Prayer at heart of Why Catholic? program

Record Editor

People all across the Archdiocese of Louisville are familiar with prayer — it’s an integral part of every Mass, every service, and for most people, every day.

But this fall’s Why Catholic? initiative will give the people of the archdiocese a chance to become more familiar with, more knowledgeable of, more comfortable with those personal conversations with God that we call prayer.

“Sign-up Sundays” are already occurring throughout the archdiocese — they began on the weekends of Sept. 9 and 16, said Sal Della Bella, director of faith formation for the archdiocesan Office of Lifelong Formation and Education.

“October 6 will mark the first gathering of the Why Catholic? small groups,” he noted in an interview last week. “With the subject of this year’s session being prayer, that in itself is inviting. All over the nation as well as in the archdiocese, Why Catholic? groups are meeting and discussing this issue.”

While there is obviously familiarity with prayer, the Why Catholic? sessions “will invite people who already know something about prayer, who have experience with it, to learn even more about it. It’s a chance to come to a deeper knowledge of prayer.”

Knowledge of the power of prayer may be widespread — in the 19th century Alfred Lord Tennyson noted that “more things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of” — but Della Bella believes familiarity with this Why Catholic? subject “will lead some people to feel they have something to contribute to this topic.”

“This may encourage people who were not in the first go ’round of Why Catholic? to consider becoming a part of it this time,” he said. “Here’s something you know about, and now you have the chance to learn even more about it, to get better at it, to learn to know prayer more deeply and to strengthen what you already know about it.”

Locally, Why Catholic? leaders have adopted the theme “Pray First.”

“Some parishes have candies with ‘Pray First’ on them,” Della Bella noted. “As we get busy, as the pressures of life overwhelm us, this is a reminder to pause for a moment, to take the time for prayer. We think the ‘Pray First’ reminder will help people remember to pray before making big decisions.”

The campaign will help “ground people in making prayerful, discerning decisions,” he added.

To help emphasize this year’s Why Catholic? program and its local “Pray First” theme, Della Bella said, the archdiocese is planning to run four radio advertising spots.

One features a jogger who realizes how much he has to be grateful for, and he stops to say a prayer,” he said. “The second one involves someone who gets word they have cancer. It comes as a shock, and prayer helps to keep all of those affected focused and grounded.”

The third spot deals with the gift of pregnancy, he noted, and the subject of the fourth is the purchase of a home or any of life’s major decisions.

“Prayer allows us the opportunity of stopping to take a deeper look at how God might be leading us,” said Della Bella. “It’s a contemplative action. We can always learn more about prayer, though we’re familiar with it.”

The call for people to join in their parish Why Catholic? groups is illustrated, Della Bella added, by a remark Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen once made on the subject of Christian discipleship.

“Jesus said ‘come,’ before he said ‘go,’ ” Della Bella said the archbishop noted.

We’re called to gather with one another in prayerful consideration, Della Bella said, to consider our personal communication with God, the gift of prayer that he has given us all.

“We all do it; we all pray,” he said, “but coming together to talk about it, hearing how others do it, can be enlightening. It can help make us more confident in our own prayer lives.”

As this latest Why Catholic? program begins, parishioners may notice outdoor banners, indoor posters and other Why Catholic? promotional material at churches throughout the archdiocese. If you have yet to sign up for the small group sessions in your parish, each one has a Why Catholic? leader who can be contacted through the parish office. And it’s never too late to join.

You can also join Louisville Why Catholic? on Facebook.

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