Friday, May 01, 2009

Devotion and devotions

This First Friday, first day of Mary's month feast of St. Joseph the Worker certainly offers an abundance of Catholic devotions to choose from! Popular devotions (that's the technical term for them) were by and large flushed out of the Catholic system (at least here in the U.S.) for a generation, but they are inching their way back. I think the approval of the Divine Mercy devotions back in the early 80's did a lot to regain a place of public honor for public devotions. By now, the Divine Mercy seems to have even largely supplanted devotion to the Sacred Heart, which it resembles so much.
I didn't really give all that much value to these devotions myself, seeing them primarily as stepping-stones into other forms of prayer. But lately Sr Helena has been telling me that a book she is currently reading (on Pope Benedict's thought) indicates that the loss of popular devotions has been a real concern of the Holy Father. These devotions, warm, personal, a little on the familiar side, have a real role in the spiritual life. When prayer is limited to liturgical prayer, even liturgical life seems to diminish (witness the now less than 30% Sunday Mass attendance among Catholics in the U.S.). Liturgy, public worship, is not enough!
Today being the feast of St. Joseph the Worker (a feast deliberately echoing Marxist May Day observances--so much so that the Pope was criticized for instituting the feast!), my prayer is especially with people who are unemployed (including my niece's husband who lost his job yesterday) and underemployed (such as my brother-in-law). At the snowball stand today with my mom, a man came over to sit on one of the logs that serve as benches. A mechanic, he has been out of work for two months. May St. Joseph the Worker who taught God a workman's ways, intercede!

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