Today we celebrate the feast of Saint Dominic, a Spanish priest and founder of the Dominican religious order of monks, who died in the year 1221. Today, over six centuries later, there are still over 5,000 Dominican friars.
St Dominic’s own way of prayer was to express his devotion with gestures, including bowing deeply before the altar as if Christ were physically present, lying face down on the ground, and praying with his hands wide apart. Physical touch was important for him, hence his encouragement of use of the rosary.
We often think of prayer as something thought or spoken, but prayer is also expressed in many other ways. There has been a modern renewal of interest in combining prayer with physical movement, which we can call “embodied prayer”. It occurs in many different religious and spiritual traditions, and across the whole range of Christian churchmanship. Many Christians genuflect towards the Blessed Sacrament, the gesture rather like a single-legged squat at the gym! And if you come to St C’s on Good Friday, you will see priests doing ‘full prostrations’ on the floor. In evangelical churches there can be enthusiastic hand-raising.
So …. have a look at these videos, and think about your own posture when you pray. Perhaps experiment with something outside your own tradition and see how it feels.
- A lovely 3-minute demonstration of how to pray with your body by the United Methodist Church
- Christian Comedian Tim Hawkins’ hilarious guide to different types of ‘hand-raising church’
- Missy Nobels provides a simple guided movement meditation to the song, “Washing in the River”