Thursday, March 5, 2015

Prayer In Action

Today on my way to work, I was listening to the Divine Mercy prayer in song. As I neared a stoplight, the "Glory be" came on. It was a beautiful day. The sun was shining & there wasn't a cloud in the sky. "Glory be to the Father & to the Son & to the Holy Spirit..." as it continued, I looked out my passenger window & watched a man struggle with his belongings. He was scruffy & dirty. He walked with a limp in his worn out boots & had some kind of bag slung over his back.

What if I were to roll down my window & yell out "Glory be to the Father..." as a gesture of greeting? It probably wouldn't go over well.  What about the Rosary? What if I were to walk up to him with a string of beads & tell him that praying even just one Hail Mary would be... "efficacious"?  He'd probably laugh in my face. That man doesn't need a doxology or a string of beads to show him God's love... he needs someone- some ONE to show him. I was not that one, as the light turned green & I drove off. But at least I said a prayer for him...

I got to thinking how religion can be like this for so many of us- me included... We think if we "do" our daily devotions, pray our Rosary or inundate ourselves with wholesome Christ centered media, we've connected with the Godhead. Somehow, we forget there's more to it than amassing scripture, history & teaching in order to "grow closer to God". We may as well roll down our windows & shout out the words to our prayers because that's all people will see if we stop there. I can imagine them thinking, "This is the real world. Pray your prayers, but leave me alone. I've got things to do".

This led me to another thought. In Catholicism, we are encouraged to pray prayers like the Rosary, the Divine Mercy, etc. They aren't requirements, but they're known to be tried & true ways to build up one's faith. I think the message comes across that when we say the prayers, they're somehow magical. Some people pray them for meditation. Others pray them for penance. Some people pray them because they believe the promises attached & think that saying the words will lessen their days in purgatory. But like scripture, they're just words unless they're taken to heart & practiced.

When the Rosary gives us 5 mysteries a day to meditate on, I wonder how I might flesh one or all of those out- What good news can I give to someone today? Whose suffering can I help ease with my presence? Who can I "break bread" with? Who can I share something awe inspiring with? How can I make my prayers into practical "scripts" of sorts to reach out & meet people where they're at in the real world?

And again, "For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us & on the whole world"... this is part of the Divine Mercy prayer, addressed, of course, to God. But what if I were to live my life "for the sake of His sorrowful passion", what if I were to show mercy to those around me? How would my life & those around me be any different?

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