Is Online Prayer “Real”? Catholic Sista Martina Kreitzer Weighs In

At least ten times a day, I type some version of the words, “I will pray for you”.

I’ve been asking myself recently if I really mean those words when I say/type them.

In an age where we are increasingly overwhelmed by so many messages, so much information, and so many demands upon our time, is it truly possible to create a community of prayerful support online? In my heart, when I stop to ponder the question without pausing to check my Facebook updates or RT someone on Twitter, I realize that my personal response to the question is a resounding, “Yes!”

But I thought I would reach out to others on this topic and was thrilled when my “Sista in Christ” Martina Kreitzer of the phenomenal blog CatholicSistas.com agreed to chime in.  Martina is a mom, a Catholic new evangelizer, and a completely “real” person. I think you’ll enjoy hearing what she has to say on this topic. I also welcome your input in the combox below!

Q: Please briefly introduce yourself and your family to our readers. 

I am married to my amazing husband Neil and we have six kiddos, ages 16, 11, 7, 5, 2, and eight months. We are in our third year of homeschooling after many years in public schools. In my community, I am currently serving in my third and final year on my parish pastoral council, and my second year of serving as the chairperson. I work closely with our priests to help keep them up with the pulse in the pews. Online, I am the creator/founder/blogress {title given by Devin Rose} of Catholic Sistas, and I sit on the executive board for Austin Catholic New Media.

Martina Kreitzer

Q: Tell us about your Internet apostolate — how did you get started and how has your site developed and grown in the past few years?

I would say my main apostolate online is Catholic Sistas. To give back story on the basis for the blog, I should say that I have participated online for eighteen years, most of that time spent in Catholic online communities. Many of the contributors, including myself, all “met” on one of the largest parenting websites. And many of us were like the women we are trying to reach through our posts. We were the product of several generations of poor to no catechesis growing up. We visited the website online Catholic forum with our own baggage of misconceptions. There were many women in the group who were happy to share the Faith, but who were not going to bend the truth to tickle our ears {or eyes, as it were}. One by one, our walls came down and we were challenged by those women to learn and study – no more lamenting our non-faith formation in our formative years. We just had to pick ourselves up and commit to learning. Along the way, I would see the same kinds of questions come up about contraception and this misperception that the Church is just made up of old men who wear funny hats telling women what to do with their bodies. I remember thinking to myself “we really need a grassroots movement to address these issues!” Why was NFP some well-kept secret? Why didn’t we know these things as women? What does the secular meaning of empowerment really mean if we, as “empowered women” have NO clue why or how our bodies work? It just didn’t register to me on a logical level. And while I would have jumped at the opportunity to start a blog back then, God did not reveal that to me until much later. Looking back, I can see how those brand new friendships needed to grow and mature and stabilize so that they would be able to weather the demands of the upcoming blog.

The built-in camaraderie going into the creation of the blog helped us to stay focused. The idea to start the blog may have been mine, but it belongs to all of us. We’re all invested in sharing the Faith with others and meeting them where they are.

Q: On the topic of prayer and social media, what are some of your thoughts on the prevalence of this type of communal prayer and its benefits?

I say bring it! Can I say that? Will Tony Horton come find me? :D Ok, seriously, prayer has become one of my all time favorite things. I believe I have social media to thank for bringing that to my attention. I am the type of person who needs the burning bush to realize the “duh” things, but I can honestly say that because of other’s examples, I have seen prayer move mountains. I think many of us who are engaged in some kind of online community have seen the prayer requests from friends or who have asked for prayers. What sets it apart from IRL {in real life} prayer is you have this ability to instantly connect with friends, family, or acquaintances {however you define relationships online} and put them on alert to a certain prayer request.

Q: Can you give some examples of this type of prayer in your own life and in your apostolate?

