March 8 | comments icon 1 COMMENT     print icon print

9-SEMINARIANS-PRAY

How prayer can help you find peace

— In times of sadness and loss, the power of prayer can help us to come together and reaffirm our Faith

As Catholics, we are united in the Faith but could be said to have frequent disagreements on the details. However, in recent weeks, we Catholics have been united in confronting something which includes sadness, a sense of loss and indeed of something approaching grief. Against this backdrop the swift attacks on Catholicism were predictable, but somehow were reduced to that which might be called ‘more of the same.’ We have come to expect them.

On this particular occasion, they were met by those who spoke publicly and eloquently on our behalf, such as Professors Tom Devine and John Haldane and members of the Catholic media, and thus, those attempted attacks seemed to become little more than a shrill and all too predictable background noise. An example, perhaps, of strength in adversity.

In these last few troubled weeks, I have had many conversations with Catholic friends, all of them sharing the same sense of sadness. But in the course of these conversations, in the midst of that feeling of sadness that threatened to engulf us all, I found that we were re-examining the basic tenets of our Faith, the ways in which we can safely pass it on to the young. More than once, the power of prayer was mentioned and, more than once, that little story, much repeated by parish priests of a bygone age was recalled. Do you remember it? It described how a priest noticed an old man who lingered in the church long after the congregation had gone and who could be found sitting or kneeling then, or at various times during the day when the church was open. On enquiry, the old man explained his presence before the tabernacle: “I just talk to Him,” he said. “And He talks to me.”

So very simple and yet so profound. I had a very dear friend who found the same strength in prayer and who always managed to spend one hour of her day in front of the Blessed Sacrament. She was not overtly pious, but described it as ‘the happiest hour of my day.’

 

There was a time, not so long ago, when our lives reflected that of the old man in the story. They were the days when ‘paying a wee visit’ was a constant part of our lives. Most churches were open during the day in that particular era, and it seemed the most natural thing in the world to pause in our daily round and take the time to pay that ‘wee visit,’ perhaps to lay our worries at the feet of our Maker, to pray for guidance or perhaps as an act of thanksgiving if our prayers had been answered.

I can remember, as a child, taking a break from playing to make my own ‘unofficial ‘wee visits.’ We lived yards from the church, so it was all very convenient for me to visit undetected. I was convinced that God might be very lonely in that big church, if He was short of visitors, and that I could provide Him with a bit of company.

Today, people complain that since churches have to remain closed during the day for reasons of security, the aforementioned visits are rarely possible. Using one of the books produced by the Scottish Churches Scheme in recent times, I checked the one which covers Glasgow and the Clyde Valley and I was surprised by the number of Catholic churches which remain open for part of the day. This augurs well for all who believe that in these times of trouble, we will be strengthened by the power of prayer.

Pope Benedict XVI’s final message to us was: “May you always experience the joy that comes from putting Christ at the centre of your lives.” We can draw strength from his words and, as the Faithful, move forward by opening up our churches, drawing comfort and help from the power of prayer. Where Mary, the Mother of God is not given Her rightful place, we must insist that it is restored to Her, from the saying of the Hail Mary at the end of Bidding Prayers to May Devotions and the praying of the Rosry.

And, as I have said many times before, we should shed our sadness, express our Faith by the ringing of church bells to summon the Faithful to prayer, and for the Angelus. Perhaps, by our renewed efforts, we can show the world why we are called ‘the Faithful.’

 

Recent weeks have, I believe, brought us, as Catholics, closer together. Despite that sense of sadness, of loss, we have spoken to one another more readily than usual about our Faith, about the things therein that really matter to us. Therein lies re-affirmation.

At Sunday Mass, one of the hymns chosen was: Come back to me… based on Hosea, written by Gregory Norbert. As it began, there was a flurry of hymnbooks being produced in the church and the choir were joined by virtually the whole congregation. The sheer volume of the singing was noticeable. And the last two lines of that particular hymn?

“You shall sleep secure with peace, faithfulness will be your joy.”

Comments - One Response

  1. Philip M. McGhee says:

    One reason why I get up so early in the morning is to get some of my morning prayers,in contrast to my younger years,when I was accustomed to “hang out” in bars and nightclubs till the wee hours of the morning. Just like the late Cardinal Bevilacqua, I have found after the after 8:00 am, my time no longer belongs to me. No, I don’t think I’ll ever be canonized.

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