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‘Quarter Hour Prayer’ for mindful living: A pathway to our roots

Author: Tessy Jacob, SSpS
Subject: Quarter Hour Prayer
Language: English, Spanish
Publisher: VivatDeus.org
Year: 2024

In the early years of religious formation as SSpS, as getting initiated into the heritage of Arnold’s family, the first prayer I learnt was ‘Quarter hour prayer’, a spiritual exercise developed by Fr. Arnold Janssen, our Founder. Coming from regional language background and English being a foreign tongue, it took few days to master the prayer. Something fascinated me on the process; the Directress had told, Fr. Arnold would pray this prayer every 15 minutes (‘15 minutes’ was better calculable than ‘quarter hour’) and more interestingly there was a clock which would chime at every 15 minutes! Like Fr. Arnold wondered about the mystery of Word becoming Flesh, my young mind too pondered on the mystery of someone praying at every 15 minutes!!!

Having learnt the prayer and the generously using it with the vigor of carrying forward the heritage of our congregation, we recited the ‘Quarter Hour Prayer’ while engaged in any chores. Years went by, the frequency of Quarter hour prayer reduced into table prayer, nearly with a gap of 12 hours. ‘Quarter Hour prayer’ was sung when the occasion was solemn. We added variety to it, by the community sharing one each stanza of the prayer. There were additions, where, at the end of the prayer we invoked the intercession of Saints Arnold, Joseph Freinademetz, Mother Maria and Josepha. In all that, until recently, I had not realized why a “Quarter Hour Prayer”???

Fr. Arnold Janssen- a Man of incredible wisdom
Fr. Arnold was tagged as ‘either a fool or a saint’. He was known for his temper and less sociable character. He was adamant about getting what he thought as the will of God. He took up a project which was a foolish decision before the world- founding a congregation, when the religious life was in decline. But no one could beat him for the perfection with which he established missions. His vision traveled before time. Before the modern world he was a fool; a fool who invested all his energy and time for no returns. But before God and in the Church, he was the right entrepreneur, who knew where to invest his time and energy for better returns. The Quarter Hour prayer, which he designed, was his way of life- a micro-Habit, which made him a legend.

Psychology says, the attention span of a human being ranges between 10-15 minutes. If the brain has worked intensively, it snoozes for a while and requires fresh energy to bring back. We all have experienced this phenomenon, be at a class, or listening to a sermon. I don’t think anyone is immune to it, except for the variation of duration. After 15 minutes, what do we need to do? Take a break. This break was the mindful living skill developed by Fr. Arnold, by saying a prayer, and getting back to the work refreshed!

Micro Habits: emerging practice to catch up with mind

Our thoughts can lead as the way we function. Dr. Joe Dispenza, a neuroscience researcher, says, “our thoughts are a redundant set of automatic, unconscious behaviors and emotions acquired through repetition; 95% who we are by age of 35 is a memorized set of emotional reactions, behaviors, hardwired attitudes, beliefs and perceptions that function like a computer programme, leaving just 5% to our conscious mind” (The Sunday Magazine, Nov.6,22). Given the odds, creating a new set of habits is daunting, but achievable. If we do not know where to start, start small. That’s where the micro habits come in. Micro habits are tiny little habits, that are easier to achieve and maintain. These can be undertaken in 60 seconds or less. They aren’t time consuming, or needs extra effort to practice; therefore, micro habits are easy to incorporate into our routine.

It is doubtless that the digital world and the nanotechnology have considerably impacted our original practices. We live literally on fingertips. Almost everything works on a ‘touch’. From audio books to guided mediation and audio-visual prayer services, we have a junk of things set before us ready to consume. Gradually we are led to a life of automated activities, which comes along as we move on. Digitally accompanied life has its own advantages and disadvantages. While the quantity of performance increases, the quality of living decreases. Lifestyle diseases, changes in behavioral patterns, shifting trends in relationships and social life, emotional fluctuation, cognitive affects, shallow spirituality, fear of losing out syndrome, erosion of values etc. are all invisible intruders of excessive technology dependent life. Earlier, ‘reading’ used to be the most mentioned hobby in a résumé. Currently that is an outdated activity. However, each one can take stock and see, how the capacity of uninterrupted attention in reading is affected by digital addiction. Digital Addiction is a silent killer.

