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Lumen Press: An Initiative to Foster Family Prayer
U. S. A. | APOSTOLATE | NEWS
How a Regnum Christi member’s response to others’ needs became a growing apostolate.

Lumen Press
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
Alice of LUmen Press
A former nurse and high school teacher, and a mother and grandmother, Alice DeGennaro has been involved in many initiatives and apostolates.
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.

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.

And that novena was just the beginning.

Specific Prayers for Specific Occasions

After 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.

“I thought, ‘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…’”

The result was the Litany of Thanksgiving for couples to say together.

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.”

The first few lines of the prayer read:

Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make our hearts like yours.
Help us, O Jesus, to esteem others.
Help us, O Jesus, to proclaim others.
Help us, O Jesus, to praise others…

And further on: ‘

Help us, O Jesus, not to humiliate anyone.
Help 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?’”

Not long 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.)

“What 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.

The Prayer 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?’” 

Prayers Answered

Some time 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 intentions.

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 with it.

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 fully recovered.

“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.”

Looking Ahead

Lumen 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.

“A 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.

But 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.


PUBLICATION DATE: 2010-06-17


 
 

Related links

Catholic.net web site
Mission Network
Our Lady of Bethesda Retreat Center and the Center for Family Development
Changing Hearts
Cancun-Chetumal Prelature
Challenge
ConQuest
Helping Hands Medical Missions


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