Saturday, January 16, 2021

Truly Pray(TM)

Not everyone likes my writing, something that doesn’t surprise me or particularly rattle me. I don’t find delight or inspiration in every piece of writing I pick up either, sometimes for reasons weighty and sometimes for reasons irrational. 

Occasionally someone writes to let me know that they thought I’d missed the mark in a piece or in a book. Several years ago one such critic let me know they found a set of Lenten reflections insipid and shallow, an opinion offered after having apparently spent Lent reading each day’s offering. I have the deepest respect for that letter writer, whose judgement was clearly not based on a cursory read and delivered without drama. Though I’m not sure my writing has improved in the interim, I do think of that note often, and ask myself if what I’m writing is weak or without depth. 

A few weeks ago someone wrote to tell me I was cancelled in his book for writing something contrary to Catholic teaching.  His prerogative to be sure (though this particular book had an nihil obstat - a declaration that it is free of anything contrary to Roman Catholic doctrines, faith, or I responded (I know, I know...) with a reference to the Catechism. His response was surprisingly thought provoking (though I suspect not in the way he imagined) "I often wonder if people like you Truly Pray..."

As I've just finished writing a short book on prayer, this is perhaps the key question. What does it mean to "truly pray"? And do I do it?

By "people like you" he means sinners. A point I won't contest, in prayer or otherwise. 

Also, I was captivated by the capitalization. Does he think this is a trademarked term?

Photo is of the space where I go to pray as best as I can, truly or not.


  1. I certainly do not find your writing shallow or insipid. Yours is one of several blogs that I have bookmarked and read regularly as part of my morning time with God. Now when you delve into physics, my eyes glaze over, but that's okay once in a while.

  2. People like you? I also wondered if he meant that you were capitalizing on your faith. Firstly, I know you are a person of deep faith. Your writing shares your insights with all of us. And it’s extremely enlightening to us. Maybe he feels challenged by his own admissions. Your blog is meaningful to many of us family it not. ❤️

  3. As I write this it is Sunday and the OT reading for Mass is Samuel being called and thinking it is Eli calling him when in fact it is God. It takes 3 tries, but eventually it gets figured out with the help of Eli, and Samuel says 'Speak Lord, I am listening'. How perfect is this post for me today!

    I think pretty much all of us pray in times of need, and many give thanks in prayer. The listening part of prayer is what I find difficult. I have to wonder what your critic means by 'Truly Pray'? Here in the South we might say to him 'Bless your heart'. Some times we say that to 'people like him'.

  4. Anonymous11:45 AM

    Thank you for your writing - I love it! Far from shallow.

  5. Wow! Has that critic TRULY READ and PRAYED your work?!! I agree with the four previous comments. Keep praying and keep writing. Doris

  6. Wow ! Interesting remarks from critical folks. Last year on Good Friday during a YouTube video my Methodist pastor quoted you and I thought it was interesting but since I did not really get your name, could not find you on Google. But right before Advent had a eureka moment on Amazon and said "that's Michelle whatshername!!!" The book did not disappoint and I have got last years Lent to read soon! So there, haters, you are missing the cool reading boat!(actually Barbara, not Chuck )

    1. I'm glad you found it, and glad that it was a good read!