Greetings from the Midwest! Today's question, easy breezy, lemon squeezy:
Here's a question you might think is silly. Maybe I'm being scrupulous, I don't know. Is it okay to say your nighttime prayers and then read a book? My mom said I should say my prayers "as soon as I wake up, before my feet hit the floor and last thing I do before I close my eyes at night." The problem is that I like to read in bed but, I often fall asleep reading thus not having examined my conscience or said my prayers. Is falling asleep without saying your prayers a venial sin? It seems disrespectful to say my prayers and then pick up a book to read. What do you think?P.S. I love being able to ask these kinds of questions without having to bother my priest with them. Hope you don't think this is too goofy.
The last time I checked, there were no laws governing bedtime prayers. While I applaud your mother both for her plan of prayer attack and her ability to stuff her prayer plan into your brain so as to become inextricable (hooray for Catholic guilt!), it's her plan, something she concocted on her own.
Don't get me wrong. It's a great plan. I highly recommend it. You've got the Son in the morning, as the old song says.
But falling asleep without saying your bedtime prayers is not a venial sin. It is merely a bad habit. (Although bad habits can also become venial sins! Maybe even mortal sins! Today's skipped prayers are tomorrow's missed Mass. I should put that on a T-shirt. Maybe a mousepad.)
Here are a couple of bedtime do's and don't's:
Do say your bedtime prayers.
Do say a rosary for your bedtime prayers.
Don't say a rosary to cause drowsiness. The rosary is a meditative prayer. You should be trying to fill your mind with thoughts of the life of Jesus as seen through Mary's eyes. This should not make you drowsy. If it does make you drowsy you should stop doing it until you can wake yourself up. Because if you keep saying a rosary to make you drowsy, or while you're drowsy, you'll become the Pavlov's dog of the rosary sleep aid. For you, this equation will take over your prayer life: rosary=dreamland.
The rosary is not dreamland. Those things all really happened.
Do read a book, if you like, after your prayers. Why not? You've said your prayers, you've examined your conscious. Now if you need something to read before you nod off do so with God's blessing. God invented reading. He wrote a couple of books, didn't He?
Here's a plan for you, if you're still in a state because your mother is scolding you in your head (go Mom!): Read a book about God! Read the lives of the saints (very exciting stories, political intrigue, chase scenes, violence, mayhem, and always a happy ending, since they're all dead and in heaven), the Bible, your missal, books about the Vatican or the Popes, read encyclicals, the Catholic newspapers, books about Mary.
I have a great book now about good old Mother Angelica, aka Rita Rizzo of Canton, Ohio. Did you know that as a child, angels flew her out of the path of a bus? It's right in the book!
PS. I wonder if your priest is glad to skip these sorts of questions. I doubt it. It's a relief to tackle the easy ones.