Prayers of the Faithful
Guest editorial Michael Shackleton – When the Western Cape and other affected areas recently confronted the prospect of a devastating regional drought, it seemed natural for people to pray for rain. Religious leaders of all faiths met together to do this.
More recently, since dam levels have shown a marked improvement, the same leaders have again come together to give thanks. In Cape Town, Mayor Patricia de Lille, who hosted the interfaith gathering, remarked that God does listen to us at all times.
Belief in divine care for our planet and its populations cannot be far from people’s awareness in cases such as this.
Catholics have no doubt that God listens to our prayers. In our liturgical celebrations we pray at every turn. The liturgy is our corporate recognition of the presence of God in our lives, an act of adoration, praise, thanksgiving and petition by the People of God.
It is founded on the certainty that God is faithful, never abandoning his children in their needs and stress.
This assurance of God’s constancy is the same as that experienced by the Children of Israel in the Old Testament. Their liturgy was based on the commemoration of the saving power of God in delivering them from Egyptian bondage and their being his own Chosen People.
Begging God for rain to fill the dams and reservoirs is an immediate prayer in hard times.
But there are also other hard times to be faced by the Church and all people.
We are weathering grave dangers to the future of Earth, the moral integrity of the Church’s own consecrated ministers, the very faith of the faithful.
The Prayers of the Faithful are regularly recited during our Sunday liturgy. In them, in all probability, parishes everywhere are already expressing real consciousness of the unprecedented evils threatening us, and they are entreating divine support.
To avoid the possibility of people praying only with their lips at Mass, there would appear to be a need for us to remember that all prayer has to be sincere.
It must be offered with absolute confidence that God can do what is asked. It must be offered in faith and trust in God’s real concern for those who turn to him.
Corporate prayer for rain has demonstrated that in dire cases humans seem to be hardwired to seek divine protection.
This implies that the petitions we make liturgically should brim over from the formal to the informal. They should be carried into our homes, our private devotions, and our workplaces.
In genuine prayer we remain on good terms with our Father in heaven. For every scandal, every threat to our faith, every triumph of grace over sin, the response should be a prayer of utter trust in the name of Christ, the Father’s Son.