Nov 18, 2006

Praying with the Horse.... (in mind)

A very long time ago, a good Catholic nun told me this story in grade school. The nun first explained that we must concentrate on the meaning of the prayers we say, and not be distracted. She admitted it would be difficult. To show the difficulty, she told this story.

A woodsman was cutting trees in the forest when a stranger on a horse appeared. Dismounting, he asked the woodsman for a drink for himself and his fine horse. The woodsman took the well-dressed stranger to a nearby well and the two men sat down and talked as the horse finished drinking from the water bucket and began grazing.

In those days, it wasn't too long before the mens' conversation changed from a discussion of the weather, crops, and livestock to a discussion of religion. Soon the two men began to tell how they prayed while working. The stranger said he could not retire to a room and pray quietly, so he sang his prayers as he rode. The woodsman explained he prayed the rosary while meditating on the mysteries while he worked to chop down and debark trees.

The stranger sadly remarked he had problems in concentrating on his prayers, even though singing them helped The woodsman answered that he had learned to pray attentively when very young and could keep his attention focused on his prayers. The stranger vigorously objected that total attention was impossible but the woodsman vigorously disagreed.

Soon the argument flared into a bet. The stranger said he was so sure that it was not possible to totally focus on a prayer to the exclusion of everything else, that he would bet his horse that the woodsman could not say the Our Father without losing concentration. The woodsman accepted the bet and began to pray:
Our Father, who art in heaven,
Hallowed be Thy name.
Thy kingdom come,
They will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread,
... By the way, does the saddle come with the horse?
The nun proceeded to explain that if we lose attention during a prayer that we should not go back and repeat it, but should ask God to forgive us and continue with succeeding prayers. I've found that to be a good recommendation.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great story! I think I will tell it to my catechism class.