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How I memorized my favorite prayer in sixty seconds

March 30, 2012 by  
Filed under Books, Dan Burke, Prayer, Resources

Here's a great post from Jennifer Fulwiler over at NCRegister.com. I second her recommendation of Dr. Vost's book Memorize the Faith! (and Most Anything Else): Using the Methods of the Great Catholic Medieval Memory Masters. We also had Jennifer on a recent segment of Register Radio where we covered this book and a few others that are well worth reading. You can catch that podcast here.

How I memorized my favorite prayer in sixty seconds

by Jennifer Fulwiler

I recently made a commitment to say the Morning Offering every day. I’d been having trouble making time for longer prayer sessions, so I figured that the least I could do would be to start each morning with that short prayer, which says simply:

O Jesus,

through the Immaculate Heart of Mary,

I offer You my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day,

for all the intentions of Your Sacred Heart,

in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world,

in reparation for my sins,

for the intentions of all my relatives and friends,

and in particular for the intentions of the Holy Father.

It seemed like an easy enough resolution. What’s so hard about saying a few lines of prayer? Yet I found that I often wasn’t doing it, the main problem being that I kept losing my sheet of paper that had the Morning Offering printed on it. Of course I wasn’t bound by those particular words, and would just speak to God from my heart (as I always did in prayer anyway) on the days that I couldn’t find it. But it was frustrating because the particular words of that prayer helped me articulate concepts I had trouble expressing on my own, especially before my morning cup of coffee. Also, it was always inspiring to know that, by saying the Morning Offering, I was joining thousands of people across the world who were speaking those exact same words to God that day.

I’d been trying to memorize the prayer for a few days, but I wasn’t having much luck. Then I remembered Dr. Kevin Vost’s book Memorize the Faith! (and Most Anything Else). I’ve mentioned before how much I love this book. Using the simple exercises Dr. Vost lays out in the chapters, I had memorized the Stations of the Cross and all the Mysteries of the Rosary in a matter of hours; yet I’d never tried to apply the techniques outside of the examples in the book. I decided to give it a shot with the Morning Offering.

The memorization method that Dr. Vost uses was originally perfected by St. Thomas Aquinas, and involves creating detailed visuals anchored to a specific place. So, for example, if you need to remember to get eggs, jelly and orange juice at the store, you wouldn’t just visualize those three things in isolation; rather, you would picture them in different places in a specific room. You might imagine that you walk into a sparse room with white walls. When you first walk in, you look down to see that there’s a broken egg on the floor; to the left there is a window, and you see that someone has smeared jelly all across it; straight ahead, there is a coffee table with a glass of orange juice on it. (The visuals are supposed to be somewhat outlandish to make them easier to remember…although what I just described is a perfectly plausible scene at my house.)

Anyway, here’s the visual I created to get the Morning Offering in my brain:

O Jesus…

I walk up to a plain suburban house. Jesus is standing on the front porch, opening the door for me.

Through the Immaculate Heart of Mary…

Standing just inside the doorway is the Blessed Mother, who has her hands over her heart.

I offer You my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day…

Behind the Blessed Mother are four people. From left to right: A nun looking heavenward, her hands clasped in prayer (“prayers”); a man wearing a hardhat, hammering something into the floor (“works”); someone jumping up and down in glee, throwing confetti into the air (“joys”); St. John of the Cross, appearing weak and in pain (“sufferings”).

For all the intentions of your Sacred Heart…

I walk past the group of people to see a closed door. On the door there is a large painting of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

In union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world…

I open the door. To my surprise, it leads to a large auditorium, and there is a Mass going on in here, with people from all over the world in attendance.

In reparation for my sins…

I happen to have walked in during the Penitential Act of the Mass, and strike my chest three times as I think about my sins.

For the intentions of all my relatives and friends…

I look up to the front of the room, and recognize a bunch of friends and family member sitting in the front pew.

And in particular for the intentions of the Holy Father.

Over to the left there is a balcony that looks down onto the auditorium. I look over and see Pope Benedict sitting up there, smiling and watching the Mass.

That’s it! I went over these visuals about three times, and in less than a minute I had the prayer memorized. Granted, some of the pictures are a little silly, but that makes them easier to remember.

When I first started saying the prayer using this memorization technique, the visuals were slightly distracting; I was spending almost as much mental energy remembering the cues as I was putting my heart into the prayer. But as the days went on I found that the visuals faded into the background, and the words rolled off my lips more and more easily.

I wasn’t asked to promote Dr. Vost’s book; I’m recommending that everyone read it only because it’s been so helpful to me. I’ve gone on to use this memorization method for everything from store lists to to-do lists to facts and figures, but my favorite use is still for committing prayers and Bible verses to memory. It’s been nothing short of life-changing to have a way to quickly and easily commit to words of the Church to memory, so that they’re on the tip of my tongue whenever I need them.

