LET IT aLL sTART hERE
For Catholics who care...
I live in New York State. There’s a mountain here in Stamford that rises up along Route 10 just beyond the old ski hill, Deer Run. It’s not the highest peak around, but I feel as though it is. There is a wind twisted hawthorn that stands sentinel at the acme of this mountain, and I imagine it had been left behind by a sentimental logger who fancied himself “The Giver” and bestowed on the town…The Tree of Life. It can be seen for miles in every direction. I watch it throughout the seasons: On sunny days and rainy days…on windy days and the hottest of days. It never disappoints: it is always there. It is reliable. I
can go there to pray.
I mention the mountain with it's tree because today I felt compelled to go up there, and use it as a podium at the top of the world to announce: There is no preferred positioning where God is concerned! It doesn’t work that way.
LetItAllStartHere has given me some unexpected notoriety in the prayer circuit. I have become the go-to-girl, acting as a representative for those who feel that they may be less favored by the Divine. Let me explain:
In just the past few days, requests have come in for me to pray hard for a man living on borrowed time, whom I have never met. He needs a new heart. And, then, someone I did know-- someone who I heard openly curse God-- asked that I pray for a homeless man with “developmental disabilities” who had been featured on Facebook. I was to pray that his family would claim him as their own. By some strange twist of fate, they had managed to “misplace” him, and he had slept in cardboard boxes and had been eating gifts of Chinese take-out for the last three years! And, then there was a young man who was haunted by a past that he could not face. I was asked to pray that he receive courage and peace.
Certainly, it is not unusual for a Catholic community to pray for one another. It is like a trust fund of which we are benefactors: I will pray for you… you will pray for me. We will collect the prayers we’ve banked.
And yet, what I do find unusual is that non-practicing Catholics as well as non-believers are requesting these prayers. They are suddenly aware that prayer is needed…that God is needed, and they are not exactly shy to tell me they need assistance. But why won’t they do the asking themselves? I find it odd that they seem to have a problem with Catholicism, and yet they have no trouble asking a Catholic to intercede on their behalf. What is going on? I wonder what the Holy Spirit is up to.
But, I want to make this perfectly clear: I am happy to do it! If I can pray a man well, if I can comfort the lost by ensuring that God cares what is happening to them…well, then, I am doing the work Christ asks that we do. However, I would be even more delighted if I could get these folks to take the reins themselves. I would just like to point out this one thing: God prefers your prayers to mine. Jesus, Himself, declared: "… that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” (Luke 15:7) That is your invitation to talk to God. Call Him, or text Him yourself! You don’t need a surrogate to do the work.
A few years ago, I felt like a failure in my prayer life. I didn’t think I was doing it right. I wasn’t being heard. I felt that I was just not good at it. I wasn’t getting anywhere. I went to a priest and asked him to intercede for me. That priest told me: He said, “There are no gold stars when you pray. There is no right way to do it.” He advised me to practice and be patient. Gave me some tips, told me to sit in front of the Tabernacle. He emphasized that I needed to keep working at it…stick with it…and don’t give up. At the time, I felt as if my life depended on getting it right. So I prayed as often as I could, never imagining that I would one day become “messenger” for so many people who needed to send a dispatch to God.