Micro Habits extols the benefit of 1 percentage improvement theory. Which means, your success or failure today is directly proportional to all the small decisions you have taken in your life. The decision to write a book in a fortnight will be an overwhelming thought, leave alone the activity; however, starting small- one paragraph to one page a day- is an attainable goal. A healthy activity can be sandwiched between an addictive behavior, for instance, the tendency to check mobile frequently can be eluded by saying a ‘Hail Mary’ or a short prayer. After few attempts the brain automatically develop the loop to alter our former habit.

Quarter Hour prayer a tool for mindful living
The Quarter Hour prayer spirituality which was developed by Fr. Arnold Janssen, can be termed as a micro habit for mindful living in the present day context. The quarter Hour clock which he invented was a tool to stick to his practice. Mindful living is a character which is universally valued and endorsed across culture and nation. Definitely, Fr. Arnold lived in a time, where the rush of digital technology didn’t allure the mind or posed distraction with its myriads of attraction. Not having technological advantages could have been the distraction of their times, where one has to do everything manually and wait longer for the results. Here the physical labour is harsh.

In the book ‘Touching peace, the art of mindful living’ the author speaks about a similar experience she had in one of the Buddhist countries. A bell would ring at regular intervals, and hearing bell, people would stop and focus on the breath and whisper’ listen, listen’; Life is found only in the present movement. It shows the importance of mindful living, and how well the religious aspects contribute to live consciously.

As mentioned, micro habits can be undertaken in less than 60 seconds of time. The “Quarter Hour Prayer”, which holds the entire mystery of Triune God, with all its reverence, can be said with in 30 seconds maximum. How beautifully Fr. Arnold crafted a wonderful prayer which leads you into the realm of God’s love, through faith, hope and love! For a while, imagine Fr. Arnold sitting at his desk, drafting the constitution of congregation(s), which is very tedious and draining, and there at every 15 minutes he pauses for his favorite activity. The prayer that emerged from his heart would work as drinking a strong cappuccino of our times. Every quarter hour he was refreshed by the water from the springs of salvation. One who experienced the benefit of this micro habit, made necessary arrangements for others too, to experience this beautiful soul grabbing exercise.

We often speak about going back to our roots; perhaps, the roots of our congregation vests in the richness of “Quarter Hour Prayer”. “Quarter hour” may sound little impossible with the kind of engagements we are in on daily basis. The noise around is too much to concentrate on. However, we can implement the 1 percentage rule; after a few conscious attempts, a neural loop or pathway is formed in the brain, and that sustains the newly formed habit.

Habit stalking builds routines, which provides structures to our day, reducing cognitive and emotional overload. We need to bridle our babbling mouth and the entangled brain periodically. By leaving us such a treasured possession-an urge to pause at the right time when the attention is about to divide- he paved his path to sainthood. He lived what he preached- the quarter hour clock is the witness of his spirituality.

When we are weighed down with agendas and schedules, deadlines, and reminders, to- do lists and overdue assignments, professional pressure, and personal struggles, let us go back to our roots and immerse in the micro spirituality of our congregation, The “Quarter Hour Prayer”.

Quarter Hour Prayer
(A traditional Prayer recited by the Congregations, popularly known as Arnolds family, Founded by St. Arnold Janssen SVD)

L: God Eternal Truth
A: We Believe in you
L: God our Strength and salvation
A: We hope in you
L: God infinite goodness
A: We love you with our whole heart
L: You have sent the Word as Saviour of the World
A: Let us all be one in Him
L: Send us the Spirit of Your Son
A: That we may glorify Your name.


Tessy Jacob, SSpS

Tessy Jacob is a member of the Missionary Sisters Servants of the Holy Spirit. She is Indian in nationality, with an interest in evangelization through mass media. She is the joint secretary of the Indian Catholic Press Association and serves as the communication coordinator of her home province. Currently she is pursuing her doctoral research studies in media and communication from Xavier University, Bhubaneswar.

3 Responses

  1. Fui a alumna del Colegio de las Siervas misioneras del Espíritu Santo. Y la oración del cuarto de hora la recuerdo. Me incentiva este escrito a volver a hacerla… como hábito saludable pero más importante como recuerdo de Nuestro Buen Dios, recordarlo es lo que nos hace feliz y ser agradecidos.
    Muchas gracias hermana. Precioso su escrito

  2. Great! I like this micro habit….for mindful living….it is also Trinitarian . Mantras are shorter but think this is BEST . I remember, our saintly Sr. Salud in the Ph.No. who was faithful in this habit.
    Thank you, Sr. for sharing.

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