Catholic devotions

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The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops defines Catholic devotions as "...expressions of love and fidelity that arise from the intersection of one's own faith, culture and the Gospel of Jesus Christ." Catholic devotions are not part of liturgical worship, even if they are performed in a Catholic church, in a group, or in the presence of (or even led by) a priest. The Congregation for Divine Worship at the Vatican publishes a Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy.

Devotion to saints, with the Virgin Mary as the most prominent example, is a key characteristic of Roman Catholicism. Catholic devotions have various forms, ranging from formalized, multi-day prayers such as novenas to activities which do not involve any prayers, such as Eucharistic adoration outside Mass, the wearing of scapulars, the veneration of the saints, the Canonical coronations of sacred Marian or Christological images and even horticultural practices such as maintaining a Mary garden.

Common examples of Catholic devotions include the Rosary, the Stations of the Cross, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Holy Face of Jesus, the various scapulars, the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Seven Sorrows of Mary, novenas to various saints, pilgrimages and devotions to the Blessed Sacrament, and the veneration of saintly images.

While the Catholic Church considers the liturgy as central to the life and mission of the Church and encourages Catholics to participate in it as often as possible, it also acknowledges the objective nature of the liturgy and encourages the cultivation of pious acts and personal devotions; the constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium states, "The spiritual life, however, is not limited solely to participation in the liturgy. ... Popular devotions of the Christian people are to be highly commended, provided they accord with the laws and norms of the Church, above all when they are ordered by the Apostolic See." It goes on to say: "These devotions should be so drawn up that they harmonize with the liturgical seasons, accord with the sacred liturgy, are in some fashion derived from it, and lead the people to it, since, in fact, the liturgy by its very nature far surpasses any of them."

Several factors shape the efficacy of devotional practices in eliciting feelings of devotion: a strong emotional appeal, a simplicity of form which puts them within the reach of all, the association with many others engaged in the same practices, and their derivation from the example of others considered to lead a holy life.

Since the Middle Ages, popes have encouraged devotions such as Eucharistic Adoration, the Rosary and the Stations of the Cross. However, the position of the Church with respect to the primacy of liturgy over specific devotions has always been maintained. On the other hand, pious devotions have influenced some important parts of the Catholic calendar such as the feast of Corpus Christi which arose after petitions by those following the devotion; or various Marian feasts that gradually appeared with the growth of devotions. Catholic devotions can form the basis of major community events e.g. the statue of our Our Lady of Zapopan attracts over one million pilgrims on October 12 each year as the statue travels through the streets moving from one Cathedral to another.

This page was last edited on 6 February 2018, at 04:10.
Reference: under CC BY-SA license.

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