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About Dan Burke

Dan is the President of the Avila Foundation, the parent organization of SpiritualDirection.com, the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation, Divine Intimacy Radio and Divine Intimacy Radio - Resources Edition, Into the Deep Parish Programs, the Apostoli Viae (Apostles of the Way) Community, and the FireLight Student Leadership Formation Program, author of the award-winning book, Navigating the Interior Life - Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God, Finding God Through Meditation-St. Peter of Alcantara, 30 Days with Teresa of Avila, Into the Deep, Living the Mystery of Merciful Love: 30 Days with Thérèse of Lisieux, and his newest book The Contemplative Rosary with St. John Paul II and St. Teresa of Avila. Beyond his "contagious" love for Jesus and His Church, he is a grateful husband and father of four, the Executive Director of and writer for EWTN's National Catholic Register, a regular co-host on Register Radio, a writer and speaker who provides online spiritual formation and travels to share his conversion story and the great riches that the Church provides us through authentic Catholic spirituality. Dan has been featured on EWTN's Journey Home program and numerous radio programs.

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  • (Mox) Crucesignata

    Memorize the Faith?  I love that book!  😀

  • 2luke36

    This is interesting because it is how the brains of autistic people function. By associative reasoning and visual images.

    • fairlady68

       Being autistic myself I really relate to your comment!

  • Mizue Inokuchui

    Thank you very much for good determinations.

  • Lyonsjoan

    Wow, what a precious way to memorize favorite prayers of our faith. I’ve been trying to memorize the Anima Christi on the back cover of the misselette. This sounds like an excellent way to visualize the prayer. I am a visual leraner and I do use this method fo remember lists, etc. Thank you for this practical way to “Memorize Our Faith.” Peace and God’s grace to you and all. Joan 

  • LizEst

    For those who are great at visualizing (which are most), this is a terrific way to learn.

    How about something for those that aren’t oriented in this direction?

    Thanks! Wishing you and all readers here a good Holy Week!

  • Gordon Shenkle

    Great prayer!! BTW, (and not to brag) but I have certain things that I have to do in the morning, every morning on my computer. So I have a folder of these things on my desktop. In that folder is a file with my morning prayers, and I’ve added this to that file. Thus I don’t have to memorize them… Thanks for the addition to my day!!!

  • Margaretmaryd

    consider adding— “and for the Holy Souls in Purgatory” —at the end of this beautiful traditional morning offering!

  • James A Steel

    What you describe is what my father used to call Pelmanism, a method he taught me and which I still resort to. Your morning offering sounds much like the morning offering of the Apostleship of Prayer, in which the point that the prayer is also joined to those of all the Apostles of Prayer throughout the world is important.
    Rememebering and praying for the general and the missionary intentions of the Holy Father is where I find I need memory help each month, especially as it is before that first cup of coffee you mention! Sometimes I just have to pray, “Whatever those intentions are.” Thank you Jeniffer, I always love what you write.

  • Filbracken

    Thank you for sharing. I have the same problem memorizing as well and most of the time I pray from the heart like I am talking to a friend. I will purchase the book and try it… God bless you…

  • Lenny-Jaeger@yahoo.com

    Anyone can memorize anything whether it is in your heart or not.    I memorized the altar boy latin portion of the mass. What a joke. I served in a parish occupied by the Redemptorist Order. (22 priests). I served 2 to as much as 5 masses per day. (Age10 to 13) I later studied  latin for two and a half years in a Benedictine seminary. I left the seminary just at the time that the church decided that we would observe the mass and all other church celebrations in the vernacular. So I prayed by rote with not understaning or meaning much of what I was saying. (Same old same) I memorized easily and well. Had to learn “Act of Confession” for First Confession and First Communion. I said “Oh my God I am “hardly” sorry for having offended Thee etc”, through out my grade school years. I had a a lot of guilt as a kid.
                   Pray from your heart. God will understand.

    a

  • Micho5

    Can’t wait to try this!!!
    Thanks.
    Have a Blessed Easter!

  • fairlady68

    I also saw this article on the NC Register Blog I get on my Kindle every day. (I can highly recommend this blog to anyone who has a Kindle and wants a convenient and accessible infusion of Catholicism every day.) J. Fulwiler is a great writer and I see her work on that blog quite a bit.

  • Jennifer, this is another ancient wonderful Morning Offering Prayer which I love most. It is prayed by the Eucharistic Apostles of the Divine Mercy.

    “Eternal Father, I offer Thee all my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day, in union with the Sacred Heart of Jesus, for the intentions for which He pleads and offers Himself in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass here and throughout the world, in thanksgiving for Thy favours, in reparation for my offences, and in humble supplication for my temporal and eternal welfare, for the wants of our Holy Mother the Church, for the conversion of sinners, the salvation of the dying and for the relief of the poor souls in Purgatory.  

    I have the intentions to gain all the indulgences attached to the Prayers I shall say, and to the good works I shall perform this day.  I resolve to gain all the Indulgences I can in favour of the souls in Purgatory. Amen

    Our Father…., Hail Mary…., I believe….. Glory Be…..”

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