In my own personal life, I tend to feel more confident sharing prayer requests online instead of in person. One thing that many of us do online that I believe is still kind of “new” and misunderstood is to acknowledge a prayer request by a simple “like” on Facebook or a +1 on Google Plus or “favorite” a tweet on Twitter. Our lives are busy and sometimes we can offer up a simple prayer upon reading about a prayer request. Sometimes I have time to comment, others I don’t. I always “like” to acknowledge the request. During face-to-face group prayer, I tend to reflect on others’ petitions. I may occasionally throw out a petition of my own, but for the most part I am silent. One thing that I have improved is the ability to ask people if they need me to pray for them and whether they want me to add their intention to my on-going prayer list. Often we can feel powerless to someone’s situation, forgetting that God is in full control of the situation. All He asks of us is to simply be Christ for them. I now understand the very least I can do is offer to pray with them and for them. I’ve also learned to ask for prayers, too. J

As for prayer on the blog, we do a lot with it. In fact, I can confidently say it is the backbone of what we do. Personally, I am often in contemplative prayer mode through the day, thinking and mulling through what God is calling me to do. For me, from a leadership standpoint, it means making sure that I am seeking out advice and direction for myself as well as the blog to hold myself accountable. I seek spiritual direction for the blog as well as leadership. I have an executive board that I share what was discussed during spiritual direction. I encourage board members as well as all the contributors to keep themselves armed with the sacraments because the nature of what we are doing tempts the evil one to attack us. And the attacks have been many. We are well aware what we do upsets Satan.

As a blog, we take prayer petitions for various lists. We have General IntentionsHomeward Bound {for friends and family who are Christian and we would love to see come home to the Church}, Teardrops {those who have lapsed from the Faith}, and Heavenly Ambassadors {for children who have returned home with our Heavenly Father, through miscarriage, infant or child loss}. Add to that, last May we began a counter campaign to the counter campaign {are you following? J} that Planned Parenthood did against 40 Days for Life. We countered each of Planned Parenthood’s abortion-promoting petitions with our own and, because we can not foresee the plans God has for us, it was to become the beginning of our ongoing 40 day prayer campaigns that start at the beginning of every other month. We have prayed for the shepherds of Church, the Year of Faith, for our nation, our priests, and we will be going off schedule to start a new campaign on February 22, the Feast of the Seat of Peter, to pray for the Church as we transition to a new Papa to lead us with continued fervor and zeal.

Q: How do you foresee technology impacting upon the prayer lives of the faithful, and also on those who have yet to come to know Christ in their lives?

I think, like anything out there, technology has the potential to be addicting and can lessen our faith life. I don’t want to paint it as thought it is the cure all for prayer life. Technology serves to enhance what is already in place. It can also inspire us – in my case, it was pivotal in helping me understand what my shortcomings were and may still be. I want to offer hope to those who view social media negatively – it doesn’t have to be that way. We have the power to control how it affects us spiritually. Take a break when you need it. Limit it when you see you are overusing it in a way that takes away from your primary vocation. Walk away when you feel you can’t be charitable. Hold yourself accountable by surrounding yourself with people who will tell you the truth and inspire you to – if I may steal a phrase from Matthew Kelly – be the best version of yourself. J

Q: Are there any additional thoughts or comments you’d like to share on this topic?

I love to encourage a community feel of the blog through our various social media outlets like FacebookTwitterPinterestInstagram {@CatholicSistas} – so be on the lookout for more community style prayer such as praying a Divine Mercy Chaplet or a rosary online. We may even offer a Dying to Self thread where readers can share daily sufferings for various intentions. Where some may say “oh, that’s showboating your suffering!” I am inclined to agree in one sense, but also contend that it can be a beautiful way to show how we can unite our small sufferings to Christ on the Cross and offer hope to someone else who is in need of those graces. We also have to consider how our openness to pray in public places may be the example for lapsed and non-Catholics to ask us questions and ::fingers crossed!:: they may by the grace of the Holy Spirit, come home to the Church.

