I always find myself repeating the same phrase whenever I am stuck in a difficult situation: “Diosito, por favor… ayudame,” meaning, “God, please…help me.”
I didn’t realize it at the time, but that small phrase I often cried out was actually a prayer in itself. As a Catholic little girl, I thought a prayer was something everybody knew, like the Our Father or Hail Mary. I didn’t understand that prayer could be something other than memorized prayers.
It wasn’t until I was older that I realized prayer is simply communication with God. The first foundational thing I learned about prayer actually came from my time of formation with none other than Jesus’ wives.
Yeah. You read that right. I did say Jesus’ wives. AKA nuns.
Catholic nuns offer their lives to Jesus and take Him as their spouse in order to dedicate their entire being to Him. It’s a beautiful vocation that I discerned throughout most of high school and after graduation. Although I didn’t end up being called to this vocation, I learned so much about life during my discernment with the Trinitarians of Mary. It was a time that helped me grow personally and spiritually, and also completely transformed my prayer life. I learned countless valuable insights about prayer through my time with the Trinitarians of Mary, but here are four to rock your world:
1. There is no set location for prayer
One of the things I loved most about the Trinitarians of Mary is that each of the convents I stayed in were surrounded by nature. When I stayed with them in the main convent, which is called Monte Tabor, in Tecate, B.C, Mexico, I would sneak away to the beautiful hills during my free time to be alone and simply admire God’s creation. I would use this time to talk to God about how I felt and what I was going through, and to simply allow myself to ask for and feel His peace.
Prayer can occur anywhere. No seriously, anywhere! God is omnipresent, which means that He is everywhere. This allows us to communicate with Him anywhere and everywhere. Just the other day I was on my way to a job interview and wasn’t able to stop by a chapel beforehand, so I simply started talking to God in the car. It’s amazing how we can be flooded by God’s peace in such ordinary places. Try it!
2. Music can be a huge help
One of the things I miss most about staying with the Trinitarians was the way they worshiped. They seriously have the most angelic voices. Every time we would pray the Liturgy of the Hours, we would sing. After our morning prayers, we would sing. Before we blessed our meals, we would sing. You get the idea: Music was an integral part of everyday life. God knows our hearts, and sometimes praising Him with a really good worship song that says exactly what we are thinking can help us communicate with Him in a profound way.
I remember moments during the Mass, especially at Communion, when I wasn’t sure how to phrase something, and then the song that played basically said it all. It was like God was letting me know, through that specific song, He knew what I was going through and was giving me the opportunity to express myself through the song.
3. The Rosary ain’t just for your grandma
Before discerning with the Trinitarians, I used to think the rosary was only something you prayed at funerals, novenarios, or with your grandma. Never in my life did I imagine I would end up saying five rosaries in an ordinary day! The Trinitarians prayed the rosary multiple times a day, each time with more love and fervor than before. I used to think the rosary was a long and boring prayer, but I learned, through their example, that it is one of the most intimate ways to meditate on the life of Jesus. Each mystery allows Mary to draw us closer the heart of her Son. The nuns showed me that the prayers of the rosary have power to transform us in profound ways.
Discerning with the Trinitarians taught me that in order to pray the rosary, I have to set time aside for it. So often we binge watch an entire season of a TV show in one night and then claim we don’t have time for the rosary (trust me, I do it all the time). It’s difficult to put God before our worldly desires and distractions, but the one who gave it all for us is worthy of our time. The nuns built their day around prayer, and showed me that it’s possible to meditate on the life of Christ if I make it a priority.
4. “Look at Him”
Lastly, and perhaps one of the most important things I learned from the nuns, is that sometimes being there is enough. This is especially true when it comes to Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. We don’t always know what to say to God and sometimes, things just don’t flow. That’s when simply being present is important. When I struggle with prayer, I think about all the time I spent with the nuns simply sitting in the Adoration chapel, not saying anything. When St. John Vianney was asked what he did all those hours sitting before the Blessed Sacrament, he simply replied, “I look at Him, and He looks at me.”
So, go and pray like a nun! Don’t be afraid to go on a hike, or to a park, or anywhere in nature, and simply admire His creation. Don’t be afraid to worship through music. Don’t be afraid to set time apart to pray the rosary. Don’t be afraid to look at Jesus, sitting before you in the Blessed Sacrament. Seeing the beautiful life of the Trinitarians of Mary allowed me to realize that a life filled with prayer is a life filled with peace.