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Posts Tagged ‘prayer’

One of the most popular posts from the last few months is the one I did outlining the crisis in the Ivory Coast.  I thought I should update everyone.

As of two days ago, the former president, Laurent Gbagbo is reportedly still alive and under house arrest.  The country has just resumed cocoa bean production and export, but situation in the Ivory Coast is far from better.

New graves are discovered weekly and 30,000 displaced persons are still living in the mission outside of Duekoue, which I mentioned in the Original Post.  If you remember from the OP, that was a little mission, hardly equipped to handle that number of refugees.  When encouraged to go home, the refugees express fear that the attackers will return and kill them, so they remain on the grounds of the mission, the Salesian parish of St. Teresa of the Child Jesus.

But many doubt reconciliation can be achieved and entire villages in the west, close to the border with Liberia, remain devastated by abuses from both sides.

A UN human rights team has begun probing killings in Abidjan’s Yopougon district after UN workers on Friday found 68 bodies in 10 graves.

International Criminal Court chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said meanwhile he intends to investigate massacres by both sides in a conflict which raised fears of a Rwanda-style genocide.

Nearly 30,000 displaced people are sheltering in a Catholic mission at Duekoue in the west while more than 100,000 have taken refuge in neighbouring Liberia.

“They told us to go back to our homes but those who killed our brothers — are they not going to come back?” said one frightened resident at the mission.

The Salesians have set up an emergency appeal, mostly aimed at humanitarian relief agencies.  However, perhaps you can help as well.  Donate here.  (the site is in Spanish)

And as always, our number one obligation as Christians is to lift up our prayers to Almighty God, who is our help and our shield.

Read more about the situation in Cote d’Ivoire here.

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Long-time readers may remember that I like kneeling

From Rome Reports, the awesome Pope Benedict on why we kneel.

During the general audience, Benedict XVI  explained how praying on one’s knees isn’t a symbol of slavery or poverty, but a way to recognize one’s limits and the need for God.

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We have been at our parish since we moved to the state.  From the start, we knew we were blessed to have such a loving community be our parish home.  But one Sunday, perhaps a couple months after moving here, I was surprised and upset that the Prayer of the Faithful was hijacked by someone whose intent was to lecture us on how we should vote.  I do not now recall the exact prayer but it went beyond the usual prayer for our leaders, and prayer for social justice and veered off into something about “taxes being used to ensure the equitable distribution of wealth” sort of thing.  My husband and I exchanged shocked glances at the blatant attempt to editorialize the prayer.  So after Mass, I approached Fr. Tom, who didn’t know me from Adam, and told him that I really hoped that this was the last time that the Prayer of the Faithful was politicized.  He looked very surprised, I remember.  I still don’t know if I did the right thing, or the right thing in the right way, but that was the last time we ever heard ideology mixed into our Prayer of the Faithful.

I thought of that time when I came across this article on the purpose for a Prayer of the Faithful, and how it should be done.  Deacon Frank Agnoli, the Director of Liturgy for the Diocese of Davenport writes up a guiding reflection on this underappreciated part of the Mass.  No mini-homilies or political rants, please!

Prayer of the Faithful
And, together, we raise our voices in prayer. Baptized into Jesus Christ, we share in his priestly office of offering praise and thanksgiving to the Father, and of interceding on behalf of the world.

It is important to keep in mind how the Prayer of the Faithful is structured. The presider first addresses the people, inviting them to prayer.

Next, the deacon (or, in his absence, another minister) announces the intentions.  We call these “general” intercessions because they ought to be petitions that the assembly can, by and large, agree on, and because they do not focus on the needs of any one individual.

This is not the time for a “mini-homily,” the place to make a particular point; or to tell God how to answer our prayers. It is neither the time to pray for an unknown “special intention” (to which the assembly cannot assent) nor to offer prayers of thanksgiving (the Eucharistic Prayer makes that part of its structure and focus).

Rather, we are called to imagine the reign of God as proclaimed in the Scriptures and give voice to what we see: a world of justice, a world where the hungry are fed and the sick made whole, a world where death and tears are no more.  Finally, the presider closes the intercessions by addressing God the Father, through Christ — the one through whom all prayer is made.

Entering the Mystery
Do I really believe what I say I believe? What have I done to learn more about this faith that I profess, about being a Christian?

