Q. 1. I recently heard a reference to "devotional competition." What exactly does that term mean?
A. 1. First of all, it is necessary to understand the meaning of a devotion. A devotion is a religious form of prayer, be it a Novena, a Litany, a Chaplet, a Rosary, or another form of prayer that is associated with the Catholic faith. A "devotional competition" refers to the false pretext that one form of prayer is more powerful than another form of prayer. [Pretext means "A reason given in justification of a course of action that is not the real reason."]
Devotional competition comes in two forms:
1. The allegation that one prayer is more powerful than another prayer.
Example: The allegation that some of the many different Rosary prayers are more powerful than the recitation of the original Marian Rosary. This serves the purpose of leading the faithful away from the only Rosary that is a Church approved Sacramental.
The allegation that the daily recitation of a certain Novena provides a guarantee that one's prayer will be answered. The other Novenas do not provide that guarantee.
2. The impression that a certain prayer group is more holy than the rest of the Church because of their greater number of prayers.
Example: A group of Catholics gathers at a residence from sunrise to sunset to recite a 1,000 Rosaries during the day. (Ex. 20 Catholics say 50 Rosaries each.) They advertise this on the internet to imply that they are holier than other local Catholics. They also use this event to allege that their prayers are answered compared to those who only say one Rosary at the local Church.
These Catholics seem to have forgotten that it is not the number that counts; it is what is in the heart. He who prays to the Heavenly Father in the closet shall receive his reward in Heaven. He who brags about his prayers has already received his glory here on earth.
SUMMARY: When it comes to praying, it is not the object such as a Rosary that answers the prayer. It is not the saints who answer the prayers. It is by the grace of God, and no one else, that a spiritual blessing is granted to the individual. If you have received a healing, it is God that has healed you. The objects such as Rosaries or the Novenas are simply forms of prayers to approach God through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary or the Heavenly Saints.