Sister Brenda Peddigrew is a Sister of Mercy of Newfoundland, Canada. A writer, speaker, high school teacher and director of adult faith development for St. John's Archdiocese of Newfoundland, she collaborated with Diarmuid O'Murchu on Religious Life in the 21st Century. She facilitates chapters for congregations of men and women around the world.
What is your favorite type of prayer? Why?
At age 6, my teacher, a Sister of Mercy, taught us all how to pray "from inside." Every Friday morning, 36 of us marched to the giant basilica next door and knelt in front of the tabernacle. Then 22-year-old Sister Mary Gerard repeated how we were to be with Jesus in our hearts, how we were to invite him to come from the tabernacle and be inside each one of us.
It wasn't until very recently — 65 years later — that I felt the full impact of this early formation.
Before Grade 1, my prayers were those taught to a small child: the Our Father, Hail Mary, Angel Guardian. After Grade 1, prayers became again worded and spoken aloud: in school, in church, at family rosary. We made "spiritual bouquets" of prayers and gave them as gifts for special occasions! It wasn't until becoming a Sister of Mercy myself that I was introduced to daily Scripture meditation. After two experiences of the 30-day Ignatian Spiritual Exercises — once when I was 23 and again when I was 45 — I noticed my form of prayer changing, slowly and deeply.
Centering prayer (two periods of 15 to 20 minutes each day) over many years opened me to the practice of presence and of surrender. Then I encountered Robert Sardello's book Silence, and even centering prayer deepened with the practice of moving from head to heart for only a few minutes at a time. It shifts not only perception, but presence: God becomes actually, perceptually, present when soul fills every part of me, heart and body, feelingly. Nature/Creation comes alive, shifts into three dimensions, and I know myself to be a small part of it, know that nature in all its forms is as much a presence of God as I am myself.
So, what is my favorite way to pray now? To bring my whole being into Presence, to open to the fullness of all creation, to feel myself receiving from the manifestations of the Divine that surround me. All of me, not just my mind, knows my heart as the doorway to this amazing gift, swinging inward and outward all at once.
Here is a photo of one of my favorite places to pray, though — a blade of grass, my cat, snow-laden trees, crocuses, the river — all offer me ongoing prayer when I can leave thinking behind and sink into Presence. I receive, say thank you, and fall into unity with it all, body and soul.
We're delighted to bring you this blog from the monthly feature "The Life" courtesy of our friends at Global Sisters Report. This month "The Life" asks the panelists to respond to the question: What is your favorite type of prayer? Why? Click HERE to read more blogs from The Life, GSR's monthly feature about the unique, challenging and very specific lives of women religious around the world.