Do I hear in the Prayer of the Faithful not a list of demands that we make on God, but instead a call to action?  If I dare pray for justice, for healing, for the drying of tears — what am I doing, filled with God’s grace, to make those things come to pass?

The Ars Celebrandi
As one who leads prayer, do I let my body reflect what I am doing? Here, as well as throughout the liturgy, do I look at the people when I am addressing them? Where is my gaze when I am addressing God?

As a deacon, does my liturgical role of being the one who announces the intercessions truly reflect my ministry of charity outside the liturgy — that I am the one who knows the cares of the community so well that I can give voice to those needs before God? Or is there a disconnect between what I do within the walls of the church and outside them?

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Pope Benedict making the Sign of the Cross

 

Over at Catholic Answers, I came across this this link on a forum posting.  The minister at a very large Methodist Church in Texas has a series of sermons about different Christian faith traditions, in very charitable and ecumenical presentations. 

The series started with his appreciation of Roman Catholicism.  I listened to it and was very moved.  Not only would Protestants brothers and sisters benefit from it, but we Catholics as well.  Overall, the pastor gave a very fair presentation.  (A couple of his historical dates seem influenced by his Protestant background, e.g. the date of the establishment of Roman papal authority.)  But his historical overview is generally acceptable.  It’s what he has to say about the things he appreciates in Catholics where this sermon gets going, and surprising.  I’ve never known any Protestant to admire our Purgatory beliefs, for instance.   What else does our Methodist brother appreciate?  Not surprising: our commitment to life issues, our steadfastness against cultural attacks, and our work with the poor.  Oh, and of course, Authority.  Surprising: Sacramentals, liturgy, reverent ritualized prayer, candles, and the Sign of the Cross.  He even tackles the sex abuse scandal.

I got a bit choked up listening to it.

Here is the minister, Dr. Ed Robb, preaching on “Why I appreciate the Roman Catholics“.  (there is a video option as well).  Take time to listen to it; it just may make you appreciate your faith more.

The Woodlands UMC

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It’s been awhile since I’ve seen any good news coming out of Hollywood, so I was pleasantly surprised to find this gem of an article linked over at New Advent.   The Irish actor Pierce Brosnan, known to many as James Bond (and to me as Remington Steele), openly shares his faith with an interviewer, attributing good in his life to God and telling how his prayer life sustains him.  He credits his Catholic upbringing.

In an interesting new interview with RTE.ie to promote his patronage of the new Irish dramatic art academy The Lir, which will debut this fall at Trinity College in Dublin, Brosnan credits the power of prayer with guiding him through life’s ups and downs. 

“(Prayer) helped me with the loss of my wife to cancer and with a child who had fallen on tough times. Now prayer helps me to be a father, to be an actor and to be a man,” Brosnan told the Irish website.

“It always helps to have a bit of prayer in your back pocket. At the end of the day, you have to have something and for me that is God, Jesus, my Catholic upbringing, my faith.”

Pierce’s first wife, Cassandra Harris, died of ovarian cancer 20 years ago. The son they had together, Sean, was in a serious car crash a few years back in California, but luckily he survived and is thriving again.

Brosnan and his mother left his hometown of Navan, Co. Meath in 1964, when he was 12 years old, for greener pastures in London.  His father left the family when he was only two, so times were tough.

“In a way (my life) all leads back to a little boy in Navan, my home town on the banks of the Boyne.

Sometimes, it has been painted in melodramatic tones but it was a fantastic way to be brought up. The Catholicism and the Christian brothers, those are deep-rooted images and the foundation for a person of some acting skill,” he says.

“God has been good to me. My faith has been good to me in the moments of deepest suffering, doubt and fear. It is a constant, the language of prayer … I might not have got my sums right from the Christian Brothers or might not have got the greatest learning of literature from them but I certainly got a strapping amount of faith.”

Brosnan also feels that faith will help the Irish people escape the gloom and doom of recession.

“But there is one thing that the people of Ireland know how to do and that is to survive. You have to keep your faith and stay optimistic,” he feels

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having said all that, here is a gem of a quotation I just read (belatedly, it seems).  From an article on former MTV reality star and now mother of 6, Rachel Campos-Duffy, it forms the oppositional yet complementary Lenten prayer activity for busy mothers.

Running a household with six children can get chaotic and even overwhelming at times, so Campos-Duffy once lamented to a priest during Confession that her prayer life was dismal. The priest then told her that her “very life as a mother is a prayer,” which completely changed her perspective: “He said that everything I did at home—whether it was changing a diaper or wiping a nose—whatever it was that I was doing was a prayer to God.”