About Martina Kreitzer

Martina is a cradle Catholic, wife and mother to six kiddos – one who was recently welcomed in June 2012. She decided to homeschool in 2010 after many years in public schools. She is the creator of Catholic Sistas which focuses on a feminine perspective of the Catholic Faith. The website was the result of an existing camaraderie by the contributors in a Catholic women’s group she created. Additionally, she can be found blogging for and sitting on the Board of Directors for Austin Catholic New Media, an apostolate aimed at bringing others to know Christ through the use of social media in the Austin Diocese. Lest you think she spends all her time online, Martina enjoys getting out into the community by serving as the Pastoral Council chair for St. William Catholic Church – the same church featured in Minor Revisions featuring friend Jennifer Fulwiler. She is constantly on the lookout to make her parish as welcoming as the small town she grew up in East Texas. This task is not easy given that St. William is the largest parish in the diocese, serving well over twenty thousand parishioners. She loves Jesus, coffee, bacon, chocolate, photography, more bacon, evangelizing, and the company of those unafraid to use their sense of humor. Follow Catholic Sistas on TwitterInstagramPinterest, and their Facebook fan page.

About Lisa M. Hendey

Lisa M. Hendey is the founder and editor of CatholicMom.com and the bestselling author of The Handbook for Catholic Moms and A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms.

  • http://raisinglittlesaints.blogspot.com Erika D.

    I love this! AND I agree wholeheartedly on the greatness of online prayer requests. Actually, I think I know about 25% of my FB friends, they are for the most part all Catholic and we love asking for prayers for one another. Personally, it has been hard keeping track of all the people that ask me for prayers so I keep a journal, it’s actually our family’s, where I write down the request or just the person’s name to pray for their intentions. :) Great interview, love Catholic Sistas, from the first time I read it! Thanks for all you do for us online Catholics, Martina!

  • http://northerncffamily.blogspot.com Allison H.

    Wonderful! When I first tuned in to Catholic Sistas, I promised myself that when I typed “praying” that I would, that very moment, say a Hail Mary for that exact request. Thank you again for all you do, Martina!

    • http://www.catholicsistas.com MartinaCatholicSistas :)

      Thanks, Allison. :)

  • Pingback: “I will not forget the lessons you have taught me…” – UPDATES

  • http://designsbybirgit.blogspot.com/ Birgit J

    I, too, am a big fan of online prayer sharing. From my personal experience I have seen times of great trial turn into opportunities for reaching out to fellow Catholics (and non-Catholic brethren). The shared concern, ‘likes’ of acknowledgement, and thoughtful followup comments have been the backbone of new friendships – even with those who have never met IRL. This creates a continuity of faith that goes far beyond what we can physically see and touch. I’ve seen healing, comfort during tragic events, and loving concern. We can also help hold each other accountable to answer the summons to ‘love one another’. Thank you, Martina, for your vision and for your wonderful blog!

    • http://www.catholicsistas.com MartinaCatholicSistas :)

      :)

  • http://www.catholicsistas.com MartinaCatholicSistas :)

    Yesterday afternoon a good friend texted a few of us, telling us about her daughter’s severe allergic reaction to cashews. I immediately asked others for prayers and before we knew it, a LOT of people were praying specifically for this sweet little girl and the family. Though the night was rough, she was anointed by our parish priest before being life flighted to another hospital and we were there with them in spirit, prayers and all. Divine Mercy Chaplets were storming heaven as were off the cuff prayers, well wishes to mom to stay strong, and rosaries. As of right now she is doing better, still puffy, but doing much better.

    One reason reaching out for prayers like this is important is because you *know* there are others are praying for you – and that can be a comfort during the most stressful times. It doesn’t necessarily remove the stress of the situation, but it’s nice knowing others are praying for you and your loved ones. You can literally feel yourself being lifted up.

    Pray for sweet Annabelle, please and thank you. +JMJ+


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