Thoughts and prayers

Last Friday, February 15, Supreme Knight Carl Anderson and Archbishop William Lori (the supreme chaplain) wrote to all the Knights of Columbus and invited “every Brother Knight and your families to join us in praying a special ‘Novena for Repentance, Renewal and Rebuilding’ from February 20-28. Together, our prayers will make a difference.”

The supreme knight and the archbishop mentioned how “the Knights of Columbus has had the privilege of undertaking a nationwide pilgrimage of the incorrupt heart of St. John Vianney. We have been deeply moved to see the impact of this relic on the faithful, and particularly on priests and seminarians as they implore the intercession of the patron saint of parish priests whose holiness and integrity they strive to emulate.” 

The leaders of the Knights said that they were “especially mindful of this great saint’s example as bishops from around the world meet February 21-24 at the Vatican under the leadership of Pope Francis to discuss the sexual abuse crisis.” 

The two leaders wrote that the Knights made a commitment last August “to work for repentance, renewal and rebuilding of the Church. That commitment continues today as the Church and her leaders continue to come to grips with the damage that the scandal and its perpetrators have done to victims and to the entire Body of Christ. We also recall the powerful words of Pope Francis in his letter to the U.S. bishops on retreat in January: ‘This situation forces us to look to what is essential and to rid ourselves of all that stands in the way of a clear witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.’”

What good will prayer do? It will help us to become more conformed to God, so that we can carry out His will, which always includes purifying ourselves and the Church. A freed hostage, who had been held by ISIS for a long period of time, was asked by NPR’s Terry Gross, if he thought that his prayer would change his captors, if it would get them to free him. The freed man responded, “No, but it changed me.”

If we want a better Church, we need to be better people ourselves, people more open to what God wants. Then we will be able to work for that in the Church and in our world.

The “Catechism of the Catholic Church” (CCC) at paragraph 2725 says, “prayer is a battle. Against whom? Against ourselves and against the wiles of the tempter who does all he can to turn man away from prayer, away from union with God.” It is obvious that the tempter has had many victories, in the Church and in the world. And yet, we know that Christ will ultimately be victorious. Do we truly “want to be in that number, when the saints go marching in”? If so, then we need to pray more and then do what Christ (lovingly, but also challengingly) demands of us.

Many Americans now complain when other people say that their “thoughts and prayers are with” whomever has just suffered the most recent (often avoidable) tragedy. In part the anger comes in reaction to the seeming glibness of those who say that they are thinking and praying for the people involved (although no reporter has asked, “How much time are you spending in prayer? What type of prayer are you doing about this situation?”). But another part of the rejection of “thoughts and prayers” is that it is considered to be useless. The CCC addresses that objection: “Many Christians unconsciously regard prayer as an occupation that is incompatible with all the other things they have to do: they ‘don’t have the time.’ Those who seek God by prayer are quickly discouraged because they do not know that prayer comes also from the Holy Spirit and not from themselves alone” (#2726).

May our diligence in prayer helps us to leave discouragement behind and to have the courage to do God’s will.

From the executive editor: We have some changes here at The Anchor. David Jolivet, who has served here at the paper for decades, both as a reporter and editor, beginning with Msgr. John Moore and continuing with Father Roger Landry and then myself, is transitioning to work with me at my parish at Holy Family in East Taunton. He will bring the same insight into human nature, reflected in God’s love for him and for all of us, to his collaboration with me at the parish. However, all of us will still be able to partake of his analysis of the Church and the world — he will continue to write his column, “My View from the Stands,” here in The Anchor. He will also continue to help report the news here within the diocese.

Kenneth Souza will now become the editor of The Anchor. He has worked here for many years as a reporter, as webmaster, and as director of special projects, the largest of which is our annual diocesan directory (do you have a copy? We are still selling them — they are handy for addresses, Mass times, photos of the priests and deacons, information about various vendors here in the area, etc. Please feel free to contact our office to see about buying a copy — see page 19 for more information). Like Dave, Ken brings a background of working as a journalist in the secular media and being someone for whom faith and the Church is very important.  

Meanwhile, we ask your prayers for the speedy recovery of Wayne Powers, our advertising director. He fell on ice outside our offices a few weeks ago, breaking a few bones, which required surgery and some convalescence at home. Prayers are most appreciative (and given what I wrote above, it should be the first thing that we do for the sick, and for a considerable time) — but if you’d like to purchase an ad, that would make Wayne’s eyes brighten when he returned to work. He is very mindful that revenue from subscriptions and advertising (plus donations) are what keep our newspaper going, so that Dave and Ken, as well as our other columnists, can provide you with thoughtful news coverage and analysis, always from a Catholic perspective. I am very grateful for our staff’s service to this newspaper and to the Church.

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