sometimes, especially lately, i consider becoming catholic. as i get older, my view of the faith tradition whittles down to catholicism a flavor of christianity (#ecumenism), thanks to thomas merton, fr. john eudes bamberger (whom i met last summer whilst on my silent retreat, only to learn he was fairly close to merton!), pope francis, fr. james martin, stephen colbert, and flannery o’connor. i appreciate how they uniquely emanate Jesus and His kingdom.
i bought a copy of flannery o’connor’s prayer journal last year and had kept the slim hardcover, along with anne lamott’s help, thanks, wow, in my locker — spiritual blankies, as it were — throughout 1L. i kept a literal blanket, the kantha i bought in india three years ago, in my locker, too.
for 2L, i switched the kantha blanket for a hooded sweatshirt, and brought flannery’s journal home. as i feel myself veering towards the law school version of the sophomore slump (perhaps “spiral” is more apt), i’ve been rereading her prayer journal the past few nights, and i’m convinced that flannery and i are kindred spirits.
i cycle through her prayers and it dawns on me, “is this what it’s like to pray through the rosary?”
previously, the practice appeared rote and, based on my limited knowledge of confession, peculiar — how does prescribing a parishioner numerous recitations constitute penance? the concept of prayer as punishment struck me as odd; perhaps the tedium of redundancy ad nauseum meets punitive goals?
i’ve learned that repetition isn’t necessarily rote and devoid of meaning. in biblical literature, repetition serves to emphasize. repetition is meant to bore: not tending toward boredom, but to bore down.
my wants and worries parallel hers very much, even now when one would think that the novelty of the striking resemblance between the two sets would’ve faded by now. to the contrary, what remains consistent is how striking and fresh the sense of kinship feels.
here, repetition renews and marvel at how i’ve yet to tire of sharing her sentiments so closely. i catch myself clinging to her turns of phrase, certain that i could have underlined and annotated her words with an ultra-fine point sharpie pen with confidence, the way i imagine one clutches the beads of a rosary.
a few hurdles keep me from switching to catholicism from the various strands of protestantism. for now, i hope it’s not sacrilegious to use her journal as my approximation of the rosary; actually, it seems fitting to turn her prayers into a personal variation on “traditional prayer.”
how could i resist when she prays the following, which resounds most emphatically with this law student halfway through her second year, days away from final exams?
How hard it is to keep any one intention any one attitude toward a piece of work any one tone any one anything. . . Dear God, let me work, keep me working, I want so to be able to work. If my sin is laziness I want to be able to conquer it.