LET IT aLL sTART hERE
For Catholics who care...
"I'm not a praying minstrel”.
Those were the words of a 93 year old Italian-Catholic friend and fellow parishioner. I was taken aback!
I wondered: This man is one of the most generous supporters of our church? A man whose last "outing" in his old life...was to go to Mass? …And he doesn't pray? Who else would he be but a praying minstrel if he truly believed in his Catholic faith? I am afraid that too many of us settle for the religious “tag” of “Catholic,” and too few of us regularly exercise its privilege.
While visiting this man in a nursing home, the topic of how we converse with God came up. I wanted to talk about his prayer life and he wanted to change the subject. I don't change subjects readily when I want my way and I suggested that he spend some of his time in prayer – rather than sitting, hour upon hour, feeling alone. I think all of these elders of the Catholic faith who live in such facilities should consider banding together, in teams, to pray – collectively - for our world (A world that is a yardstick away from being the next Sodom and Gomorrah). This world has become one that our older generation can’t even recognize anymore; a world that they will be departing from before most of the rest of us. What better use of their time?
I believe that if Catholic senior citizens were to recognize the powers they possess - from a lifetime of being in a relationship with God – and if they would own them, they just might be able to pray this world well. But, alas, that is a whole other topic.
"I'm not a praying minstrel!" he reiterated the next time I visited. I asked if he wanted to pray the rosary with me. He frowned, and pushed my suggestion aside with his thick, arthritic hands; strong hands that had tended to the needs of hundreds of cows on his family's dairy farm for two-thirds of a century. Hands that knew hard work, but hands that never fished; hands that never held the hand of his own offspring. These were hands that rarely found themselves woven together in prayer. Or so he said....
Jesus' disciples only asked Him to teach them one thing - how to pray. I once read: "A learned behavior is easier caught than taught." Jesus understood, and prayed as an example to his followers. Pastor Rick Ezell writes this about Jesus’ prayer life:
1) Jesus believed that prayer works.
2) Praying did not make Jesus passive.
3) Jesus prayed alone.
4) Jesus prayed in community.
5) Jesus prayed before meals.
6) Jesus offered thanks.
7) Jesus prayed before making important decisions.
8) Jesus prayed for his disciples.
My visit yesterday to the nursing home was a sad one. My "would-be" praying minstrel's health has taken a serious turn for the worse. I held his hand to comfort him as he wept at his own predicament. I struggled to find something meaningful to say, or do. Then, it became clear that solace cannot be offered to an aged, stricken, solitary man with a box of chocolate, a bouquet of flowers, or in the promise of future outings once good health returns. None of that matters.
So, I said this: "I love you, and I need you to pray for me. Will you do that? Will you pray for me? I could use some help." I asked him this three times. He agreed. Now, let’s see what happens.