Father Ed Salmon, of the Chicago Archdiocese, whose parents from Mayo and Kerry, reflects on the power of prayer during times of crisis, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
I have heard friends and seen people of all ages on TV, complaining and protesting about our state of affairs. Can't go to the show, no ball games, the kids have no activities, vacations being canceled, no school, shortages of testing, can't get my elective surgery done, no job so no money coming in, shortages at the food store, NO TOILET PAPER, everybody stuck in the house on top of each other (some in their eight to 12 rooms)!
Stop for a moment and think... Really!?... that's how most of the people on earth live each and every day, with little hope of any of it ever-changing.
That's my first thought provoker, I hope.
The second is the words of Blaise Pascal (1623-1662AD), a French mathematician, writer, and Catholic theologian, who said:
"All men's miseries derive from not being able to sit still in a room."
That was in the 1600s. Imagine what he'd have to say today! iPads, cell phones, TVs, computers, sound systems, and more, I know not of.
If the language God speaks, as we are told, is silence - when do we listen?
Now is the time to "Be still and know that I am God."
A little distancing in the house, a little silence, time with nothing being demanded, or are we as Pascal warned incapable of such. I think not.
If this pandemic doesn't drive us to our knees, if we don't lift our hears in thanks again and again as we reflect on my first thought and realize what we do have even now and so much more in ordinary times, whenever will we.
Another of our great Christian writers speaks of prayer, more eloquently than I ever could. Tertullian (155-220 AD) wrote:
“Prayer is the one thing that can conquer God. But Christ has willed that it should work no evil: all the power he has given it is for good... Its only skill is to call people back from the gates of death, give strength to the weak, heal the sick, exorcise the possessed, open prison doors, free the innocent from their chains.
"Prayer cleanses from sin, drives away temptations, stamps out persecutions, comforts the faint-hearted, gives new strength to the courageous, brings travelers safely home, calms the waves, bemuses robbers, feeds the poor, overrules the rich, lifts up the fallen, supports the faltering, sustains those who stand firm.
"All the angels pray. Every creature prays. Cattle and wild beasts pray and bend the knee. As they come from their barns and caves they look up to heaven and call out, lifting up their spirit in their own fashion. The birds too rise and lift themselves up to heaven: they open out their wings, instead of hands, in the form of a cross, and give voice to what seems to be a prayer."
What more needs be said about the duty of prayer? Even the Lord himself prayed. To him be honor and power forever and ever. Amen.
So use this time that has been given to us well. Hopefully, we shall never have such an opportunity again. Be alone, be quiet give thanks abundantly, and pray.
Just place yourself in the presence of the Lord, and be still. And all will be well. All will be well.
Stay in, stay well, pray always,
Fr. Ed Salmon.