By Cassandra Smith
The Catholic Messenger
(Editor’s note: The following reflection placed first in The Catholic Messenger’s essay contest for students in grades seven through 12 in the Diocese of Davenport. Students were asked to respond to the question: How will you invite Christ into your life this Lent? Cassandra Smith, who submitted the winning entry, is a student in the eighth-grade religion class taught by Josh Lawlor at Our Lady of the River Parish in LeClaire. Runners-up were Erica Heiselman, also in the eighth-grade class of Our Lady of the River, and Ethan Schultz, 12, a student at Camanche Middle School in Camanche and a member of Prince of Peace Parish in Clinton.)
I pray everyday … or at least I try to. I say the basic prayers: the Our Father, the Hail Mary, the Glory Be, etc. I recite these prayers from memory and when I’ve finished with an “Amen,” I’m done. I move on to something else, completely forgetting what I had just said.
And if I do remember, I think, “It’s just a jumble of words. It doesn’t mean much anyway.”
When saying the prayers, I invite Christ in — but then I shut him out for the rest of the day.
He’s out of my mind. What I need to do is to think when I pray. Instead of reciting something I learned in kindergarten, I will work to feel what I am praying.
Yeah, sure: “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. Amen.” Those are just words put in an order in which they make logical sense. Moving on … NO! This Lent I will not do that. I will think about what I say. What does it really mean “world without end?” It means God is always there for us. It means God’s kingdom will always rule.
This Lent I will stop and consider the true meaning behind the words I am saying. Not only will I trust in Christ in a new way, by giving more time and attention to the words I use when I am praying, but I will also try to think of God at different times during the day. I usually pray at night, just before I go to bed. In the morning, my thoughts of Christ are gone. Throughout the day, I am so wrapped up in the world around me that I don’t consider the words I said the previous night about always being appreciative of God’s kindness and the gifts he presents to me each day.
Therefore, during Lent, I will say a prayer at lunch so that he is in my mind for the rest of the day, and so that I remember that the Lord is always with me. Even if I say a simple prayer in the morning, I can go through the day thinking and believing in God instead of going through the motions of an average teenage life. Because God made every person unique; no one is “average.” If I think of Christ and think of the words I use to honor him, maybe then I will remember that God is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.