Monday, April 1, 2013

Catholic Monday: Oremus - A Guide to Catholic Prayer

Greetings my dear readers. We are officially in the Easter Season, and it is a time of celebration and joy! Whenever a season ends, I like to reflect a little bit on the previous season and see how I did, especially if it's a penitential and anticipatory season like Advent or Lent. My goal this Lent was to do the Bible Study Oremus - A Catholic Guide to Prayer faithfully every day, and be a super prayer warrior when Lent was over. I did not meet my goal and am not a super prayer warrior, but I feel I have made some progress, and that's important. There is no plateau in the journey toward salvation. If we aren't moving closer to God, we're slipping further away. Anyways, here is my review of "Oremus."

"Oremus" is an eight week program presented by Fr. Mark Toups. Fr. Toups is a priest in the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux Louisiana. He is the Director of Seminarians for his Diocese and is also involved with the Institute for Priestly Formation. Each week you watch or listen to a presentation by Fr. Toups, break into small groups (assuming you're doing this on a large parish-wide scale) to discuss questions in your workbook, and then you go home and pray with an assigned Scripture passage for each day of the week, until you meet again the following week.

There are six different passages per week, with Day 7 being a reflection on the passage that spoke to you most. I would have preferred it if there were 3-5 passages. I understand that you don't undertake becoming better at prayer lazily, but it was hard some weeks to do all six passages and then reflect again on Day 7, which is presumably the same day you meet with your small group and watch the DVD. Even a gradual building up to a full seven days would have been welcomed. My wife and I both work and are preparing for a baby, so some days we felt we didn't have the time to devote fully to the study and opted to just read the daily readings from Mass.

The first two weeks of this eight week course also didn't feel as helpful as future weeks. In the first few weeks, you are simply told to read the Scripture passage three times, and then answer four questions. It isn't until Week 3 that you are introduced to Lectio Divina, and even then it isn't until Week 4 where your Lectio Divina is guided with suggestions like, "Consider how God is the author of all creation." These guided suggestions would have been very helpful earlier in the program as I felt that I was floundering a bit early on and trying to figure out what I was supposed to be meditating on. I feel early on when you are learning that you need the guided suggestions more, and as the series begins to come to an end, you are hopefully able to figure out what you want to meditate on for the daily Scripture passage

Overall, I would give this series a 4 out of 5 stars. Fr. Toups is an excellent presenter and speaker and you felt at ease with him talking to you. He seemed to genuinely care about the subject of prayer and helping people become better at praying. The content was also very good. The DVDs were well put together, and the Scripture passages were masterfully chosen. I took away 1 star from my rating, because I felt the program needs a little tweaking in terms of organization. I understand not wanting to overwhelm people early on in the study, but I just felt like I was doing the program wrong for the first two to three weeks, and it wasn't until the guided questions/reflections were introduced that it all started to click.

I'd like to thank Ascension Press for giving me the opportunity to review Oremus - A Catholic Guide to Prayer. You can find this study and other great studies for people of all ages, at their website. If you found this review helpful, click this link and hit the Yes button. Thank you as always to my wonderful readers.