There should never be a competition between private and public worship. Each nourishes the other. Since the Second Vatican Council there has been a strong emphasis on Christ in all devotions. For example, a prayer or novena to a certain saint should lead you into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ. A saint is a concrete example of how to follow Christ. Seen in this light, devotions should lead to healthy spirituality.
Holy Eucharist is the source and summit of Christian living. At Mass not only do we worship God, but we also grow as a community in a bond of fraternal charity. To prepare for Holy Mass, Catholics are encouraged to pray, meditate, and read verses from Sacred Scripture. This helps the person to mentally prepare for the supernatural. In the same vein, after receiving our Lord, it is helpful to perform acts of thanks in order to be conscious of the tremendous gift of the Lord you received. In essence, private devotions should lead to the Eucharist, and in turn, the Eucharist should fortify our private spirituality.
This is especially true when a person goes on retreat, makes a pilgrimage, or visits a special place of worship, like a shrine. Through these special environments or actions the person becomes more conscientiously aware of his surroundings and becomes more open to the promptings of the Lord. One’s spiritual life can be reawakened.
During Lent, many parishes foster different kinds of private devotions to rekindle spiritual life in the faithful that has gone flat during the year. Public praying of the stations of the cross, parish missions, and solemnly preached novenas can awaken the person to participate more fully in the Mass, to go to the sacrament of Penance, and thereby to become a better Catholic.
Private devotions are bad when they don’t lead to Christ. A special warning should be given about chain prayers. Like chain letters, there is bargaining that is attempted with God through the saint being honored. No one ever has to sign up a certain number of people to pray a certain prayer, to do a certain action, or to publish a thank you. This belongs to superstition, which is not promoted by the Church.