|The purpose of Lumen Press is to foster family prayer.|
June 14, 2010. Raleigh, NC. There are some apostolates that
grow organically, one step at a time, as a response
to a need. One of these is Lumen Press (www.lumenpress.com), a web site offering tailor-made prayers for specific occasions:
a novena for newlyweds, a prayer for the intercession of
John Paul II, a litany of love, a novena for
a child’s birthday...
The apostolate was begun by Alice DeGennaro,
a Regnum Christi member based just outside of Raleigh, NC.
A former nurse and high school teacher, and a mother
and grandmother, Alice has been involved in many initiatives and
apostolates, from founding a crisis pregnancy center back in Seattle
to building a women’s group in Raleigh to organizing an
online Ave Maria prayer network.
Lumen Press was actually born
from her experiences in Prayer and Action, a women’s group
that met monthly to discuss, pray about, and act upon
an issue facing women in today’s culture. Along the way,
Alice discovered that although the group of women felt very
comfortable praying together as a group or individually, many of
them had never prayed with their spouses in as many
as 35 years of married life.
For Alice, that lack of
family prayer—even in strong Catholics who had individual prayer lives—was
a need that called for a response.
“Out of that
experience, I started looking around for a prayer that couples
could say easily, especially newlywed, engaged, and married couples,” she
said, adding that some younger couples who were completely new
to prayer needed something simple and easy as their first
step. If the habit of prayer could be sown in
this way, then couples would be more likely to reach
for the Rosary as they continued growing.
|A former nurse and high school teacher, and a mother and grandmother, Alice DeGennaro has been involved in many initiatives and apostolates.|
Her search was fruitless.
And as her own 40th wedding anniversary approached, she also
began looking for a novena that she and her husband
could say to prepare for the special occasion. There, too,
her search came up short.
“It was before the Blessed Sacrament
that it started to come to me,” she said. There,
she thought of writing an original novena that could be
used in preparation for a couple’s wedding day or before
a significant wedding anniversary. The resulting prayer now has an
imprimatur from Bishop Michael Burbidge of the Raleigh diocese.
novena was just the beginning.
Specific Prayers for Specific Occasions
the novena for couples, Alice was thinking about how the
nightly examination of conscience could be an opportunity for couples
to end their day with thanksgiving to God.
‘Wouldn’t it be great if couples could thank God for
all the gifts they have. To say Thank you, Lord,
for loving us, saving us, trusting us, for our family…’”
result was the Litany of Thanksgiving for couples to say
Another prayer was born from her experience with the Litany
of Humility, originally composed by Cardinal Merry del Val. The
Litany of Humility focuses on freeing self from the desire
to be praised, appreciated and esteemed, and from the fear
of being despised, rejected, suspected, etc. From the desire of
being loved, deliver me, Jesus. From the fear of being
humiliated, deliver me, Jesus.
“As a Regnum Christi member, I
do the Litany of Humility fairly frequently, and I thought,
‘This is pretty negative.’ I was inspired to write the
Litany of Love as the antithesis of the Litany of
Humility. The prayer takes the exact opposite of what the
litany of humility does: for example, not to humiliate or
despise anyone, but to love them as Jesus loves me.”
first few lines of the prayer read:
Jesus, meek and
humble of heart, make our hearts like yours.
O Jesus, to esteem others.
Help us, O Jesus, to
Help us, O Jesus, to praise others…
Help us, O Jesus, not to humiliate anyone.
us, O Jesus, never to dismiss anyone.
Help us, O
Jesus, not to calumniate anyone…
Her next prayer was for children.
“That idea came from me being a grandparent,” she said.
“On every birthday, we give all these material gifts, but
I thought, ‘Why not something more spiritual, something that will
help me pray for my grandchildren, and that I can
also hand on to my children for their children?’”
after, some friends with college-age children were sharing their concerns
about challenges their kids were facing in the secular environment
of their college campuses, especially in those first few months
of adjustment to newfound freedoms.
The need to pray for
their college-age kids gave rise to another prayer: the Parents’
Prayer for a Student, and also A Student’s Prayer, which
is a prayer the student can say for him or
herself. (Both will be available soon on the web site.)
came out of all the prayers is basically the effort
to promote family prayer, to get families to pray for
one another with very specific prayers. There are a lot
of very general prayers out there, but I wanted something
very specific,” she said.
In Times of Special Need
The other prayers
on the web site—the Prayer for Peace, the Prayer for
the Intercession of John Paul II, and the Prayer for
Hope—were also born from personal experiences in ministry.
for Hope, in particular, came out of her experience working
in crisis pregnancy centers, both in Seattle and in the
Raleigh area, where she currently volunteers.
“The Prayer for Hope is
for the woman and her baby,” she said, noting that
the prayer comes in two versions. “One prayer is for
the woman who has tested positive. Many of these women
do not know God, and if we present them with
a prayer that speaks to what they are living, it
could be a way to help them turn to God.
The other prayer is for a woman who has tested
negative; the prayer is aimed at helping her make positive
changes in her life,” she said.
The Prayer for Hope is
currently being sent out to crisis pregnancy centers around the
country, as one more spiritual resource that the centers can
offer to women.
“All of the prayers come out of a
need, either my need or someone else’s need that I’ve
noticed,” said Alice. “And they are the fruit of prayer,
of going to the Lord and asking, ‘What can I
do, other than my simple prayer here?’”
ago, Alice founded an online prayer ministry to gather people—mostly
friends and acquaintances around the country—to pray for urgent needs
related to illnesses, accidents, and other tragedies. The Prayer for
John Paul II’s Intercession was born from that experience, and
Alice frequently uses it and shares it for especially serious
When a friend’s daughter suffered a tragic car accident, her
head injury was so severe that she was not expected
to survive. The prayer group used the John Paul II
prayer for months, praying for her full recovery. Today, she
is about 75-80% recovered. We will never know for certain,
but the persistence, love, faith, and trust in the hearts
of those who prayed most likely had something to do
In another case, a neighbor’s husband was high
up in a tree, sawing off branches. When he fell
40 feet to the ground, nearly every bone in his
body was shattered and he wasn’t expected to recover. Months
and many prayers later, he has since recovered.
“In our online
prayer group, we’ve seen so many prayers answered. We’ve seen
the recovery of people with devastating illnesses,” said Alice, recalling
another friend with a particularly invasive cancer who has since
“As Mother Teresa said, the fruit of prayer is
love, so hopefully through the prayers, people will learn to
love Our Lord more and love one another more.”
Press was not something that Alice had planned out from
the very beginning; it was something that grew under her
fingertips as needs became responses, and as those responses led
to new opportunities.
The web site, for example, was a gift.
friend of mine had the web site ready to go
and he wasn’t using it. I came up with my
own name and he said, ‘No, just take mine!’ He
also volunteered to take care of all the web and
graphic design for free.”
Several parishes in the area have
begun using the couples novena in their marriage prep and
marriage renewal programs, and one pastor asked for it to
be translated into Spanish. The USCCB is planning to put
the novena on their web site as well.
And she is
currently working on more prayers, including a Stations of the
Cross for mothers and a Rosary for couples, with quotes
from John Paul II in the reflections before each mystery.
what matters most is not promoting the prayers in themselves,
but the habit of prayer in marriages and families, with
all the blessings it brings.
“The most important thing is to
get these prayers into the hands of families and people
who can use them to encourage family prayer,” she said.
“That’s the most important thing to me: to help couples
to pray together.”
Visit www.lumenpress.com to find out more about
the prayers, litanies, and novenas available for purchase.