Contemporary Catholics on Traditional Devotions

Traditional devotions can provoke a wide variety of reactions among contemporary Catholics. For many, the devotional life discovered during childhood has never lost its appeal. For some it has always remained on the fringes of their Catholicism. For still others it seems inconsistent with a mature faithand even vaguely superstitious. At the same time, a number of studies suggest that younger Catholics may be more open than their immediate elders to traditional devotions.

This variety of responses raises some interesting questions: What do traditional devotions have to say to contemporary Catholics? How might a devotion that has seen its popularity wax and wane (and now wax again) speak to Catholics unfamiliar with its appeal? Can devotions that often carry heavy theological and cultural baggage find a place in the post-Vatican II church? In short, what might devotions mean today?

Advertisement

This series for Lent and Easter focuses on the world of devotions in the life of contemporary believers. America asked a number of writers, many of them younger Catholics, to speak about a favorite devotionits history, its place in the writer’s life and its possible role in the life of contemporary believers. In this third part of the series we look at two: the Miraculous Medal and the Liturgy of the Hours.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
15 years 6 months ago
In an otherwise refreshing article on devotions, a small correction. Fr. Martin notes a series of essays that will be published on the devotional life of the Church, including Liturgy of the Hours. In the life of the Church, devotions are considered private prayer even though frequently done publicly. In contrast, the Liturgy of the Hours is officially public and communal prayer of the Church in parallel to the Liturgy of the Eucharist, although prior to Vatican II performed exclusively by clergy. To include the Liturgy of the Hours in the devotional list is to reinforce the notion that it is private and thus contravenes the reform of the liturgy. When the essay does appear, I hope that it makes that point clear.

15 years 6 months ago
In an otherwise refreshing article on devotions, a small correction. Fr. Martin notes a series of essays that will be published on the devotional life of the Church, including Liturgy of the Hours. In the life of the Church, devotions are considered private prayer even though frequently done publicly. In contrast, the Liturgy of the Hours is officially public and communal prayer of the Church in parallel to the Liturgy of the Eucharist, although prior to Vatican II performed exclusively by clergy. To include the Liturgy of the Hours in the devotional list is to reinforce the notion that it is private and thus contravenes the reform of the liturgy. When the essay does appear, I hope that it makes that point clear.

Advertisement

The latest from america

When “American Vandal” debuted on Netflix last year, it seemed to be positioning itself as the raucous send-up of the true crime genre. In Season Two, there is a much sharper edge to this new premise.
Jim McDermottSeptember 17, 2018
Knowing that the future of the church will largely be in the hands of Latinos, it is paramount that Catholic schools help form them in the faith and help them become our future leaders.
The EditorsSeptember 17, 2018
Jesuit Father Hans Zollner, president of the Center for Child Protection at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, speaks at a news conference officially launching the center in February 2015. Also pictured is Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley of Boston, head of the Pontifical Commission for Child Protection. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
Hans Zollner, S.J., a member on the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, shares his hopes for the church as a crisis that never ceases to shock and sorrow continues.
Jim McDermottSeptember 17, 2018
The film tells the story of Louie Zamperini, who spent 47 days at sea before being rescued, imprisoned and tortured by the Japanese.
John AndersonSeptember 14, 2018