Short at One End Coming to Christ

walking red

Image morguefile.com

I’m still trying to find my place as a pray-er among the residents at the women’s care facility. As an introvert and hermit, and with what little social skills I possess, the challenge is large.

I had been given a list of names of the women who are Catholic and ambled to each room to introduce myself. Awkwardly I’d pause to greet those in the corridors and sitting areas.

In the first room, the woman sat on the side of her bed, a wheeled oxygen tank between her knees and tubes under her nose. She was confused by my presence but not my purpose, and accepted my offer to pray with her. She’d scurried to the administrator’s office when I left her room. I learned later she had asked if I were real—and convinced that I was—asked if I would come again.

My next stop was with a very joyous developmentally-impaired woman. I’m not a touchy-feely kind of person and found her advances to hug and touch off-putting. I struggled to hold my ground against the urge to back away. She could not understand that I was offering prayer, telling me instead of her upcoming birthday and of many other happy things.

I knocked on two more doors, shamefully relieved that there were no responses, and headed upstairs. In the stairwell I stopped, overwhelmed. I was ill-prepared for the emotions that flooded my heart.

I was upset because of the confusion I felt in the presence of these women, and questioned if I lacked genuine love in my actions. I wanted to feel that my presence gave validation to Jesus’ love, and to feel pleasing to our Lord. I felt none of this. What I felt was the little love I had was barely enough to keep me moving to the next floor, let alone sufficient to be a presence to these ladies.

Leaning against the banister I steadied my resolve to follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit felt months ago. I prayed for those I had just encountered and for perseverance and the confidence to move on.

Later at home in my oratory I thought about my shortcomings of truly being the hands of Christ. I felt that the spiritual food I had to offer was not enough for the enormity of the summons set before me.

As I sat in silence, the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000—more than that counting women and children—came to mind. When I read the Bible passages (Mt 14:13-16, Mk 6:30-37, Jn 6:1-13) something struck me. Consistent in all three, Jesus did not say to the apostles that he would feed them—he said you feed them.

The apostles begged Jesus, for the good of all, to quickly send them away. There were too many in need for only a dozen hands to feed.

Jesus knew that with what little they possessed there was enough for him to work with. He didn’t change the venue of the challenge; he multiplied the bits and pieces that they had to meet the need at hand.

I only have a small amount to share—of confidence, courage, and love. But in the hands of Jesus, what little I have is multiplied enough to feed those standing beside me, and he gives me enough for another day.

There’s a miracle in here, somewhere. I’m just too startled to see it.

 

Thursdays Prayer for Priests Persecuted by ISIS

This prayer appeared in a similar version for Sisters and Nuns on Tuesday:

St. Michael the Archangel, defend and protect our Priests and monks in this time of great danger in Iraq. As they are persecuted for their faith, and in their fleeing from Islamic extremist, keep anger and hatred from damaging their souls. Help them to be a candle in this chaotic night of oppression that they may draw to themselves other Christians who, for the love of Jesus, have lost everything, fleeing genocide. Keep the hands of our priests strong and steady as they consecrate the precious body and blood of our Lord, and guard their souls should they face martyrdom. Let their blood, and that of all those murdered for the love of Christ, strengthen the resolve of all who remain in exodus. Beloved St. Michael bring our holy men to safety in this world, and for those martyred in the name of Jesus, the Nazarene, guide them quickly home into His loving embrace. Amen.

A post from the Editor of the Catholic Channel, Elizabeth Scalia, has these words to offer prayer for all those being persecuted by ISIS, http://www.patheos.com/blogs/theanchoress/2014/07/22/the-isis-effect-flattened-everything-is-gone

Tuesday’s Prayer for Sisters and Nuns Persecuted in Iraq

St. Michael the Archangel, defend and protect our Sisters and Nuns in this time of great danger in Iraq. As they are persecuted for their faith, and in their fleeing from Islamic extremist, keep anger and hatred from damaging their souls. Help them to be a candle in this chaotic night of oppression that they may draw to themselves other Christians who, for the love of Jesus, have lost everything, fleeing genocide. Guard the souls of our Sisters and Nuns should they face martyrdom, and let their blood, and that of all those murdered for the love of Christ, strengthen the resolve of all who remain in exodus. Beloved St. Michael bring our holy women to safety in this world, and for those martyred in the name of Jesus, the Nazarene, guide them quickly home into His loving embrace. Amen.