Campos-Duffy concluded, “For a busy mom, I think it’s understanding that prayer can be very short and immediate. Even (when) . . . we’re running out the door, we just stop for a second. There’s a holy water font right by the door and we bless ourselves and say ‘Jesus, I trust in you.’ And then, out the door. That can make all the difference. And I’ve got to sometimes stop in the middle of the day, in the middle of being upset at a child and regroup myself and think about what little treasures they are and how I would probably give my left arm when I’m 60 to have this moment back. It is about finding those moments throughout the day.”

God bless our mothers.

h/t New Advent

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As I was saying to my Bible study group a couple weeks ago, I have struggled personally to make quiet time for prayer.  Between running a family, working, volunteering, blogging, Bible study, and going, going, going, I will allow myself to forget to make quiet time to spend with God.  Oh sure, I’ll remember a quick morning prayer, short prayers throughout the day, and evening examinations, but many days, unless I stay determined, I may not have actual quiet time to simply be in God’s presence. Knowing this weakness, I try to give myself opportunities throughout the week, especially walking or hiking. 

One of my blogging acquaintances first put this in my mind several years ago when she pointed out that she was spending so much time blogging that it was interfering with her prayer life, so she had decided to take a break from her blog.  That shook me because I had become accustomed to thinking of my blogging time as time spent with God.  I realized that I was mistaken, and I was grateful to her for mentioning this, because clearly I myself had rationalized my online time as prayer when in fact, it wasn’t.

A second opportunity for growth came when I read that Dr. Michael Barber teaches his classes at John Paul the Great University:

Prayer should be more than a monologue–a litany of requests. As I tell my students, we need to talk to Jesus more than we talk about Jesus. But if your idea of prayer is simply rattling off requests, you miss the point.

Now, honestly, I don’t rattle off requests to God when I pray…although I have a lot of “bless him, her, this and that”s.  But the comment from my blogging friend and Dr. Barber’s teaching got me to thinking about how much time I actually make for God.  When I took away the time I was spending talking about Him, it wasn’t very much time.  Dr. Barber was right on the mark.  I was spending more time talking ABOUT Jesus than talking TO Jesus.  It was a spiritual kick in the pants and I’ve been mindful of it for the last year to two.  

I realize that I am not alone is this.  So many of us practicing Christians think we know God because we study and talk about Him.  The Christian rock band Remedy Drive even wrote a song called Get to Know You the lyrics of which are:

I heard so much of you I wrote a book
Thick with thoughts of you that I heard were true
The critics read my work and they reviewed
‘He wrote of things he’d heard but never really knew’

I’d say it’s time that I get to know you
More then just what I’ve been told
I’d say it’s time that I get to know you
I want to know from my soul

If a lack of intimacy with God is a prevalent problem even among the faithful, how can we repair that?  What can we do to draw closer to God?  Dr. Barber’s advice is helpful when he goes on to write:

Spending time in his presence through contemplation helps us remain with him and helps us hear his voice so that our prayer is not simply about what we say to him.

…We need to be still. We need to place ourselves in God’s presence.  (italics mine)

Isn’t that beautifully said?  “….place ourselves in God’s presence.”  In other words, quiet our minds, stop our hands from fiddling, our eyes from darting, our mouths from prattling.  Place ourselves in God’s presence and allow Him to come to us.  Can we be brave, humble, or trusting enough to receive? Can we put away our defenses, our rationalizations, our attacks, our petty grievances and constant desires and let God wash over us?  God will come to us when we make ready for him. 

…and behold the Lord passes, and a great and strong wind before the Lord, overthrowing the mountains, and breaking the rocks in pieces: but the Lord is not in the wind. And after the wind, an earthquake: but the Lord is not in the earthquake.  And after the earthquake, a fire: but the Lord is not in the fire. And after the fire, a whistling of a gentle air.  And when Elias heard it, he covered his face with his mantle…”

….because God was in the whisper.

 

Next week is Lent.  Take yourself to Adoration, or walk among the trees.  Sit in the sun, or lie in the dark.  Turn off your computer, your television, your IPhone, your stereo.  I promise to do the same.  Let us make our Lenten offering to the Lord be our stillness, placing ourselves in His presence, awaiting the whisper.

 Come Emmanuel.

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