Why do you catholics say the same prayers every sunday?

My sister has been on a RANT the last fiew weeks. She left the church as a teenager (in fact, she was never even confermed) she joined this protestent church in adulthood that was made up of a bunch of ex-cathoics who decided that NO tradition was needed. Not even traditional music. For example. they play secular music and eat snacks during service :eek:

My other sister just put her daughter through first communion and is on the oppisate side of the fense. she is OBSESSED with tradition and memorizing prayers and looking good infront of the entire congragation. She’s been bragging about how her daughter has every prayer memorized. Unfortunately, her daughter has no real understanding of the meaning behind those prayers.

so my protestent sister has used this new situation as the launching pad for her rant (every time we talk) about how stupid it is that mass is the same thing every week. How she feels like the fly by the seat of my pants prayer is much better for church and is more uplifting. She said that every time she hears catholics praying in church, it sounds like they are just reciting a bunch of words and they aren’t praying with their hearts. She also says that Jesus never intended for people to just be caught up in a bunch of rituals. There isn’t just one way to do things.

Now I know this is not the right way to think, but I am no good at explaining things to her. She’s so caught up in that whole mega-nondenominational-fundamentelest-church mentality, I am really at a loss what to say. I dread every conversation with her because she dominates the whole thing with her rants.

I was thinking it would be good to get her a CD of some kind. She’s not much of a reader, so I thought listening to someone talk would be a good idea. (lord knows it would be good for her to be on the receiving end for a change)

can anyone reccomend a good CD that would

  1. hilight some of the history behind the mass
  2. give some of the scriptural references for the mass
  3. explain the importance of the prayers said in mass
  4. help the listener understand why it’s irrevelent what other people are thinking during mass and how that has no bearing on the truth behind the traditions.

obviously, all these questions are probably not answered on one single CD, but if there are a couple I can get that would help, that would be great.

Any ideas? My sister is a fairly simple person, so something with a bunch of huge fancy words would not be very affective. Something for the common man would be great.

ps my very sanity depends upon me at least getting her to see my point of view.

How does one improve upon perfection? When we pray we are simply joining in with the prayers of those in heaven. Besides, there is nothing stopping anyone from spontaneous prayers using almost any words anyone wishes. One can pray the prayers of the saints or one can pray the prayers inspired moment by moment or one can pray both. But when we are gathered with the saints and angels in common worship we are joining with their heavenly prayers. I think it is a trick of Satan to try to get God’s people to pray otherwise.


I agree with you 100%! But my sister thinks that people are not joining with the saints. she seems to be thinking that everyone is just reciting a bunch of words for the sake of reciting them and nothing more. She seems to put her own problems on the rest of the congragation. She says that when she’s doing that, she’s only focusing on what the next line is and trying to remember it and not contimplating the meaning behind it. It would be like memorizing the ingredent list on the side of the cerial box. meaningless and boring.

I want her to understand that this is how Christ intended for worship to be, but I don’t know where to start.

The Mary Foundation has many cds that they give away for FREE at catholicity.com/cds/. Included in the list is the CD “The Mass Explained” by Fr. Larry Richards. I seem to remember it being pretty good, although it has been a number of years since I last listened to it, so I can’t guarantee it is exactly what you’re looking for. In any case, the price is right! :slight_smile:

"The Lamb’s Supper by Scott Hahn is also a great book on the subject, if you’re looking for background info for yourself to help you talk to your sister. The book is also available on CD from Saint Joseph Communications (www.saintjoe.com). Here is the link to it. Here is another CD with the same title, though I’m not sure what the difference is. Scott Hahn also has another CD set called “Heaven’s Mass” which is in the same vein as the others.

Although I haven’t listened to any of them personally, I have read “The Lamb’s Supper” and it does an excellent job showing the beauty of the Mass and its rich liturgical tradition. Hope this helps!

thanks, I’ll check them out. In your opinion, is scott hahn easy or hard to understand in his book? I read Rome Sweet Home a while back and sometimes, he could get a little too uh what’s the word, smart, for me. Will someone with a fairly average intelect be able to understand his book? I’m always affraid of Hahn because of how smart he is.

And when I engage in spontaneous prayer (even alone) I’m self conscious and edit my prayer.

As far as memorized prayer the only time I really think about what I’m going to say next is when I’m learning a new prayer. After that I can contemplate the meaning of the words, each sentance, phrase and finally the meaning of the whole prayer. Sometimes I even read it when I have it memorized to give me new insight.

I know some people who are very good at spontaneous prayer. But I wonder if they simply enjoy using showy words and aren’t simply trying to impress others with their eloquence or out pray their neighbor.

Now if I were to suggest that to your sister I think she might be as offended as I am that she thinks that my praying memorized prayers is meaningless. Different strokes for different folks. Or, in the words of the Newsboys:

He worships while he grooves
She prays and barely moves
But they’re both reflecting pure devotion

And some go for broke
Like headless chicken folk
Inspiring jokes about poultry in motion:extrahappy:

Why don’t we just deal with a few of your issues in the meantime as well…?

