I remember praying as a kid every night—okay, most nights– before I went to bed. I’d present a list of things I wanted God to help me achieve pretty much through early adulthood. As I got a bit older, I threw in a few ‘thank yous’ as well for the blessings I had gotten.
That has been the extent of my prayer technique. Not a huge evolution. I’ve frequently wondered, ‘am I doing this right?’ You too, right? Okay, there’s probably not a wrong way to pray, but I always thought there was a *better* way to pray.
In fact there is. And there’s an app for it. It’s called “Hallow.” One of the creators is Harrisburg native Alessandro DiSanto.
“Hallow is a Catholic prayer and meditation app that we recently launched this past December,” DiSanto told me during a recent visit back to his home turf. The Bishop McDevitt High School graduate now lives in the Chicago area. The idea started with DiSanto and some of his college friends shortly after they graduated from the University of Notre Dame and went into their separate career paths. DiSanto got into a career in finance and marketing.
“Over the past few years I really got stressed out, living in a constantly connected world, working all the time, constant email notifications. For us it was really about trying to find relief from the stresses and anxieties of everyday life. So we found our way into meditation.”
They wanted to add more depth to that and connect it to Catholic spirituality. DiSanto says they wanted to find out if there were any meditative traditions in the Church. There were a few. Or more.
“That is a pretty silly question,” DiSanto said. “There’s a two-thousand plus year history of monks and saints and going the whole way back to the desert fathers of a number of really beautiful contemplative traditions.”
They started incorporating those traditions into their own lives and combining them with what they saw on secular meditation apps that were faith free. That combination resulted in “Hallow,” an authentically Catholic meditation app.
“We talked to a lot of people—different users, even priests and other spiritual directors, and one of the big barriers to praying or finding new ways to pray is ‘man, am I doing this right?’ There’s this big fear and anxiety that builds up and often kind of takes over the whole experience. We’re not praying for you by any means, but what we try to do is give you the structure in a way that it’s easy for you to find your own voice in prayer.”
Hallow will guide you to a list of prayer topics, like joy, humility, love, or letting go. Or you can choose the daily prayers, like the novenas or gospels.
“You just pick five, then or 15 minutes, whatever you’re in the mood for that day. Hit play. You get optional background music if you like. Close your eyes and then we take you on an audio-guided prayer experience. You don’t have to worry about anything. You don’t have to follow along with words. You just close your eyes. We’ll provide the structure and the prompts and we’ll give you silence and a peaceful, safe place for you to develop your personal relationship with God.”
Hallow is accessible for iOS and Android. It features a free version and additional content for subscribers for $8.99 a month, or $59.99 a year.