Thursday, April 16, 2009

INTERCESSORY PRAYER...Or, Why I Think The Communion Of Saints Will Meet Me At The Pearly Gates With A Roll Of Duct Tape!

Yes, it's true. I believe totally and completely that when I die, the saints I know and love, will greet me at Heaven's Door with enough duct tape to gag me for at least a decade or two.

They need the rest, poor dears!

Each day, many times, and on a difficult day sometimes moment by moment, I am praying about something or someone. Now, the prayers of praise and gratitude, they are the easiest, and I bring them to the Lord constantly and usually by myself. However, when it comes to prayers of petition, I usually seek a little backup.

When I explain why we go to Mass to the children in the program, I tell them certainly, we can pray anywhere: at home, at school (yes, Virginia, we can still pray at school...silently or even soto voce: for no one has legislated our thoughts and heart songs, yet), on the sports field, and even in the shower (a good place to pray those prayers that make us cry!)

God is EVERYWHERE, hears us ANYWHERE, and does so, at ANYTIME.

But, we come together in a special way at Mass to praise and glorify and petition God in community. We pray with, and for each other, even as we bring our own personal prayers to the altar. There, too, we are nourished with the source and summit of our lives: the Eucharist which strengthens the convictions of our soul. How could He not listen when we come to Him for ourselves and others all at the same time?

"Love thy neighbor as thyself," after all.

Now, this is not to say that God will always answer our prayers in the way we think they should be answered. That's not how it works. And, that is why it is so important to add that same phrase that Jesus prayed even as He was asking in the Garden of Gethsemane for "this cup to pass."

The simple phrase I add to every prayer is this: "Thy will, not my will, be done!"

It is my acknowledgment, as it was Christ's, that all good comes from the Father in Heaven, and if I truly believe that, then I must give control of situations up to Him; not only because that is where control rightfully belongs, but, because it is the only way to find peace of mind, heart, and soul.

So, at Mass when the earthly communion of saints joins our prayer to the heavenly communion of saints, how could God ignore our pleas for assistance?

The short answer is: He will not!

Now, with that simple philosophy as my guide, when I am praying during the day, or moment by moment if it is one of those days, or late in the evening, or even as I prayed over my aunt as she lay dying in the hospital, (and Mass is not an option), I reach out to the communion of saints.

I don't just pray for the assistance of one or two, either, I ask them all to join in.

My prayer is usually this: "Please, _____________ intercede on my behalf with our Heavenly Father."

Of course, I first approach Christ.

Then, The Blessed Mother because, Jesus gave her to us as our true and eternal mother at the foot of his cross.

Saint Joseph, the patron saint of so many things: safe travel, peaceful death, fatherhood, family, those who work with their hands, etc.

Mother Cabrini, because she has been the patroness of my family since before I was born.

Saint Therese, the Little Flower, whose name I took at Confirmation.

Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, Saint Claire, Saint Francis of Assisi, Saint Francis Xavier, Saint John (Don) Bosco (patron saint of catechists), Saint Francis de Sales, and the list goes on and on.

With the officially recognized saints of the Catholic Church, I also reach out to my own father, brother, uncles, aunts, grandparents, even the great grandparents I never had a chance to meet, and a very special Deacon friend who passed way too soon.

I take very seriously Saint Therese's declaration that she would "spend...[her]... Heaven doing good on earth."

And, I have made a prayer habit of expecting ALL the saints, officially recognized or not, to do the same.

Therefore, I am certain, that on the day I die, they will welcome me with open arms, and then take measures to get a little peace and quiet.

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