CHAIN PRAYERS AND PRAYER CHAINS
From time to time (like this week) I pick up a CHAIN PRAYER to St Jude left lying around the church. On the page it says “Novena prayer must be said six times each day for nine consecutive days, leaving nine copies in the church each day”. This is what is called a “Chain Prayer” and it is a form of superstition which should find no place in our prayer life. It reduces the efficacy of prayer to a belief in some magical property associated with doing certain things so many times.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church warns us that to “attribute the efficacy of prayers or of sacramental signs to their mere external performance, apart from the inner dispositions they demand, is to fall into superstition” (CCC 2111). However Catholics are often confused and unsure what to do with these pieces of paper. I throw them away!
On the other hand the internet is full of PRAYER CHAINS, that is prayers posted by people because they want to share the prayer with others and so form a Prayer Network. This is harmless because it does not rely on or promote any magical notion of prayer. Inviting others to pray and offering them a ‘sample’ prayer is a good thing; care must be taken not to suggest that prayer depends on ‘magical’ actions.
Talking about the internet, there are many wonderful sites which are designed to help us in our spiritual lives; have a look at sacredspace.ie
The Jesuits at Creighton University (USA) run a similar site designed to promote spiritual growth.
And while you are at prayer, say one for me.
Fr Sean Wales, C.Ss.R.