Playing Tag with The Anchoress

As a cranky old man trapped in a once-young-but-now-mostly-just-flabby man’s body, I’ve always been … well … cranky when it comes to participating in the games of BlogTag that burrow their way through cyberspace every now and again. Frankly, I’m still at a bit of a loss as to why anyone else cares about what I think, so playing “tag” is so far beyond the pale of sharing I’m comfortable with, it’s difficult to articulate. (While we’re on the topic of ” Internet Memes,” another one I seem to have avoided thus far is “fisking” — which I have always taken to mean “frantically trying to influence something over which one no longer has control,” but that might just be my Inner Baseball Nut talking.)

 This Devotional Tag from The Anchoress, however, caused me to set aside my prematurely-robust crotchetiness. I must admit that at least part of this “refreshingly benevolent” reaction is traceable to my excitement about being “tagged” by Elizabeth Scalia — that sort of makes me the equivalent of a third-class relic in the Catholic Blogging World, doesn’t it? — and part of it is an effort to forget things like this and this.  

Finally, though, I knew I would benefit from considering the question of which devotions I really do love. I have a tendency to fall into definite devotional grooves; eventually, I find myself doing these sorts of things almost without noticing them any more. “Rote” isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially when one considers the “heart” part of doing things “by heart,” but a little awareness isn’t a bad thing, either. So, here are five (not terribly original but heartfelt) contenders:

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5. The Our Father — OK, so I probably don’t get bonus points “for originality” for recommending the very prayer Christ told us to pray when someone asked Him how we should be praying. But recent conversations with our local Mormon missionaries as well as a few months worth of discussion with a Jehovah’s Witness couple have really underscored how unusual this prayer is. We’re talking to God as “Dad;” that’s a shocking thing, really. And we don’t recognize the extraordinary uniqueness of it anywhere near as much as we should.

4. The “Angel of God” Prayer — This is my “nostalgic” devotion, both for the role it played in my own childhood, and the role it now plays in the lives of my children. We recite it nightly — the final daily activity in the hustle-and-bustle of their young lives. (Nor am I above employing it a bit myself from time to time; one of my favorite examples of how very different “childlike” and “childish” can be. I can always do with a bit of a Matthew 18:3 reminder.)

3. The Chaplet of Divine Mercy — We recite this daily in our office – Catholic higher education could always do with a little more Divine Mercy, methinks – and I grow increasingly fond of it. Interestingly, this is the only devotion in my list that did not receive “heavy rotation” amongst my family’s devotions  during my formative years. It’s “my own” in a way that the others listed here are not.

2. The Rosary — The spiritual equivalent of “comfort food,” my feelings on this one are very similar to those I feel when reciting the Our Father. Having a God to pray to is one thing, but having a spiritual “Mom” to talk to is particularly powerful stuff. (I tend towards the “3.7 MPH Rosary” school, myself – the “379 MPH” folks make it hard for me to concentrate. I feel like I can’t breath.)

1. The Stations of the Cross — I don’t love The Stations. I don’t even really like them….I need them. Which is why they’re at the top of my list. Focusing on Christ’s suffering is not something I do well — (I don’t focus even on my own suffering with anything remotely approaching an appropriate attitude, come to think of it) — and The Stations are just about the best way to force myself to do it. St. Alphonsus Ligouri’s  are far-and-away the most popular and well-known, but I have a particularly soft spot for those of Cardinal Newman. They’re beautiful.

Thanks for the tag, Anchoress! It was definitely worth-while. And InsideCatholic readers: consider yourselves tagged. Feel free to use the comments to untag yourselves.


  • Joseph Susanka

    Joseph Susanka has been doing development work for institutions of Catholic higher education since his graduation from Thomas Aquinas College in 1999. Currently residing in Lander, Wyoming — “where Stetsons meet Birkenstocks” — he is a columnist for Crisis Magazine and the Patheos Catholic portal.

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