A bunch of ex-catholics? right… and I’m the ex-pope. If they can name all seven sacraments of the Catholic Church, then i MIGHT consider them to have been a former catholic. There’s a big difference between sitting in a pew from time to time, and being catholic… something most ex-“catholics” don’t understand.

Try not to be so judgemental of your sister… just because someone is precise and likes to follow the tradition of the church does NOT mean that they are doing it simply to show off. And if your niece knows the words to prayers without understanding the meaning, perhaps that is where your job starts as an uncle… time to sit down with the kiddo and teach her a few things.

only a very unattentive person would ever think that mass is the same thing every week. The readings are different, the songs are different, the psalms are different, the liturgical prayers are different, the eucharistic prayer cycles through, the homily is different. Each week, about 70% of the mass is new for that week.

I would pose to your sister this question: “what makes her the authority of who is or isn’t praying with their hearts?” Honestly, where does she derive (from the bible or otherwise) a seat of judgement worthy of sitting in trial over others?

A second point to add: repeated prayer is mind clearing… it allows focus on the intent of the prayer MORE than just on the words. God knows our hearts and knows what we seek before ever we ask it… our Catholic prayer is MUCH more than just an outward expression… it is an inward reach towards our God as well.

Perhaps a point that might help your sister understand is that we pray as one Body, the Body of Christ, thus the prayers at Mass reflect this unity; it is not time for extemporaneous prayers (except on those occasions when the faithful are invited to offer prayers of petition - usually at daily Masses).

I’m not sure how it compares to “Rome Sweet Home” (as I haven’t gotten around to reading that one yet), but I found “Lamb’s Supper” to be very readable.

In my experience, all of Hahn’s Doubleday books are intended to be very accessible to a popular audience (“Rome Sweet Home” is published by Ignatius Press and “Lamb’s Supper” by Doubleday).

I once heard him remark that an 11 year old boy came up to him and told him how much he liked and understood the “Lamb’s Supper,” so much so that he had read through it twice! Perhaps it was an overly gifted child, but I think the point he was making is that it’s an accessible book. :slight_smile:

I have tried to ask my sister how she knows what everyone is thinking or how she knows what is in their hearts and she says that she can tell by the way they are talking that they are just reciting words. LIke to borg in star trek.

I don’t want to debate the other issue with my sister who is obsessed with tradition (although am an aunt, not an uncle :slight_smile: ) I am not judgemental of her, but I just wanted to make people understand what my protestent sister has as an example.

You make a good point about praying as one. However, what she will say in response is that she is praying in her heart along with the person who is praying out loud. She says that she finds this much more moving. the example she gave was when the war in iraq started and several people at her church took a turn on “stage” (that’s what I call it, ti’s certainly not an alter) praying for our troops and the presadent and stuff like that. Then, they had silent prayer time. Where as in a Catholic church, one would just go in and say the prayers that had already been assigned for that day and no meantion of iraq except maybe a quick “lord hear our prayer” right before the offering. I don’t know how to respond to that, except to remind her that oru church spans across the world, so our view is wider than one church standing on it’s own.

And yes, I know what you mean about real ex-catholics. But I do not know what else to call them. most of them used to go to mass, but now they started their own church.

Thank you. I guess if I can win on “are you smarter than a 5th grader?” then I should be in good shape :slight_smile:

Then you should ask her if it’s possible to pray in silence. by her logic, it is not, because if the words coming from the lips are the only indicators of the disposition of a person’s soul then silent prayer is completely ineffective. There is no way to judge from the outward statement what the inner sentiment is.

ah, more elegant proof about the fallacy of assumptions. My appologies.

Ah, well, “Lord hear our prayer” is stated in response to the prayers of the faithful, which are read by a member of the parish and echoed in the hearts of all the congregation. Why is it okay for her to pray along with someone else and not catholics? that’s a little hypocritical.

As to the second point: The war in Iraq is an important world event to US… but in the greater scheme of things, the war in Iraq is of little concern to, well, anyone. God’s concern for us is for our eternal wellbeing, not just our temporal health in this world. As such, the mass focuses more on the salvation of man rather than the current events column of the associated press. can your sister really blame the church for having a larger concern for the souls of mankind? If she says that’s wrong, point out how the bible states that we are to be “in the world, but not of the world”

I don’t know if it’s on CD or tape, but a book that I think helped my SIL (it may have influenced her move from Evangelicalism to Lutheranism when she developed a hunger for liturgy) was “Evangelical Is Not Enough” by Thomas Howard. Howard is a convert from Evangelicalism and his sister is Elizabeth Elliot, a famous Evangelical speaker. Here is the book description from Amazon:

In this deeply moving narrative, Thomas Howard describes his pilgrimage from Evangelicalism (which he loves and reveres as the religion of his youth) to liturgical Christianity. He soon afterward became a Roman Catholic. He describes Evangelicalism with great sympathy and then examines more formal, liturgical worship with the freshness of someone discovering for the first time what his soul had always hungered for. This is a book of apologetics without polemics. Non-Catholics will gain an appreciation of the formal and liturgical side of Catholicism. Catholics will see with fresh eyes the beauty of their tradition. Worship, prayer, the Blessed Virgin, the Mass, and the liturgical year are taken one after the other, and what may have seemed routine and repetitive suddenly comes to life under the enchanting wand of Howard’s beautiful prose. Howard unfolds for us just what occurs in the vision and imagination of a Christian who, nurtured in the earnestness of Protestant Evangelicalism, finds himself yearning for “whatever-it-is” that has been there in the Church for 2000 years. It traces Howard’s soul-searching and shows why he believes the practices of the liturgical Church are an invaluable aid for any Christian’s spiritual life. Reminiscent of the style and scope of Newman, Lewis and Knox, this book is destined to be a classic.

