Prayer

Washington At Prayer

There is an old tradition that Washington prayed in the snow at Valley Forge on Christmas Day 1777.  Certainly the wretched condition of the Continental Army in December of 1777, with a hungry winter beginning, would have driven commanders less pious than Washington to their knees.  However, Washington was pious and prayed every day.

The tradition rests on this account of the Reverend Nathaniel Randolph Snowden, a Presbyterian Minister in Philadelphia who lived from 1770-1851 and who wrote the following: Continue reading

Prayer in Time of Grief

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O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

 

 

 

Hattip to A Catholic Mom in Hawaii.  Since the death of my son Larry I have found this prayer by Father Robert Fox to be of comfort:

God of life and death, You have taken a beloved one from me.  My heart is very heavy.  I recall that Your Son, Jesus Christ, became man in all things except sin and that He groaned in sorrow at the death of His friend, Lazarus.  I unite my grief with Yours dear Jesus, as You stood at the tomb of Lazarus.

O Virgin Mother, you know what it was like losing your husband Joseph, and then your child.  dying suspended between earth and heaven, with a sword piercing your sweet soul.  To you do I come in sorrow, begging strength from your intercession, from you who fully understand what it is like to lose one so dear and close.

Share with me, dear Mother of God, the courage, the strong faith that you had in the future resurrection.  Even after Jesus came back to life and ascended into heaven, you knew you were to be left alone for many years before your own assumption into heaven. You comforted the Apostles as their Queen and Mother during those years. Grant comfort to me now as I sorrow in pain at the loss by the separation that has come as a result of the sin of our first parents and my own sins. Wipe away my tears with the merciful love of your Immaculate Heart as you unite me with my loved one through the grace of the Sacred Heart of your Son Jesus Christ.  Amen. Continue reading

Using Prayer as a Rhetorical Weapon

We all need prayers. Every soul praying for our soul is a net positive. As Catholics, it’s one of the main reasons we ask the Saints for their prayers. Yet there are times when the phrase “I will be praying for you” sounds more like spite than a genuine offering up to God.

I’ve noticed this more and more in Catholic blog comment boxes, and it has happened here on more than one occasion. A person of a more leftist orientation disagrees with a post written by one of our regulars, and after a semi-heated exchange, goes off in a huff, but not before saying that they will be praying for the person they’ve been debating. Instead of coming off as a “I’ll be praying for you so that God may provide his abundant mercy,” it sounds more like the person is saying, “I will be praying for your poor soul to recognize the merits of a higher tax rate for the wealthy.” The underlying tone is, I am a better person than you, so God better hear from me to save you from the hellfire.

I suppose we all do this from time to time. It was common while Christopher Hitchens was alive to hear Catholics declaring that they were praying for his conversion, or simply for his soul. Now there’s not necessarily anything wrong with that, and all people truly need our prayers. Yet there is a very fine line, and we can all run into the danger of using prayer almost as a rhetorical bludgeon. It might be a good idea to stop and ask yourself, am I offering to pray for this person because I am truly moved by the Holy Spirit to do so, or am I doing this to subtly indicate my own self-righteousness? Then again – and this is for the theological philosophers to muddle over – is prayer offered up even with bad motivation better than no prayer at all?

Never Give Up

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If anyone doubts the power of prayer, please read this story by a mother who prayed unceasingly for her wayward son:

My prayers were unceasing now.  Not a half an hour went by that I did not talk to God about my son and ask His Blessed Mother to keep praying for Donnie. He returned home at nineteen. If nothing else, at least he was home with us, I thought.  Shortly thereafter, my husband was transferred  to Virginia.  Donnie came with us.   

 
     Matthew settled into fourth grade at a Catholic school, Don was sent out to sea on a six-month tour, I kept up my never-ending conversations with God and the Blessed Mother, and Donnie returned to his destructive lifestyle.  Then, suddenly everything changed overnight.  “Mom,” Donnie said as I passed by his bedroom early one morning. “I want to talk to a priest.” Continue reading

Prayers, Answered and Not

I saw this on Facebook, posted by an atheist group, and in a simple and pungent way it hammers at one of our basic issues as Christians. We believe in an all powerful God. We believe that we can bring our supplications to Him in prayer, and that sometimes those prayers are answered in the affirmative.

But why, if we at times attribute the finding of some household item or a victory at a sporting event to prayer, do so many bad things, so many things that people doubtless pray about, happen? Even assuming similarity of scale, if one person is miraculously healed of cancer, why do a hundred others follow the natural course and die?

The answer, simple yet maddening to the mind which wants to know all, is that by worshiping an all powerful God we necessarily admit (as creatures neither all knowing nor all powerful) that we don’t understand all that God does. In a world of suffering, we at least have Christ’s example of prayer before us.

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done.”

Find God In 60 Days!

 

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I agree with you Klavan on the Culture, prayer over time tends to build belief.  I have had several people tell me that the force of habit of prayer has gotten them through rough spots in their religious life.  One fellow I know promised his mom that every night he would say a Hail Mary before he went to sleep.  He spent several years as a stone cold atheist, but every night he would heed his promise to his mom and say the Hail Mary, even though he thought it ridiculous.  Faith returned ultimately,  and he thinks he might have been lost forever without that nightly prayer for the intercession of the Blessed Mother. 

CS Lewis understood this well, judging from this passage of The Screwtape Letters: Continue reading

When God Says "No"

Msgr. Charles Pope is a Priest in the Archdiocese of Washington.  In addition to his duties as pastor at a parish in southeastern DC, he regularly celebrates High Mass in the Extraordinary Form at St. Mary’s in Chinatown once a month.  He is perhaps the finest homilist I have ever had the privilege of hearing on a regular basis, and he demonstrates why in this blog post from the Archdiocese’s website.  He tackles what may be one of the most difficult subjects that Catholics and indeed people of all faith struggle with: why does God seemingly say no to some of our prayer requests?  He provides a fantastic answer, and in the process gives some guidance on he proper disposition we should have when praying.

