How Catholics pray

Lucy Kaakyo says when you love someone, you want to be in conversation with that person all the time.

WCR PHOTO | THANDIWE KONGUAVI

Lucy Kaakyo says when you love someone, you want to be in conversation with that person all the time.

February 22, 2016
THANDIWE KONGUAVI
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

Lucy Kaakyo

60, EDMONTON

Parish: Annunciation

Occupation: Coordinator, Office of Lay Apostolate

Lucy Kaakyo prays a lot. She prays each morning as she wakes up. She prays on her way to work, saying the rosary with her sister during the drive.

At work, she has a prayer book by her desk, which has morning, midday and evening readings and prayers she follows throughout the day. At lunch, she joins her colleagues at the Edmonton Archdiocese for the Angelus, and stays behind with one co-worker for further devotions and prayer.

She goes to Mass every day, and she prays with a charismatic prayer group in her parish. She is a member of Opus Dei, an international group she joined while still in her native Uganda, and she can spend hours in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament in the chapel.

But to Kaakyo, even this frequency of prayer is not a lot.

"When you love somebody, do you want to stay with that person all the time? Do you want to be in conversation with that person all the time? That's exactly what it is when you love God," she said.

"That human being, who is a creature, can fail you but God will never fail. That individual can be disappointed in you and may not even want to forgive you at first, but God is eager to forgive you at any cost. He died for us on the cross."

"Life can bring such tough things in your life that if you don't have prayer, you can just lose it. The sooner you start, the better because that way you can equip yourself for the battle.

"I've gone through so many challenges and if it wasn't for prayer and God's intervention, I wouldn't have made it."


Ron Krausert

Ron Krausert

57, EDMONTON

Parish: St. Edmund

Occupation: Advertising Consultant

For Ron Krausert, the biggest challenge in prayer is talking less and listening more. "God has told me, in life and prayer, talk less and listen more and you'll be happier. It's easier said than done.

"I have to remember I have two ears and one mouth so I can to listen twice as much in prayer as I speak."

When he was young, he heard the theory of his faith in Catholic school and in church. He learned that God made us and that God loved us, but it took him a long time to get that past his head and into his heart.

"I sometimes had issues with my earthly father which affected my relationship with my Heavenly Father, trusting him."

Through the loving encouragement of his mother, he slowly began trusting that his Heavenly Father truly loved him, and quickly after that, he began hearing God's still voice.

In prayer, he remembers the Lord telling him: "Ron, I'm healing your low esteem. You're OK. In fact, you're beautiful."

When he struggled with purity and masturbation as a teen, God said to him: "Cleanse yourself and follow me."

"When you listen in prayer you can hear these things and you need them. Anyone, if you have issues in life, God can heal," he said.

"When I listen I can hear him speak and so can others. Every Catholic, every Christian is meant to listen, is meant to hear him and meant to be still and know he is Lord."


Sister Mary Clare Stack

Sister Mary Clare Stack

69, EDMONTON

Parish: St. John the Evangelist

Occupation: Social Worker

It is prayer, specifically the prayer of the Blessed Virgin Mary, that led Sister Mary Clare Stack to make the most important decision of her life: To join the Ursulines of Jesus. But it was only after she joined the congregation that she developed a strong prayer life and personal relationship with Christ.

Because of founder Louis-Marie Baudouin's profound love of Sacred Scripture, the sisters were introduced to praying with the word of God. Stack imagined herself in the midst of Bible stories, connecting with and discovering Jesus and being a part of the Scripture scenes and Gospel story.

Because of the congregation's incarnational charism - recognizing God present in people and circumstances and events - the sisters were also led to value silence. Long periods of silence in retreat helped a young Stack deepen her spiritual relationship with Christ, although it was not easy at first.

"I thought I was going to go snakey because I didn't know what to do with the silence. And I think today that is such a need in our world to sit literally empty-handedly before God and say nothing."

Because of an incredibly difficult time in her religious life, her prayer life grew even more.

"At that moment there was a heck of a lot of suffering and God wasn't going to just turn off that suffering because I asked. I began to understand that God is not just a 'Give-Me God.'"

A parish priest invited her to pray each day, "Not my will but yours be done."

"I prayed that for six months and it's like this peace came through me and it was a sense of 'OK, I know the one in whom I've placed my trust.' The Last Supper discourse became so real: 'I will not leave you.'

"There was sort of an evolution in trust, in waiting, in recognizing that I'm not in control of my life. It just continues to evolve."


Joanne Cook

Joanne Cook

49, Sherwood Park

Parish: OLPH

Occupation: Dental Hygienist

Joanne Cook laughs heartily every time she recalls her daughter Lucy singing Our Father at a family event many years ago.

"She was like two and a half, maybe three, and it was so funny because she sang forever in front of a bunch of family, hands in her pants, and then it ended with a big Aaaaaaaaaamen."

Cook herself learned to pray with children's cassettes when she was growing up, and she passed those prayers along to her own children.

It was important, she said, to teach her kids how to pray just as she was taught, so that they could develop a relationship on their own with Jesus.

"We always prayed. My mom was the one who mostly instilled that in us."

Even today, when she is in distress, she goes back to a "happy place" from her childhood in her mind. When she was growing up in Lac La Biche, on summer nights the kids would swim off a small dock by the lake.

"It's kind of a happy place for me so if I'm feeling kind of sad or needing to reset myself I go to that happy place, the Lord sitting beside me and we just sit there, smell the breeze and listen to the water."

