About prayer

“Man is in search of God. In the act of creation, God calls every being from nothingness into existence. “Crowned with glory and honour,” man is, after the angels, capable of acknowledging “how majestic is the name of the Lord in all the earth.” Even after losing through his sin his likeness to God, man remains an image of his Creator, and retains the desire for the one who calls him into existence. All religions bear witness to men’s essential search for God.

“God calls man first. Man may forget his Creator or hide far from his face; he may run after idols or accuse the deity of having abandoned him; yet the living and true God tirelessly calls each person to that mysterious encounter known as prayer. In prayer, the faithful God’s initiative of love always comes first; our own first step is always a response. As God gradually reveals himself and reveals man to himself, prayer appears as a reciprocal call, a covenant drama. Through words and actions, this drama engages the heart. It unfolds throughout the whole history of salvation.”

Catechism of the Catholic Church #2566-2567

As the adopted children of God in Jesus Christ our Lord, prayer should come naturally to us, and in the most simplest fashion. However, we are frequently distracted today and forget to look upwards. Meanwhile, we have lost the vocabulary of prayer. So many of us wish to pray and don’t know how to begin. This isn’t anything new and the Church over the years has provided us with carefully composed prayers, from the formal prayers of Holy Mass and the Divine Office to the several approved litanies, novenas and imprecations, and finally to the witness of the Saints, many of whom left behind diaries, notebooks and published works.

On this page, in time, there will be a summary of some of the most basic prayers from a variety of sources.

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Basic prayers:

I. The Sign of the Cross

In the Name of the Father,
and of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

II. The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father, Who art in heaven,
hallowed be Thy Name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil. Amen.

III. The Hail Mary

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

IV. The Gloria

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

V. The Symbol (Creed, here the Apostles Creed)

I believe in God,
the Father almighty,
Creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ,
His only Son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the
power of the Holy Spirit
and born of the Virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended into hell.
On the third day He rose again.
He ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge
the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy Catholic Church,
the communion of Saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting. Amen.

Basic catechism:

I. The Ten Commandments of the Law of Moses (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2052 et passim)

  1. To love God, to adore Him alone above all things
  2. To not call upon the holy Name of God in vain
  3. To sanctify Sundays and named feasts of obligation
  4. To honour parents and legitimate superiors
  5. To not kill, or cause grievous injury
  6. To not commit adultery and to maintain chastity in word and deed
  7. To not steal or unjustly cause damage to the property of others
  8. To not bear false witness or to otherwise serve dishonesty
  9. To not desire the spouse of another
  10. To not desire the property of another.

These commandments of God can be reduced to two: to love almighty God above all other things, and to love other people as oneself.

II. The Commandments of Holy Church

  1. To attend at Holy Mass on Sundays and prescribed Days of Obligation, and to abstain (if possible) from servile work upon these days
  2. To keep the prescribed days of fasting and abstinence
  3. To confess one’s sin at least once every year
  4. To receive Holy Communion at least once every year, and that at the time of Easter
  5. To contribute to the support of the Holy Sacrifice and the priests of the Church

III. The Works of Mercy

The corporal works of mercy relate to the physical care of our neighbour:

  1. To give to eat to those who are in hunger
  2. To give to drink to those who are in thirst
  3. To dress the unclothed
  4. To shelter travellers and pilgrims
  5. To visit and assist the sick
  6. To visit those imprisoned
  7. To bury the dead

The spiritual works of mercy relate to the spiritual care of our neighbour:

  1. To advise or give good counsel
  2. To instruct the ignorant
  3. To correct those in error
  4. To console the unhappy
  5. To forgive for personal injuries
  6. To suffer in patience the weaknesses of others
  7. To pray the Lord for the living and the dead

IV. The Sacraments of the Church (CCC, 1210 et passim)

  1. Baptism
  2. Confirmation
  3. The Holy Eucharist
  4. Confession or Reconciliation
  5. The Anointing of the Sick
  6. Holy Orders
  7. Holy Matrimony

V. The gifts of the Holy Spirit (CCC, 1831-1845, cf. Isaiah 11)

  1. Wisdom
  2. Understanding
  3. Counsel
  4. Fortitude
  5. Knowledge
  6. Piety
  7. Fear of the Lord

VI. The Theological virtues (CCC, 1812-1829)

  1. Faith
  2. Hope
  3. Charity

VII. The Cardinal virtues (CCC, 1805-1809)

  1. Prudence
  2. Justice
  3. Fortitude
  4. Temperance

VIII. The Evangelical counsels, which lead to Perfection

  1. Voluntary poverty
  2. Complete obedience
  3. Perpetual chastity

IX. The Beatitudes (Gospel of Matthew 5: 3-10)

  1. Blessed the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven
  2. Blessed the meek, for they shall possess the land
  3. Blessed they who mourn, for they shall be comforted
  4. Blessed they who hunger and thirst after justice, for they shall have their fill
  5. Blessed the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy
  6. Blessed the clean of heart, for they shall see God
  7. Blessed the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God
  8. Blessed they that suffer persecution for justice’s sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven

X. Capital sins or vices, the corresponding virtues

Often called ‘deadly,’ these include:

  1. Pride
  2. Greed
  3. Gluttony
  4. Anger or wrath
  5. Lust
  6. Envy
  7. Sloth or laziness

These vices are countered by the respective supernatural virtues:

  1. Humility, against pride
  2. Generosity, against greed
  3. Chastity, against lust
  4. Patience, against anger
  5. Temperance, against gluttony
  6. Charity, against envy
  7. Diligence, against sloth

XI. Sins against the Holy Spirit

  1. Despair concerning one’s eternal salvation
  2. Presumption of God’s mercy, in the absence of merit
  3. Contradiction of recognised truth
  4. Envy of the blessings of God given to another
  5. Obstinacy in sin
  6. Final impenitence or unrepentance

XII. Sins that cry out unto heaven for vengeance

  1. Voluntary killing
  2. Sins of a sexual nature that are against nature
  3. Oppression of the poor, especially of widows and orphans
  4. The withholding of the just salary of a worker

XIII. Enemies of the soul

  1. The world
  2. The devil
  3. The flesh

XIV. The Last Things for mortal beings

  1. Death
  2. Judgement
  3. Heaven
  4. Hell

For more information on the items on these lists, please visit the relevant portions of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), and do not hesitate to consult your parish priest or catechist.