UPDATE: a post from the Editor of the Catholic Channel, Elizabeth Scalia, has these wonderful words to offer prayer for all those being persecuted by ISIS, http://www.patheos.com/blogs/theanchoress/2014/07/22/the-isis-effect-flattened-everything-is-gone/

(An earlier prayer http://www.patheos.com/blogs/prayergardens/2014/06/tuesdays-prayer-for-sisters-and-nuns-in-mosul-and-throughout-iraq/)

 

Prayer for Christians in Mosul and throughout Iraq

Prayer for Christians in Mosul and throughout Iraq

Lord God hear us as we pray, Mother Mary help us to persevere in our efforts, St. Michale protect us as we fight against the evil that threatens Christianity in Iraq. 

Hear our prayers that the Christians in Mosul, and throughout the Middle East, who endure persecution, including the burning of their churches, grief over injured friends and family, kidnapping, maiming, and even the death of loved ones, will feel the confidence and security that only our Lord can give in the face of extreme hardships. 

We pray for the cessation of violence against Christians within those borders. We pray that in that hostile region, leaders will protect their people, and individuals will protect one another. 

We pray that our Lord will shield them, give them comfort and peace in the midst of despair, that they persevere in their faith in the face of martyrdom, and for the Church to be the agent of hope and forgiveness. 

Amen

(2014, Margaret Rose Realy, Obl. OSB)

And this from Frank Weathers, another Patheos writer, of praying against the persecution.

Intimacy of a Name

She was a full-bodied woman and reminded me of Oprah, as Sophia, in the Color Purple. Her one eye watered and drooped much the same as that character. Her walk was a shambling gait of exhaustion.

Her niece had brought her shopping for clothes. The three of us exchanged niceties among the racks of plus-size blouses and stretchy jeans. With shortened breaths she told her niece she wanted a colorful top, she needed color after being so long in dingy gowns. I too was shopping for a blouse, one of modesty for my ample bosom.

Having made my selection, and passing by the two women, I headed for the fitting rooms. The Oprah-esque woman complimented me on selecting one particularly bright blouse of reds and magentas, said it reminded her of mornings. The niece asked where she could find one for her aunt. Delighted to assist, I pointed out the nearby rack.

When I returned I saw the two women had been joined by three others. They stood clustered together in the main isle. As they talked the three would touch the big woman’s hands as the niece steadied her aunt by the elbow. Among prayers and “Praise the Lord” they asked her if she had seen The Pastor…they were from the local Baptist church.

As I looked though the racks of sweaters and vests I overheard bits and pieces of their conversation—I really wasn’t eavesdropping. Apparently sister Oprah-esque had been in the hospital for several weeks and was still unwell. When I heard whispers of “go ahead and cry” I looked up. Several sets of hands offered tissues to the woman.

I felt compelled to approach and hesitated. To move toward the five black women would be to intrude into their circle of friendship and disrupt the private sharing of compassion.

I asked God to guide my words, approached the group, and apologized for interrupting. There was a hard silence as they all lowered their gaze on me. I looked to the woman who was ill and asked if I, too, might be allowed to pray for her. She took a few seconds to look into my eyes, then down to my neck where a two-and-a-half inch crucifix hung.  While she sized-me-up I spoke again, and through the silence asked if she would mind giving me her name that I might offer prayers on her behalf.

To give someone your name is entrusting them with something very personal. Joanne McPortland recently wrote about the power of a name in her columns on the O Antiphons. The Antiphons are the seven prophetic chants that evoke the Messiah by one of his titles. In her second post she wrote:

Names mean something. In the ancient world, the cauldron of cultures where Israel took shape, all words were performative: they called into existence what they described. Names and titles defined relationship. One’s true name was a word of immense power, guarded carefully. To entrust another with one’s name was an act of the deepest intimacy because of the vulnerability such a revelation implied.

Intimacy has depth, it carries trust. Those five women shared an intimacy; they knew each other by name and in life. When we hear our name spoken with kindness, the loveliness of hearing it makes our heart flutter. We think, maybe unconsciously, someone knows me and wants me.

The sick woman would be giving her name to a stranger. She would be entrusting spiritual intimacy to me, a woman she knew nothing about.

Finally she spoke, “Sweetness…my name is Mae.”

I exhaled—not realizing I had been holding my breath—and nodded.  I pulled pen and pad from my purse and felt blessed as she, seeing me writing, gave her middle and last name as well.

I thanked them all for allowing the interruption and for giving me the opportunity to pray for Mae. I walked away and heard their voices return to the chattering of friends. Before I left the store I gave the sunrise blouse to the cashier, and indicating, told her it was for Mae.

Once home, I taped the note with Mae’s name to the prayer board. It hung beside the handwritten column of others for whom I pray. The names on that board are spoken each morning for those in need. I know little or nothing about most of those I lift up to God. But there is a spiritual intimacy in praying for a soul, in speaking their name, and I gained a new affection with Mae.