involved in routine things. The activities that we do each day can be prayers. Also, our daily life is where we encounter God in others. But, in order for this to occur, we have to see with new eyes.
Some of our life each day can be boring, tedious or physically or mentally difficult, but also it can be prayer. Sometimes work that is boring or tedious can be prayer. Sometimes work that is tedious or boring is work that we can do without much attention. We can give our attention then to God — a time of silent prayer, or simply realize that we are in the presence of God. If our work involves being in the presence of others frequently, here is another opportunity to meet God in the presence of the other. This is very important for parents of the family. Possibly, you are the only person that day that speaks with your children with respect or who gives them a smile.
People who work with the earth (as those who harvest its products, fruits and vegetables; as those who sow seeds; as those who are gardeners or landscapers) have many opportunities to marvel at the glorious creation that God gives us. In my experience the people who are close to the earth have a natural path or way to be close to God. They have the opportunity to help others.
If one has work that needs much attention, one can take a moment before beginning the work to give thanks to God, to ask for God’s help, to remember that one is in the presence of God.
All of this is a way of praying. Another way to pray is to give thanks to God during the day — for the good things, for the things we do not understand; for the good people; for the things that are not so good; for all.
When one thinks of doing good for someone or to get rid of something bad, probably it is the whisper of the Holy Spirit. We need to learn to recognize such inspirations and to follow them. We need to learn to recognize the Holy Spirit in our lives and listen to the Spirit.
The Spanish language has many sayings, such as: “Thanks be to God,” “If God wills,” “May God bless you,” “God first,” etc., that can help remind of God. The English language used to have more of them, but many have gone out of common usage. The Latino culture also has the custom of small altars in the home which can remind them of God. That is not very common in the ordinary home today.
Yes, there are formal prayers, which we learned as children, such as the Our Father, the Hail Mary and others. We learned to attend Mass, to receive a sacrament. But we can use informal prayer all day. All of these types of prayer are important to unite us with God.
(Sr. Jane McCarthy, OSF, served as director of Latino Ministry at Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace Parish in Clinton, prior to retirement.)