I was recently asked if I know a certain Marian prayer. To my chagrin I didn’t, so I shot back without much thought, no, I stick with the basics like the mass, the breviary and the rosary. You might call me a meat and potatoes (or better, pasta) kind of guy, but this is not to detract from the desirability of other flavors, brands, and styles of prayers, in the kinds of worship and service made available for consumption to the faithful.
Isn't it better to be a “Heinz 57” kind of Catholic? One that takes frequent advantage of the many choices made present throughout the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church over simplicity and sameness? That seems to come down to a matter of personal taste. What’s your fancy? Comedy, tragedy, romance, or adventure? Do you prefer menial labor or brain-teasing work? Is vacation time better spent in peaceful solitude or with the joyful company of friends or family? Happily, Catholicism isn’t an either/or proposition one writer recently expressed, it’s both/and. I suggest that there aren’t any particular pat answers how one best ought to serve God. Service is made known through one’s gifts, opportunities, and obligations. So, it’s not that I’m not excited about seeking different ways to pray, but that there are so many ways to pray that are exciting!
While preaching the Gospel to the Romans, St. Paul says: “I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong—that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith” (1 Rom 11:-12). It is God who implants within each of us varying talents, interests and needs that we might better serve the whole. What matters most is that we glorify God and help one another to do the same.
Recall that story about a snow-bound traveler in the arctic who was invited to join a group of adventurers. “No thanks,” he says, “I don’t want to be held back; it’s faster traveling alone.” A few hours later, the group that is lending support and camaraderie to one another find that same poor soul frozen by the roadside; he had no one to help keep warm. Truth is, balance is everything. Sometimes a novena is called for, other times a family rosary works, and of course, the sweet spot would be an hour well spent before the Blessed Sacrament. But that all works for the glory of all is the strength of our faith, because such is our God that He who is infinite, grants nearly limitless ways for loving Him in truth and goodness.
My more refined answer, now that I'm not caught off-guard, might be one more in line with what the Little Flower once said: "Our Lord does not so much look at the greatness of our actions, or even at their difficulty, as at the love with which we do them." Is it meat and potatoes, then, or sausage and ratatouille? Our Lady’s chaplet or the rosary? Devotion to St. Joseph or attention focused on my Angel Guardian? A Jesuit Examen of Conscience or Benedictine spirituality? With St. Therese, I can proudly say: I want it all!