I always had a problem remembering the names of those for whom I wanted to pray. I always remember my parents and grandparents and family members, but, as I grow older, and more names are added to my prayer list, I can’t remember all the people I want, nor any special intentions, such as prayer for those sick in the hospital or those I know who have cancer. Then then is another problem, time. If I start to add up all the people on my prayer list, it takes me twenty or thirty minutes. My spiritual attention span is not that long before the world creeps in an offers me alternative thoughts and diversions. So, what to do? I use the Book of Life.
“Yes, and I ask you also, my loyal companion, help these women, for they have struggled beside me in the work of the gospel, together with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the bookoflife.” Philippians 4:3
My use of the Book of Life is not a recent event. What is recent is my re=discovery of The Book of Life as something I use as part of my Lay Cistercian spirituality. There are two contemplative practices that I do now with greater consistency and focus: 1. I pray each morning for a different intention, usually when I go to Morning Prayer at Good Shepherd Church, Tallahassee.
Place this aide on your mirror. When you wake up, offer everything you do today as glory to the Father and for the grace to do God’s will, through Our Lord, Jesus Christ.
Monday: In reparation for my sins and those of the Church, those on my prayer list
Tuesday: For all family, friends, teachers, classmates from St. Meinrad Seminary, those on my prayer list
Wednesday: In honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Immaculate Heart of Mary, and St. Joseph, those on my prayer list
Thursday: For all Lay Cistercians, Monks of Holy Spirit Monastery, Monks of St. Meinrad Archabbey, priests and religious of Diocese of Evansville, Monks of Norcica, Italy and those on my prayer list
Friday: For an increase in grace to love God with all my heart, all my soul, all my mind and my neighbor as myself.
Saturday: For all deceased, an increase in my faith through the Holy Spirit and for those on my prayer list.
Sunday: To give praise, honor and glory to the Father through the Son by means of the Holy Spirit, the God who is, was, and is to come at the end of the ages
2. The second practice is writing people’s names in the Book of Life. Jesus is the book of life. He is the file cabinet of all those who have gone before us. The file drawer is the Church, the Body of Christ that exists now. The individual file folders are those with our names on them. We have the ability to write in our file folder the names of those who have died, those whom we remember in our daily prayers each day, those intentions that we make to give glory to the Father through Christ Jesus. Whenever I pray, all I do is ask God to remember those in my file folder. I don’t make a point of trying to recall all my family members, teachers, school classmates, colleagues. You get the point.
What I have been doing lately is visually seeing myself write the names of those whom I want in my file folder on a piece of paper. It is in gold, although my mental acuity has not progressed enough to actually see it in gold.
At 77, I have difficulty remembering if I took my medicine in the morning, but have no trouble with recalling my Book of Life names. I pray to the Father to be merciful to those on my file folder, but especially to me, one who only aspires to be perfect.
That in all things, may God be glorified. –St. Benedict