Tuesday, November 11, 2008


When writing petitions I always ask people to be very cautious about using the word, “that”. It can be a dangerous word. The most notable danger is that it may cause us to miss God granting what we ask for because we are looking in the wrong place. An example might be, “Lord, grant us peace that we will never face danger from that which is scary to us.” (A bit contrived, I know, but it will help with the point.) The “that” in this sentence creates a very small hoop through which we expect God to jump and only if He jumps through it do we think that our prayer is granted. But such might not be the case.

Last week I was talking with a friend who reminded me that God’s peace may not necessarily be what we think of peace. Peace in our lives may not mean that we are free from all antagonism. In fact, God promises us that if we are true to His name, if we act like true apostles, we should expect antagonism. Yet He also promises us peace: “I leave you peace, my peace I give you.” Is God promising too much or might He be promising something that we are not expecting?

Peace may not mean that we will find a place to live in which nothing happens or that there may be a narcotic for the soul so that it does not care about the tribulation surrounding it. It may rather mean (and I think that it does) that with Him we will find the power to face that which might otherwise cause us undue anxiety. He will “take the weak and make them strong.” The same problem may be there, but He will make you able to face it.
(This video may not be appropriate for all viewers.)

The more deeply we trust Him, the more deeply we believe in life after death, the more we love Him more than anything else, the more deeply we are lifted up in grace, then the more the dangers and perturbances of this world mean nothing. Why can one man defend Christ against a threat to his life and another crumble? Because one has peace. Perhaps they even both prayed for it. But one may have prayed for God’s peace, the other for peace that . . .”

God is often ironic. Let Him be wild. Let Him answer the prayer in His way. It’s usually far better than what we think we want anyway.


Anonymous said...


As I pulled into the high school lot one afternoon to wait for the kids, I was troubled about many things and utterly baffled--what does He want from me and for me regarding all this, etc. There was only one spot open in the lot, so I pulled the car into it, where I saw on the car ahead Jeremiah speaking from a bumper sticker, "I know My plan for you, saith the Lord.." Yes, He does, and yes, it is indeed to lift us above our earthly bafflement. We may indeed trust Him Who knit us in our mothers' wombs.

I realized in the past year that (for example) instead of praying specifically for Him to arrange for 2 hrs. of privacy *that* I may recharge (people come and go around the clock, here, and they are people who need something around the clock, and so for a year, the very moment one goes out, another comes in), I should just ask for (my) increase of patience and wisdom and charity.

I recently told a friend I'd begun to pray very vaguely, but not more vaguely than the Our Father-- the perfect prayer. And since Christ is One Who cannot offer us anything but perfect mercy along with perfect everything else, He added a Mother unto us from even before Dysmas' dying (and even before He sent us the Advocate/Comforter!) and thus in a manner of speaking, arranged for the Hail Mary to be prayed as "vaguely" --but as sure-ly.

"Unless you become like little children"--indeed, what does a little child do, but trust in his parents' love? There is peace in trust.

Anonymous said...

This morning I was talking to a friend of mine about his anti-depressants and how if he took too many he didn’t like that “numb” feeling. Other friends have told me the same thing. I was thinking how there is something repulsive and scary about a human being that doesn’t feel negative emotions. It’s like the natural repulse you feel about the characters in “A Clockwork Orange” drinking drugged milk or the creepiness of zombies in the movies.

It is our negative emotions that give us the opportunity develop empathy and to be heroic. It’s kinda like when I was I kid when I realized, hey, pain was painful to the saints. If they were just superheros where success is a forgone conclusion, there would be no reason to look up to them. It is the fact that Joan of Arc was petrified to meet her death but still met it with dignity and courage that we can look to her with hope for ourselves and seek the aid of supernatural grace to give us that kind of courage.


Anonymous said...

This video really makes one think!

Also when ever I have helped write petitions I was told many years ago that you shouldn't tell God the outcome of your prayer because he may have different one in mind

Anonymous said...

I used to pray to God that we might be more financially secure, meaning that we would win the lottery, but I realised that God had answered my prayer in His way when my husband began to give more money to the family budget.

Anonymous said...

Excellent points, all of you.

The video was riveting. Way back right after details emerged from the Columbine high school tragedy, didn't we all ask ourselves what we'd have said if we were Cassie, the young martyr-to-be?

Fr. V, your comment, "Let Him be wild," put me in mind of the ending of a fictional novel in which a completely overjoyed/overwhelmed someone asks the Lord who has just appeared to him/her, "What do You want me to do for the rest of my life?" The Lord smiled and said, "Surprise Me."