Not to change the subject, but I look at it from a different POV.

Most people sadly do NOT know how to pray. They think they do, but they don’t. To prove this point when this ‘issue’ comes up i ask. “If you were asked on the spot to bless the food at a big gathering, Would you know what to say.”

Most people respond with . well, um… I guess… I dunno…

Set prayers help people. When you don’t have to focus on WHAT to say, it helps you focus on what your saying.

That being said… No prayer should just be said as a going through the motions… My understanding God hates a lukewarm faith…

In Christ

Scot Hahn’s book is not that difficult but we tend to be an impatient people. It may take a bit of chewing but it is designed to be solid work but a book for the masses.

What your sister needs is that same that we all need. We need a conversion from self centeredness to Christ centeredness. When she stops criticizing the Church you know she is getting serious about her relationship with the Lord. St. John was rather blunt about this issue…“If you claim to love God but hate your neighbor you are a liar and the truth is not in you.” I don’t know if this passage from the First Epistle of John is exactly what you should show her first but at least you know from this what your sister’s problem is.

Maybe, besides reading Hahn’s book, select a prayer and break it down. The next time you get into a conversation show her step by step why this prayer means so much to you.

A prayer we chant at my Church during Easter goes like this in its second half “Shine in Splendor O New Jerusalem for the glory of the Lord is risen upon you, O Zion.” It is a very rousing tune and elevates me to heaven when I sing it.

Pick one that elevates you.


If she dominates conversations try email (although its a two edged sword and she can ignore you she also cant rant easily)

also try here

and here

Patrick Madrid Knows his stuff and it appears there’s a file on scripture and tradition (Haven’t listened to it myself)

note its the same site the Patrick Madrid link is just one of the people I wanted to point out because the first link is a long list.

PS my dad bought a realy huge Ipod (8 gig I think) and he keeps apologetics files on it and listens to them in the car.

Many people are confused about the nature and purpose of the liturgy.

The purpose of the liturgy is twofold:

  1. The glorification of God.
  2. The sanctification of his people.

Sometimes, people want to switch the order of these. The liturgy is not something that the Church has created by herself that her members voluntarily come together to do. If that were the case, then there would be a good argument for “doing different prayers” since it would be more entertaining, etc.

On the contrary, it is not enough to worship God. We have to worship him in the way he wants to be worshiped. Thus, the Church has received certain commissions from Christ himself, e.g., the commission to celebrate the Eucharist. The Church is not free to deviate from these mandates. The Church herself, through history, has enriched her liturgies with various expressions (primarily scriptural). We can’t discard what has been handed down to us.

Jesus also ate snacks during His service, so your sister is in good company here.

Let’s see what happened during that Last Supper.
Jesus seems to have said the standard blessings

Baruch ata adonai melech ha-olam ha-motsi lehem min ha-aritz
(Blessed art thou of God king of the universe, who brings forth bread from the Earth)

Baruch ata adonai melech ha-olam bore pere ha-gafen
(Blessed art thou of God king of the universe who created the fruit of the vine)

Then towards the end Psalms were sung.

So there seem to have been at least some set prayers.

firstly and most importantly, approach your sister in a spirit of humility and charity. if you do this, everything else will fall into place.

tell her that we use set prayers because God gave them to us and He wants us to use them to praise Him (as well as extemporaneous prayer and silent meditation). show her in the gospels of Luke and Mark where Christ gives the disciples the Lord’s prayer. this should impress her.

she should also know that the book of psalms is the prayer book of the ancient hebrews, and that the holy family including jesus and mary used it to pray. it is the perfect expression of praise to God, and it is all set prayers. (the psalms incidentally play a big role in our liturgy in the form of hymns.) a good book on this topic is “praying the psalms” by thomas merton; i recommend it because it is powerful, but short and to-the-point.

if you can get her to stop and think about some of these things, maybe then you can impress upon her the fact that the way we celebrate mass by reciting prayers, singing hymns and reading scripture goes back to the practices of the ancient christians, because their church is our church.

also, the mass does change from week to week according to the liturgical calendar. for example, the “gloria” hym isn’t sung and the word “allelulia” isn’t sung or said during lent to emphasize the penitential nature of the season. at the same time, as years turn into decades and decades into centuries, the “pilgrim” church is thought to progress in time and space, always moving forward in its journey toward God. so no two years are exactly the same.

your sister may not accept any of this, but at least you will have the satisfaction of having answered her question.

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