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The Message
Evansville, Indiana
November 20, 1987     The Message
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November 20, 1987

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I I Faith Today Supplement, The Message, Catholic Diocese of Evansville, November 20, 1987 ., ;day conversations children. Gloria works for an agenchat cleans apartments after renters move out. She was a homemaker, but with her husband recuperating from emergency heart surgery she had to find a job quickly. Gloria identifies with Christ's suffering and unfaltering compas- sion, which is "always there"; she is "able to bring dignity" to her job and "can even get a laugh out of the nutty things people do." *Do rhY was a brilliant lawyer, married late in life, now pretty much without family. After she broke her hip, she was moved to the nursing section of her retire- ment home. But the staff began to question her mental clarity. They told me, "She talks to a person who isn't there." I responded that Dorothy fre- quently prays out loud. I didn't find it strange, since I grew up in a family that prayed that way a good deal of the time -- much like hving a running conversation witha'n intimate friend. When I told Dorothy of the staff's concern her comment was as mischievous as her eyes: "They're the ones out to lunch." *Jack says, "In our house, with our gang of five, finding a quiet place for prayer" is hard. So the family built praying into the celebration of family anniversaries and religious holidays, the blessing of fd and family members. This has created "a family bonding" which has led members to turn naturally to God when the unexpected occurs, Jack explain. ed. Much of the family's prayer is spontaneous, reflecting what Jack called an "instinct embedded in our family's pattern of life." *Then there is Henry. He said that as a young man he "was making it without God. In my mind, prayer was for those less smart who needed help." Henry and his wife "were so bus}, scaling the ladder" that they "hardly had time for one another, let alone God." But in their 50s, the couple began to ask "what it has been all about." "We have started going to church," Henry said, "where we still feel like aliens." He and his wife find the Mass more welcom- ing and more comforting today. But the prayers of their childhood "seem as remote as the children we once were." Their question is, "How can we know God?" God does not usually pop out of blazing bushes to gain people's attention. More commonly, the divine voice is heard through the human voices in people's lives or in Scripture. And God is present in a baby's hand curled around our finger, in the sacraments, in the peaceful faces of the elderly. God's wonders all...the stuff of conversation with him for those who "stay awake." (Hughes is a religious education consultant and a free-lance writer.) sting God's arm? a bit one-sided, but dialogue still. That is what prayer is in essence: co' J, ersation with God. Communication is needed to maintain any kind of relationship. And a remarkable thing about biblical prayer is its honesty: Peo- ple tell God what is on their minds, in no uncertain terms. Jeremiah, often depressed by his futile efforts to get God's message across, broke down and complain- ed bitterly that God had tricked him: "You duped me, O Lord, and 1 let myself be duped." The same frank expression re.,lrs frequently in the Psalms. The psalmists, impatient, tell God to wake up and get going. "How long, O Lord? Will you utterly forget me? How long will you hide your face from me? How long shall I harbor sorrow in my soul, grief in my heart day after day?... Look, answer me, O Lord, my God" (Psalm 13:2-4). Still, when one stops to think of it, why should prayer be anything but honest? A pain that is not shared is not healed. The variety of prayers in the Bi- ble is as rich as the whole range of human emotions. Often people turn to God in humble acknow- ledgment of their own failings. "Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness .... For I acknow- ledge my offense and my sin is before me always. Against you alone have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight" (Psalm 51:3,5-6). Frequent, too, are heartfelt prayers of praise and thanksgiving. "Give thanks to the Lord on the harp; with the 10-stringed lyre chant his praises" (Psalm 33:2). Jesus prayed; Paul prayed. Everyone who has ever been con- scious of his or her relationship with God has prayed. For it is only by constant com- munication and candid conversa- tion that the relationship can be kept alive and healthy. (Father Castelot is a professor of Scripture at St. John's Seminary, Plymouth, Mich.) FOOD FOR THOUGHT Prayer is caught, not taught -- at least at its beginning point, says Father Eugene LaVerdiere. What does he mean? Father LaVerdiere tells a story of his grandmother. Through her ac- tions he discovered that there was something -- someone -- bigger than she was, someone she loved and to whom she prayed. Can you recall a similar story from your own life's history about a time when, through someone else's actions, you gained an insight into life's mean- ing, God's presence or human dignity? How do people you know observe the season of Advent? Do you think there are factors in your life that tend to overshadow Advent each year and make it difficult for you to observe the season? After reading Nell Parent's article, what are your own thoughts about ways to observe Advent at home? Second Helpings. A missionary for many years in the Philippines, Jesuit Father Thomas Green says he constantly is struck by the realization that prayer is a constant and fundamental human value in so many parts of the world. In his book Opening to God: A Personal Guide to Prayer for Today, he writes, "It never ceases to amaze me that I hear the same ques- tions about prayer in a convent in the isolated province of Antique by the Sulu Sea and in a convent at the cathedral in Rochester, N.Y." Reflecting on his experience as well as his study of the church's masters of prayer, he says he has come to realize that "there are certain common patterns of the interior life which transcend time and space." His book is designed to help people begin to pray. The desire to pray, he writes, is already a clear sign that the Lord is present. (Bantam Books Inc., 666 Fifth Ave., New York, N.Y. 10103. 1987. Paperback, $2.95.) Help others 00,'hile you help yourself An Extension Charitable Gift Annui- ty offers a unique opportunity to help yourself as you help home missioners bring the Faith to the most isolated and impoverished regions of our nation. Consider these benefits: Financial Security Our plan assures you of a fixed income for the rest of your life. Tax Advantages Besides an initial charitable contribution deduction, a portion of your annual income is tax free. Maximum Safety Extension has never missed a payment -- even during the Great Depression. High Yield The older you are, the higher the rate of return. You may also designate a loved one as a beneficiary, or defer your pay- ments for a better rate. Send today for no-obligation details on how you can help others and yourself through an Extension Annuity. The Cathohc Church EXTENSION soow 35 East Wacker Dr*ve * Chicago, Ilhno,s 60601 FT 0940 Dear Father Slattery: Please send me informat'ion on Extension's Charitable Gift Annuities. Rev./Sr./Mr./Mrs./Miss/Ms. Address City Birthdate State Zip / / Phone ( ) .................  ._'_ .....  .... This information will be kept strictly confidential 4O