Here is another thing I wish to get peoples views on. In all my years of being a Roman Catholic, 45 years sine baptism , I was really only encouraged to engage in prayer at the side of my bed. My eyes closed. I did it for years. When in Mass I felt that the prayers were 'responses' learned by heart as a resonse to the priest, who seemed to my naive mind perhaps to be an MC of sorts.
When I joined orthodoxy my spiritual Father, not only encouraged me to set aside a sacred place, but alao to make it as beautiful as possible with icons, taking time to prepare incense even before my prayers began. I was taught to make the sign of the cross frequently, to bow at certain words and phrases. I fekt my whole body taking part in the worship every night and every morning.
I found myself without any sense of 'weirdness' beginning to speaking frankly and honestly like friends to the Icons of the Saints on my wall. Without anyone telling me I felt it natural to kiss my forefingers and place kisses upn the hands and feet of the Theotokos and the Saints and our Lord Jesus Christ.
I place a kiss and a prayer upon the icon of my patron saint St John. my wife does the same for her patron saint St Brendan. We pray to our Guardian angels every evening before we retire, a practice that fell by the way side in Roman Catholicism years back in our chidhood , my nieces both Roman Catholics nominally, were astonished when my Irish mother explained to them about the existence of their own Guardian angels, one said 'wow thats kinda spooky' , they simply HAD NOT HEARD OF THEM and they go to Catholic primary and secondary schools,and go nominally at least to Mass every sunday neither had ever heard that they had patron saints,iy was never mentioned in RE classes, but they can tell you all about Ramadan and the Hindu 'God' Krishna....Again it was my irish mother now in her 80's who took the trouble to explin this to them ..
Now why did none of that prayer practice never evolve in my years as a Roman Catholic? I can recall rushing through my prayers almost ahamed for it be impatient for it to end.
In fact on the contrary I now find myself extending some extra other thoughts at the endof my evening prayers now.....like 'St Kieran please intercede with Our Lord to take away some of the pain of my brother...or can you keep a watchful eye on my son Kieran too'.
The question I ask is why did this elude me in years of prayer within Roman Catholicism? I had soem holy pictures but they seemed fleshly and artistic rather than spiritual, full of blood and lacerations and scary looking ...
When I did as a Roman carholic light candles I felt it fake and affected...I tried incense and I just thought it seemed over the top....Why..... and I genuinely want to hear your ideas about all this does what seemed affected unconfortable and somehat pretentious now seem natural, which leaves me feeling authentic and uplifted afterwards??
I am genunely interested in hearing what other people feel about these observations. My wife who is still a Roman Catholic started participating in doing the ortodox prayers in the evening too in the past 3 months, and she too feels we go to our beds feeling sanctified and at peace, the aroma of the incense is fitering up the stairs and we end the prayers with an affectionate kiss.
When we used to switch off the TV lock the door and head up to bed we never ever felt such an uplifting end to the day....Is this an experience that others feel too?? or will we just get bored with it?
My wife lost her Father 7 months ago and we say a special prayer for the loss of a close relative, she reads it and often ends in tears....not bad ones but good tears.
If we had stayed within the RC tradition I just know that NONE of this would have happened.