Powerful Prayers for all Occasions
by Fr Johny Panamthanam SSP
(St Pauls Publication, 58/24th Road, TPS III, Bandra West, Mumbai 400 050)
A drunk went into a Catholic church to do the Stations of the Cross, but since he reached after they were over, he decided to do them anyway by himself, so he went from one station icon on the wall to the next. Only, he did them backwards, starting from the 14th station and moving in the reverse order. The priest who had come to lock up the church found him looking at the first one, and looking gleeful. So he asked him the reason. The man said, "I'm just so happy that he's getting better and better."
I too laughed when I heard it the first time. But it also caused me to reflect a bit. How often have I attended the Way of the Cross, more because it is a ritual, and the box needs to be checked… just going through the motions. And yet, here was a man who, despite being drunk, was intently looking at Jesus… "contemplating the face of Christ". Those are the very words which St Pope John Paul II uses to describe "Prayer".
Prayer – the lifeline of the believer; our way of communicating with our Lord. It is also one of the three pillars Holy Mother Church invites us to build our Lenten Journey on; the other two being fasting and works of mercy. But many of us struggle with prayer – what to pray, how to pray, distractions in prayer, discipline with prayer time … the list goes on. And the world, the flesh and the devil play their part in keeping us away from prayer. How we would love to find a way to just get started. Simply. Easily. Effectively. Praying with the Scripture. Praying with the Church.
Fr Johny Panamthanam SSP comes to our aid, with a wonderful compilation of prayers in his book aptly titled, 'Powerful Prayers for All Occasions'. With a variety of themes, novenas and prayers of consecration, Fr Johny SSP gives us a veritable buffet of Christian prayers and formulae. But many may say – why do we need a formula, why do we need prayers ... we just talk to God. And I say you're possibly right… it is wonderful to be able to just talk to God, even more wonderful to be silent and just worship in His Presence; or pray the Lectio Divina. The Church offers her children so many wonderful traditions so that we can communicate with God. But these take time and effort, and we need to start somewhere.
Powerful Prayers for All Occasions is a wonderful starting point for those who, this Lent, want to dedicate a time for prayer, and don't know how or where to start. It is also a wonderful resource for those moments when words fail us, when the pain is too severe, and we don't know how to pray – with prayers for academic success, for physical healing, for the grace to forgive, for a safe journey, for a safe delivery, for success in business… the Powerful Prayers for All Occasions is a wonderful compilation of over 150 prayers and novenas.
Fr Johny SSP provides something for everyone – the priest, the mother, the student, the sick, the bereaved, the desperate. My favourites were the prayers for the Infilling of the Holy Spirit and the prayers for inner healing and deliverance – all authentic Catholic prayers with the Imprimatur of Bishop Francis Kalist.
I congratulate St Paul's for publishing this veritable treasure chest of fine jewels, and Fr Johny SSP for meticulously compiling and categorising them in such an easy-to-use and easy-to-pray manner.
As we journey with Jesus this Lenten season and always, may prayer always spring from our heart, encouraged by St Paul who exhorts us in 1 Thessalonians 5:17, to "Pray without ceasing".