WASHINGTON (CNA) – By working to enrich their prayer lives, Catholics can grow closer to Christ and more deeply live out the Year of Faith, said the U.S. bishops' leader on matters of evangelization.
"The Year of Faith is about returning to the foundational teachings of the Church and drawing strength from them," said Bishop David L. Ricken of Green Bay, who heads the Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis for U.S. bishops' conference.
He pointed to the Nicene Creed, the official prayer of the Year of Faith, as expressing "the core of Christian belief."
Announced by Pope Benedict XVI, the Year of Faith runs from Oct. 11, 2012, to Nov. 24, 2013, and is an opportunity for Catholics to renew their faith so that they may more fully share it with those around them.
On Dec. 5, Bishop Ricken offered "10 Prayers for the Year of Faith" that can also be an opportunity for Catholics to prepare for Christmas during the current Advent season.
The bishop recommended several basic Catholic prayers. He explained that the Lord’s Prayer, or Our Father, "is so central to the faith that it's said at every Mass."
As the prayer that Christ gave us, it also brings us closer to Jesus and encourages a personal encounter with him, he added.
Another basic prayer, the Hail Mary, is also important, he bishop said, noting that "Mary will always assist Christians and bring them to her son."
Furthermore, the Glory Be is a hymn of praise that "beautifully captures the essence of our faith in an eternal, Trinitarian God," he said.
In addition to these basics, Bishop Ricken suggested the Acts of Contrition, Faith, Hope and Love as good staples for a Christian prayer life.
He advocated other Marian prayers as well. The Memorare "reminds God's people that Mary is our mother and that we can turn to her with anything," he said, while the Magnificat, or Canticle of Mary from Luke’s Gospel, "gives a glimpse of the faith of someone who trusted God so much that he entered the world through her."
He then suggested the Canticle of Zechariah as "a vivid testament of faith from someone experiencing God's goodness at work in the world."
The bishop also recommended praying to angels with the Guardian Angel prayer often taught to children and the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel.
"Both are helpful reminders of the need to ask for God's protection and guidance every day," he said.
Finally, Bishop Ricken suggested the Prayer for the New Evangelization, which can be found on the bishops’ conference web site and calls for the Holy Spirit to strengthen the hearts of the faithful so that they may witness to the Gospel through their lives.
"The purpose of the Year of Faith is to renew and strengthen Catholics in their practice of the faith so that they may inspire the world with their example," he explained. "This is the New Evangelization."