The world needs prayer
I think we would all agree that the world today is in great turmoil and things are extremely uncertain, and I’m not only referring to what is happening in Ukraine. There is great moral and spiritual confusion too, and there has been for a long time. But God is not simply going to raise His hand and everything become fine. No, the much needed spiritual renewal has to begin with us. In other words we need to become holy and then everything else will follow. This was the main call of the Second Vatican Council – personal holiness, so that we can have a positive effect in the world. So the best way to begin this Lent, if you haven’t already done so, is to make a good examination of conscience followed by a good, humble Confession.
Our Lord said, Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord shall enter the kingdom of Heaven, but he who does the will of My Father Who is in Heaven” (Matthew 7:21). He also tells us to enter through the narrow gate because wide is the road that leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13-14). So it’s not as easy to get to Heaven as people often like to think. We have to do God’s Will and obey His commands, but because we are fallen creatures and have a natural inclination to sin, we can’t do it by ourselves. We need God! We need His grace to help us. This grace comes to us initially through the Sacraments, but most often through prayer. Prayer is essential for salvation. The saints have told us this over and over again, so it’s the key thing we should be doing.
We often think we haven’t got time for prayer. Venerable Fulton Sheen used to say, “I pray because I don’t have time!” He found that when he prayed he had more time for his other duties. Our Lord Himself spent hours in prayer in spite of His long days of preaching and healing and performing miracles. He was never too busy to pray. Some will only pray when they’re undergoing a crisis, and then once the problem is solved they stop praying again until the next crisis. We shouldn’t only pray in these situations. We are all bound to pray for our neighbour. It’s one of the spiritual works of mercy to pray for the sick, the homeless, those in war-torn areas, those who are far from God and living in darkness. Our Lady of Fatima said, “Pray and make sacrifices for sinners. Many souls go to hell because there is no one to pray for them.” While God hears every prayer we make, He won’t necessarily answer it in the way we want, but we can trust that God will organise things better than we can. And we shouldn’t think that if we make the time to pray our lives will suddenly become a bed of roses. On the contrary, Our Lord said we must take up our cross daily and follow Him (Luke 9:23). So we have to pray for the grace to bear whatever crosses and trials the Lord sends us patiently, and then unite them with His sufferings so that they have a real supernatural value. We can obtain many graces for ourselves and others in this way. Suffering patiently on earth brings greater glory to us in Heaven.
Our prayers have a very special power when we come before Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament because He is really there! This is what is essential in today’s crisis. Throughout history the saints recognised this. St Mary’s is open now most of the time during the day. Drop in to have a word with Him even if only for a few minutes. And don’t forget Adoration on Saturdays between 10.30am and 12.30pm. But don’t say you’re too busy. The saints were busy, and probably busier than most of us, but they always found the time and this was the source of their strength and perseverance.
Fr Paul Gillham, IC