The Power of Ritual
class="MsoPlainText">The answer lies in the other characteristics. In those moments where the rich meaning, sacredness and solemnity of a ritual are being exercised, excluding cohesiveness contains an aspect of selfishness. Every ritual can bind one to another in some way, even if it's a personal ritual.
For example, John does not arise and just pray for the troubles in his life. He prays for others, and he prays for their needs before his own.
And let's say Mary's ritual is to arise and savor a hot cup of a coffee with one teaspoon of sugar in it exactly three minutes after the machine stops brewing, then sit in the dark, sip it and plan her day before the family arises. When her solemn time is over and after her spouse arises, she could pour a cup of coffee and take it to him. Delivering it with a kiss and a smile would sweeten the ritual.
John's and Mary's rituals are unique to themselves. John, though connects himself to others and to God through prayer, and Mary could easily conclude her quiet time ritual by an act of kindness to another.
For many, grace before meals has become a litany of words to rush through-just a token effort of thanksgiving before diving into the meal. But to truly consider what is being said and to embrace gratitude for the food is to remove the selfishness from the action and inject the sacred. That binds one to the others around the table and to God.
Religious rites, whatever they are, are not void of meaning. Those that believe they are have separated themselves from the meaning of the activity. Their disdain or boredom of the ritual often breeds an attitude of conceit because they think the ritual should be revised to fit their conceived idea of how it should be. This perspective is an act of turning a ritual into a mundane routine that needs updating. This, too, is selfishness, and it is disrespectful-not sacred-to attend a religious ritual and devalue it.
To create and perform rituals only to benefit one's mind, body and spirit is selfish as well. Whatever the ritual is, it is filled with deep meaning. The very least one can do in the act of ritual is be grateful. But that can be selfish as well. Random gratefulness is one thing, but offering profound gratitude to God is another. The activity of ritual can significantly enhance every facet of a person's life. One's days will always be filled with routines, but the creation of new rituals or the infusion of life into existing ones can bring order and stability to one's mind, body and spirit.
Kim A. Talbert is an award-winning nonfiction author, columnist, speaker and writing conference instructor. She is also the author of The Burning Beast, www.theburningbeast.com
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: power, ritual, routine, God, spirit, mind, body, Chaplet of Divine Mercy, prayer, rosary, grace
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