PRAYER GROUPS 1
It is a common word, used continuously throughout the Bible, and by Our Lord and the Apostles in particular. It is a word that has been with us down through the ages.
It comes to us again, daily, through the appearances of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Medjugorje, and other apparition sites now prevalent around the world. At Medjugorje, the message always ends with: "Thank you for having responded to my call."
What is the call? A common thread throughout the message is her call to all of her children to "PRAY."
There is that word again, "prayer!" She has called for daily prayer, for prayer from the heart, for the worldwide initiation of prayer groups.
The other key word in her closing salutation is the word "respond." Response is not something you join. It is something you begin to do. It is an answer to a request. To respond is to answer. We have been asked for our "fiat," our "yes." Our Lady has asked for daily prayer, and for community prayer – for prayer groups. She is asking us to respond.
As a result, prayer groups are flourishing around the world. With this renew interest, comes a need for information on the how, why, when and where of beginning and sustaining a praying community of believers.
We hope this book can become an aid for many to "respond to Our Lady’s call."
My life, and this book, is dedicated to our Blessed Lady. May she extend her special blessing to everyone who has contributed to the writing of this book, to all her followers attending her prayer groups and to all the "special people" who will be reading this book. Let us all come together in Mary’s little army and pray for the salvation of mankind.
"The man who prays is saved; the man who does not pray is lost. The saints are in Heaven because they made use of prayer; the dammed are in Hell because they refused to pray." (St. Alphonsus Liguori).
Strong words indeed. But they are rooted in the words of the Bible:
"Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing." (1 Thess. 5:17).
"Let nothing hinder thee from praying always." (sir. 18:22).
"Lord, teach us how to pray." (Luke 11:1).
"Keep watch, then, praying at all times." (luke 21:36).
"We have been praying for you unceasingly." (Col 1:9).
"The unceasing prayer of the just man is of great avail." (Jas. 5:16).
The chaotic state of the contemporary world has resulted in two positives. First, the apparent and obvious great spiritual hunger that exist, and secondly, a strong re-surgence to prayer. This renewed commitment to prayer is finding nourishment through hundreds of prayer groups that are springing up across the land.
This book is an attempt to assist in the formation and continuation of such groups; an attempt to provide some basic guidelines and resources for those in formation as well as those already in existence.
In compiling the material, one aspect became most obvious. "There is no set format, no iron-clad formula to pray, no right or wrong." It is apparent that you learn to "pray" by "praying!" The only wrong way might be based in the words of Our Lord, Himself: "These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me." Simply begin – and put your heart into it. The answer then is simply to begin.
Mr. Joe McNamara, from Illinois, is largely responsible for compiling the material contained herein. It is a monstrous labor of love. To Joe we send our heartfelt thanks. To all those who contributed material, formats, suggestions, experiences, guidelines, etc. who are not named herein, our heartfelt thanks as well, and our apologies for not being able to include, by identification, the source of the information contained in this book.
Fr. Bill McDonnell, of Algonquin, Illinois, expressed it all very well in his letter to Joe regarding the formation of this book. He stated:
"I have been privileged to read both the outline and the final draft of your booklet on starting Marian prayer groups. The helpful information and suggestions that you have compiled, coupled with the enthusiasm and sincerity with which it is written, can make this booklet a tremendous tool for the initiation and continuing support of prayer groups worldwide."
We echo Fr. McDonnell’s and extend them also to all others who aided in compiling this information.
We further extended to all prayer groups the invitation to forward information on their particular group that might be used in a follow-up or supplement to this book.
Thank you for responding to her call.
THE RIEHLE FOUNDATION
After my first trip to Medjugorje, I felt in my heart that Our Blessed Mother wanted me to start a prayer group at my church, St. Patrick’s in St. Charles, Illinois and after it was successful, to help start prayer groups outside of my parish. On August 24, 1988, we started our prayer group at St. Patrick. Our Blessed Mother seemed to bless our efforts from the start.
"On May 8, 1989 we visited with Bishop Arthur J. O’Neill, bishop of our Diocese of Rockford, Illinois, and we given permission to help start prayer groups in our diocese. On May 20, 1989 we assisted in helping to form the first prayer group outside of our parish.
We traveled to St. Margaret Mary Church, Algonquin, Illinois at the invitation of the pastor, Fr. Bill McDonell. (Fr. McDonnell was one of the several priest along with 30 other pilgrims who were part of the hijacking of TWA Flight 847 in June 1985. Fr. McDonnell credited the intercession Our blessed Lady for helping to win his release from captivity ofter 3 days aboard the plane flying back and forth between Beirut and Algiers.) Soon after we were called upon to assist in the initiation of other prayer groups both in Illinois and other states."
Through the suggestion of Frances Reck and The Riehle Foundation, a commitment was made to formulate a booklet on the purposes and function of prayer groups. An outline of this booklet was written in English, translated into Croatian, and taken to Medjugorje durin Christmas of 1989. The Croatian copy was given to the visionary Vicka Ivankovic through her cousin Draga, and Vicka said it was good. The outline of the book was also read to Jelena Vasilj, the locutionist and she said it was fine (technically sound). She we were leaving Medjugorje the next day, Fr. Barbaric said he would the outline and write a letter regarding it. His letter to me blessed the booklet and recommended publication.
Cyril Abouyneau who belongs to Ivan’s prayer group and who stayed at my home while in the USA also read this booklet. Cyril said the reference to Our blessed Mother’s messages and the prayer groups were correct.
This outline was sent to many prayer groups throughout the USA, Australia, England and Europe. The book is a result of all of their efforts. We can truly say, that this book about prayer groups is a labor of love incorporating many points of view from various nations that are all joined by their love of Our Blessed Mother.
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