1. Sometimes, “No”  is the Best Answer – We often think we know what is best for us. We want to have this job, or we want that person to fall in love and marry us. We want to be delivered from a certain illness or receive a financial blessing. We see these as good outcomes and are sure that God must also see them this way. But God may not, in fact agree with our assessment as to what is best for us. And thus his “No” is really the best answer to our prayers.

For example we may always prefer that God answer our prayer that none of our children be born with any disabilities. But God may see that the experience of disability may be just the thing that we or the child may need in order to be  saved ultimately. St. Paul prayed for deliverance from some sort of physical affliction: Three times I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me, but he said to me,My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me. Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Cor 12:7-10).

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Cardinal Newman on Fasting

“And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He was afterward an hungered.” Matt. iv. 2.

{1} THE season of humiliation, which precedes Easter, lasts for forty days, in memory of our Lord’s long fast in the wilderness. Accordingly on this day, the first Sunday in Lent, we read the Gospel which gives an account of it; and in the Collect we pray Him, who for our sakes fasted forty days and forty nights, to bless our abstinence to the good of our souls and bodies.

We fast by way of penitence, and in order to subdue the flesh. Our Saviour had no need of fasting for either purpose. His fasting was unlike ours, as in its intensity, so in its object. And yet when we begin to fast, His pattern is set before us; and we continue the time of fasting till, in number of days, we have equalled His.

There is a reason for this;—in truth, we must do nothing except with Him in our eye. As He it is, through whom alone we have the power to do any good {2} thing, so unless we do it for Him it is not good. From Him our obedience comes, towards Him it must look. He says, “Without Me ye can do nothing.” [John xv. 5.] No work is good without grace and without love.

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Forgiveness, Mercy, and Charity for New York City Saint James Parish

[Updates at the bottom of this posting; latest update on 1-26-2010 at 12:24pm CST]

The Catholic blogosphere is currently in an uproar over an event that occurred at Saint James Church on Friday, January 15, 2010 A.D. when a Christian youth group requested and organized an event to draw more young adults into the Catholic Church.  This seemed as an innocuous request since the parish in the past held a classical piano concert in honor of the church’s founder Father Felix Valera.

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Are You Listening Madame Speaker?

Archbishop George H. Niederauer of San Francisco addressed on January 13, 2010 a free will defense of abortion by Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House:

In a recent interview with Eleanor Clift in Newsweek magazine (Dec. 21, 2009), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was asked about her disagreements with the United States Catholic bishops concerning Church teaching. Speaker Pelosi replied, in part: “I practically mourn this difference of opinion because I feel what I was raised to believe is consistent with what I profess, and that we are all endowed with a free will and a responsibility to answer for our actions. And that women should have the opportunity to exercise their free will.”

Embodied in that statement are some fundamental misconceptions about Catholic teaching on human freedom. These misconceptions are widespread both within the Catholic community and beyond. For this reason I believe it is important for me as Archbishop of San Francisco to make clear what the Catholic Church teaches about free will, conscience, and moral choice.

Catholic teaching on free will recognizes that God has given men and women the capacity to choose good or evil in their lives. The bishops at the Second Vatican Council declared that the human person, endowed with freedom, is “an outstanding manifestation of the divine image.” (Gaudium et Spes, No. 17) As the parable of the Grand Inquisitor in Dostoevsky’s novel, The Brothers Karamazov, makes so beautifully clear, God did not want humanity to be mere automatons, but to have the dignity of freedom, even recognizing that with that freedom comes the cost of many evil choices.

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Sounds like a plan.

“We should all pray … and often … to/through the intercession of Mother Teresa for the conversion of [Christopher] Hitchens.”

A First Thoughts reader, in response to Hitchens’ latest pathetic diatribe against Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

Luke Live, Day Two

I continue now with my shameless promotion of Father DiLuzio’s Luke Live performance.  Again, we were treated to a wonderful exchange of ideas, marked by a charismatic leader who helped enliven St. Luke’s Gospel and knit the narrative together.  Father DiLuzio offered us to begin with the choice of hearing entire chapters at once, or breaking it down into slightly smaller pieces.  Having seen yesterday the amazing continunity of a text that, for many of us, originally seemed a disjointed collection of brief non-sequitors, we voted roughly 55-45 to continue being inundated by large chunks of text.  And so he began his recitation starting from chapter 18, and the parable of the persistent widow.

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Patton’s Weather Prayer

http://www.metacafe.com/watch/3594882/ 

 

 

“Almighty and most merciful Father, we humbly beseech Thee, of Thy great goodness, to restrain these immoderate rains with which we have had to contend. Grant us fair weather for Battle. Graciously hearken to us as soldiers who call upon Thee that, armed with Thy power, we may advance from victory to victory, and crush the oppression and wickedness of our enemies and establish Thy justice among men and nations.”

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Veterans Day 2008

veterans_day

Lord Jesus, Mighty Warrior and Prince of Peace, through the intercession of St. Michael and Our Lady of Victory, we pray for the protection of our loved ones called to serve in time of war. By Your grace, o Lord, may they be strong and of good courage. And by your grace also, may we at home renounce all fear and anxiety, place our trust fully in your most Merciful Heart, and await in hope. For though we may walk through the shadow of the Valley of death, we shall fear no evil- You are with us.Grant a decisive and just end to this war, lasting peace for all nations, and the safe return home of all our loved ones. AMEN. (CatholicMil.org)

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