Nowadays, her biggest challenges in prayer are the many distractions in everyday life. She prays sporadically throughout the day, often when in need or if somebody needs help.

"If I drive past a car accident I say a quick prayer in my head."

Cook admits she can never stay awake long enough to say the rosary, but her most intimate moments of prayer are in her bedroom before bed.

"I talk about how grateful I am for my family, friends, health and all the other stuff.

"I say the Our Father at nighttime and try to apply it to my day so if I have trespassed, I try to think where that might have been or if somebody has trespassed against me I try to let it go. If I think too long though, I fall asleep."


Maria Chrunik

Maria Chrunik

49, Wetaskawin

Parish: Sacred Heart

Occupation: Pastoral Assistant

Growing up Catholic, Maria Chrunik prayed mostly rote prayers as a child and in her teen years. It is when she met her husband George that she began to search for something deeper in her prayer life and really desired to know her faith.

"I think one of the beauties of the Catholic Church is there is such a deep deposit of faith. Every soul could be fed here."

Just as one opens the refrigerator and has the choice to eat healthy food, junk food or nothing at all, "it's the same with our spiritual life," she learned.

"Somebody told me last week they were feeling hungry and dry. I said what are you eating? We could choose to nourish our spirit with what the Catholic Church gives us, with junk or choose not to eat."

Chrunik spent time in adoration every day and about 10 years into her marriage, she attended a Life in the Spirit seminar where "something incredible changed" in her prayer life.

"Instead of just a head knowledge of God, it became a relationship with Christ." Her prayer life has become extremely deep and rich because she opened up her heart and let Christ in.

"Prayer becomes easy when you discover who you're conversing with."

Like marriage, it takes sacrifice, she said. "Perseverance is very important."

Chrunik eats spiritually every day when she wakes up in the morning by spending one to two hours in prayer with her husband George. Usually in conversational prayer, she asks the Holy Spirit to lead her, spends time with Scripture and in journaling. Sometimes, they will say a rosary for their children.

"Many times, just being together in the silence of a room with God present is the way we'll begin our day."


Jessica Logan

Jessica Logan

17, SPRUCE GROVE

Parish: Holy Trinity

Occupation: Student

Like most young people, Jessica Logan faces everyday pressure from school, tests, worries about her friends or even the big party coming up on the weekend. She has learned to get through life's battles - large and small - with prayer.

"At this point in my life almost all of my prayers tend to be prayers of petition: for the people around me that I love or just for little things like if I have a test coming up that's giving me a lot of anxiety.

"Some of my most focused moments when I'm studying are after I take a minute to stop, step back, pray, ask for some guidance for some support. Then I always find that I'm rejuvenated and I could focus a little bit better."

Logan typically prays every night before bed, anytime she can grab a moment while driving and even in the shower. She tries to say Grace before meals, but because her family is not Catholic and not particularly religious, this "tends to be a quiet moment for myself."

The most fruitful prayer times she finds are with her best friends. She sometimes prays with her boyfriend and with his family. She prays with her close friends, including one of her best friends who was her sponsor when she was confirmed last year.

At school, she prays at lunchtime with the Christian fellowship group started by chaplain Mike Landry.

"Community is incredibly important. 'When two or more are gathered in my name I'm with you.' It's good to get other perspectives and it gives you a chance to share your perspectives and bring your petitions together."

Logan's prayer life is in its infancy, but she is already seeing the fruits.

"Before about Grade 10, I didn't understand the importance of it. I didn't see it as having an impact on my life. But just seeing the calmness and the clarity it's given me in the last few years is a pretty big motivator to find more quiet moments to be present."


Blain Allan

Blaine Allan

51, EDMONTON

Parish: St. Theresa

Occupation: Hospital Chaplain

For Blaine Allan, praying constantly, as St. Paul directed, is not necessarily going to the chapel, getting on your knees and bowing every moment. Like Christ, who had a relationship so deep and so passionate that he called God "Father," he says it's about knowing that the Father is with him constantly.

"That the sacred is right within you and within the person that you're with. And that's always."

Working in emergency, intensive care and critical care units at Covenant Health Grey Nuns Hospital can be busy and intense.

As a result, Allan finds himself in the hospital chapel eight to 10 times a day in prayer, to allow himself time to breathe and recognize again that Christ is with him.

No matter what has happened in each event, the spirit of peace and love and comfort is there for him and with him.

"I go back and forth in that rut constantly because of the fact that I'm human and still learning. To realize that I'm imperfect, that God understands that and loves me anyway, is a profound gift that I absolutely, profusely love my God more for."

Seeing patients in crisis each day, sometimes angry, sometimes confused, Allan is reminded not only of his own humanity but that the person he is going to see and pray with is also human.

He prays before he enters each room that he not get caught up with the event itself and the tragedy being experienced. He strives to remember that the Spirit of Christ is within him and within the other person.

He will field many prayer requests from money to safety and health, but with the help of the Holy Spirit, Allan tries to be still and listen to the deepest needs of the other person.

"If we knew that God loved us and if we knew the unconditional, absolute, profound love God has for us, we'd realize we are in need of nothing. We have everything," said Allan.

"Then we'd be at peace - that peace that Christ talks about beyond human understanding."

"The deepest prayer is we could find that truth and that absolute understanding of our relationship with God. Then, we'd realize that we're at that peace that Christ desires for us."