Catholic Ejaculatory Prayers
Catholic ejaculatory prayers or aspirations have long helped believers remind themselves to stay in constant prayer. However, the practice is not without its fair share of criticism. Those who practice ejaculatory prayer walk a thin line between remaining devote and subconsciously repeating phrases that have long lost their spiritual benefits.
Catholic Ejaculatory Prayers – Benefits and Warnings
In his 1953 article, “Versicles and Responses: The Church’s Ejaculatory Prayers” Ermin Vitry argues some of the pros and cons of ejaculatory prayer. Vitry warns that while some of the ejaculations, especially those of the Renaissance era, offer benefits to the prayer, most are “dryly doctrinal or they are sentimental” (555). He goes on to compare many devotional devices of this sort to “modern publicity” in the way they use rhythms and plays on words to “captivate the imagination and promote sales” (551). Clearly, if Vitry identified this connection in the 1950s, he would see how much more evident it is today.
There are two major side-affects of a religious practice that uses techniques similar to those in the advertising industry. First, there is a risk that the ejaculations will, much like a thirty second commercial, become mindless. The second, the person will be more likely to purchase that product. In this case, the person is more likely to pray. However, mindless prayer benefits no one. Praying continually is a positive attribute. Mindlessly praying continually is what the Pharisees were rebuked for. Vitry is concerned with this second possibility.
Catholic Ejaculatory Prayers and Poetry
The solution to this conundrum can be found in poetry. Ejaculatory prayers share a number of similarities with the poetic arts (concise nature, alliteration, rhythm schemes, imagery, etc…). Renowned poet, Kennith Koch, wrote that poetry is a meeting of music and meaning (15). The same concept should be taken into account when using ejaculatory prayers. The music (rhythm, rhymes, and other poetic devices) allows the user greater ease in remembering and recalling the prayer. The meaning makes the prayer worth remembering. By coupling these two concepts together, one can meaningfully and easily seek to focus on the Lord throughout the day.
Some Catholic Ejaculatory Prayers:
Eternal Father! I offer Thee the most precious blood of Jesus Christ in atonement for my sins and in supplication for the holy souls in purgatory and for the needs of holy Church.
Jesus, Mary, I love You. Save souls.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
Jesus, Mary, Joseph, be my Salvation.
Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!
My God, I believe, I adore, I trust and I love Thee! I beg pardon for all those that do not believe, do not adore, do not trust and do not love Thee.
Koch, Kenneth. Making Your Own Days: The Pleasures of Reading and Writing Poetry. New York, NY: Scribner, 1998. Print.
Vitry, Ermin. “Versicles And Responses : The Church’s Ejaculatory Prayers.” Worship 27.12 (1953): 550-556. ATLA Religion Database with ATLA Serials. Web. 4 Aug. 2013.
More Catholic Prayers here.