First Down (July 8, 2018)

Dear Friends,

God listens to every person’s prayers. Prayer is not simply trying to change God’s mind, rather prayer changes us. It can allow us to be open to the Spirit of courage, hope and peace in the midst of dealing with a heavy situation or simply asking for direction about a decision that needs to be made. God honors all prayer. It helps when we practice prayer, meaning that we make time to simply listen and/or converse with God. Pope Francis reminded us the other day that every person who follows Christ, needs to pray. He goes on to say that prayer does not have to be lengthy or emotional. It can be simple. I hope that every person can see that prayer is something we can all do.

Whenever I receive a call to go and visit a sick person in the hospital or at their home, I might be greeted by family members and friends. Ready to celebrate the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, I always enjoy the family joining in praying for their loved ones. There is such power in people gathered to pray for another. I get disheartened when family members call to have a visit for their loved one, but they see no need for their presence. It can feel like the priest should go do their thing over their loved one. I enjoy when the family has called to arrange for a time when everyone can gather to pray for their loved one. Now there might be serious reasons why the family cannot be present, but I am talking about the times when it seems there is no real desire by family members to be present.

I am moved at the times when family or friends who are present are either of a different faith tradition, have not practiced their faith in years or do not really express a faith experience and decide to join us in prayer. That is so powerful. Their love for the person is shown in their desire to ask God, a higher power, or a desire for a healing or peace to come upon their loved one. I am saddened at the times when they choose to excuse themselves from prayer, either feeling they do not belong or just not wanting to be present at that time. Now again there might be circumstances that might be going on that may cause some pain, I am speaking about the times that a decision is made just to not be present at prayer.

To show love for another person is the willingness to pray on their behalf to God. In other words, being their advocate. Every one of us by our baptism is called to be an advocate for others. I loved what the Pope said, our prayer does not have to be lengthy or emotional, just simply making an effort to speak and listen to God.

The day the Priest comes into your place, I invite you to feel free to join in prayer for your loved one and invite those present to join us, even if not of our faith tradition.

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Eric