Prayer and the Hope of the Resurrection
In the midst of this Covid-19 pandemic, many in our community are gripped with fear; fear for their health, fear for the health of their loved ones, fear for their jobs and fear for their finances. Government officials continue to offer common sense steps to contain, reduce, and prevent new infections of the coronavirus. Economists offer new monetary and fiscal programs to protect our jobs and our finances. But what should be our spiritual response to this pandemic? How can our hope in Christ remain firm as we walk through this dark valley? Perhaps the answer lies in the 4th step of our Five Steps to Discipleship: Prayer.
We are reminded during this precious Lenten season to pray for one another, to abstain from meat on Fridays, (if your healthy enough to do so that is) and give praise to God daily. Even in these difficult times with COVID-19 we can still participate in these small sacrifices. As I was praying my breviary the other morning, the mid-afternoon antiphon struck me, it reads, “Armed with God’s justice and power, let us prove ourselves through patient endurance.” Our patient endurance is truly what we need during this time. Replace panic with prayer. Replace anxiety with worship. The Resurrection teaches us that we win in the end. Through God’s power, mercy and love, we should never worry about what could happen to us, but what is happening to us, through His transforming grace. We must be vigilant of course, but we cannot and should not forget the fact that we are still in Lent and God’s grace abounds ever more during these trying times.
When Jesus was asked “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples” (Luke 11:1) he responded by giving his disciples the Our Father. He wants our prayer to be intimacy with his Father. That is the purpose of prayer. We call God "Father" when we pray. The same intimacy that Jesus has with his Abba he invites us to share. Now we have seen during Lent that Jesus places prayer between two other key practices of a disciple; generosity and self sacrifice. As Dr. Tim Gray from the Augustine Institute says, “If you want intimacy with God, you have to learn to frame your prayer with generosity to others and the ability to sacrifice your self.” If you do that your prayer will be blessed and fruitful. You will find yourself resting in the love of God and by his grace you will be strengthened in these difficult times.
If there ever was time for us to be the hands and feet of Jesus here on earth, this is it. We
are being presented with the biggest open door imaginable to show our love and care for the most vulnerable. So, take the time to call someone who is alone today. Offer your support in anyway that you can; through your presence, through your prayers or maybe just offering to pick something up for them. Remember that God wants to use us to help others.
May your prayers, generosity and self-sacrifice bring you closer to the Risen Christ this Easter.
God bless you folks, Father Gerard.
P.S. If anyone is in need of specific prayers from me, outside of the ones I offer up every day for our parishioners and those suffering from this dreadful virus, in my private prayers and celebration of the mass, please do not hesitate to email me anytime, email@example.com and for anything else you can think of, let me know and perhaps our leadership team as well as myself can help.