Spontaneous Prayer
Spontaneous prayers are always beautiful and heartfelt, but when we join together as one in the traditional prayers, something happens that is even more beautiful: we become one.

We feel connected as one in prayers that our Lord and the Church give us to pray together, a deep spiritual unity as the beautiful  words roll off our tongues:  “Our Father . . . thy kingdom come . . . forgive us our trespasses . . . Hail Mary . . . blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus . . . Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and the Holy Spirit . . . amen.”  It is a beauty that surpasses our Spontaneous prayers. They make us forget our individual cares and concerns, unite us as one in love for our God and our faith, and unite us in peace of heart.

Not that Spontaneous praying is bad; and it has a place in the practice of the Church.  But it is ironic that so many in the Protestant world think that written prayers, recited alone or together, are dry memorization, and dead, without faith.  They are so only if the person is so.  Any kind of prayer, including Spontaneous prayer, can be dry and dead if done without feeling, without faith and attentiveness.

Many non-Catholics have questioned the ritual in Catholic liturgy.  It is common in Evangelical Protestant literature to encounter references to dead, rote worship, empty or stifling ritual, which is always a reference to liturgical worship.

People who grew up in liturgical churches have sometimes experienced it as dead, rote, and stifling, and come to prefer, at least for awhile, the more externally enthusiastic, free-wheeling, performance side of modern worship in Evangelical Protestant churches.  Many tire of it later and  yearn for liturgy and the real Eucharist.  They sooner or later return to the Catholic Church, with much greater appreciation for what they have.

Some people don’t actually understand what liturgy is, what it is for, and how to enter into it.  It is possible that they have not yet really had a conversion experience, in which they truly have encountered our Lord Jesus.

In the Catholic Church, liturgy is not only a structure, a ritual, an external practice, it is the outwardly orderly worship called for by God in scripture.  In liturgy we truly come together as a single body,  to love,  praise and worship our God as one body, as one voice. God is the true High Priest leading us in worship through the mediation of the earthly priest, who truly descends into our midst and offers Himself in the bread and wine, and who enters into a real one flesh union with us when we receive His body and blood in the bread and wine.

When we go to receive communion, our God enters into us, we are truly one in God, and God is one in us, united more and more closely as one.  God enters into us, and welcomes us into His heart, carrying us up in the power of the Holy Spirit in union with our Father in heaven,  a union of deep, abiding love.  There is an abiding oneness, a real unity, that flows from the liturgy.  Christ is truly present and active.  We are taken up into this liturgy when we receive Him in the Eucharist.  That is the meaning of liturgy.