Friday, August 30, 2013

You Are Not Alone

It may come as a surprise to some readers, but one of my preferred spiritual devotions is Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. I think it's because a total-sense engaging experience: dimmed lights, flickering candles, a focal point, an atmosphere of silence flooded with the smell of incense.

On occasion I'll go to Adoration and pray the rosary. Those are rare occasions, however. In general, my preference is simply to sit in silence and let my prayer be one for all those in need of prayers at that moment. In the darkness of the church or chapel, I simply try to join myself in prayer to all those who, at that very moment, need to know they are not alone:

  • The woman attempting to summon the courage to leave an abusive husband
  • The young man contemplating suicide
  • The woman trapped in a sex-trafficking ring 
  • The victim of rape or sex abuse attempting to find the courage to report what has happened
  • The teenager petrified to come out of the closet to his or her parents
  • The person struggling with drug addiction, wrestling with whether to "get high" or to seek treatment
  • The broken-hearted parents of children senselessly killed in wars they neither began nor could begin to comprehend
  • In short: I pray for all those who might be forgotten by a world rushing on to the next big thing, rushing to the next appointment, concerned with getting ahead. You may call me foolish but, in those moments, I imagine that in the darkness of prayer I can offer prayerful presence to those in the world who need, at that moment, to hear: You Are Not Alone
My heart was warmed, yet again, by a story of the cold-calling Pope Francis and his call to an Argentinian rape victim.  After reading her letter about being raped, the Holy Father called and spoke to her for over half an hour, telling her, "You are not alone." 

Speaking to reporters after the call, she said, "Now I know that I am not alone and I will pick myself up again." 

It is tempting to treat our personal prayer as a spiritual self-improvement program, sort of like a metaphysical Weight-Watchers. The example we see from the Holy Father reminds us, however, that the fruit of our prayer is not solely for our consumption. When our hearts have been moved by an encounter with the Risen One, our movement must be to join ourselves with those to whom He wishes us to go. Prayer, opening our hearts to the One who calls us into being and desires to give us a mission in the world, is both the beginning and end of our lives of discipleship. 

For it is only in prayer that we will hear, in the silence of our stilled hearts, the whisper of the Holy One who assures us You Are Not Alone and empowers us to go and do likewise, to be incarnate reminders that our God is a God with us. 

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