Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Prayers for Pauline Pray-ers

My eighteen-year-old daughter raised her head from her Trigonometry homework as she heard me come home after work. As I asked how her day was, I was surprised her response was not her usual “good, how was yours?” Instead, she tilted her head and said, “Well, something kind of strange happened today. A girl in my class, Andrea, asked me if she could talk to me after school. She told me her dad just found out he has a tumor and has to have a big operation. She asked if I would pray for him.”

I asked her what she told Andrea, and she recounted, “I told her I would absolutely pray for her dad, and then I went to the chapel and prayed for him. I also prayed a Rosary for him while I drove home.” She paused and continued, “I was just so shocked she asked me; I really don’t know her that well. But she told me I always look so happy when I’m in the chapel praying and when I’m a Eucharistic Minister at our school masses. We talked a little last year when we were on the same bus coming home from the March for Life.  But honestly, I’m a little nervous because she is really counting on my prayers. I don’t always know what to say when I pray; sometimes I just talk to God and sometimes I even start daydreaming. I’m really not the best pray-er!”

Understanding exactly how she felt, I told my daughter that most of us, I believe, feel that we are not as good as we should be at praying. Some, on the other hand, obviously excel at prayer. Blessed Father Alberione, the Founder of the Pauline Family, has to be considered one of the all-time best pray-ers. He identified prayer as “the first duty and the first contribution which [he] must make to [his] Congregation” (A Marvel of Our Times, 118). Father Alberione was a man of endless creativity
and constant action, but he acknowledged, and everyone around him knew, that “prayer was the source of all his activity” (AMOT, 119). He started his day by celebrating Mass at 4:30 AM. He prayed with all his visitors, and he always stopped whatever he was doing at noon to pray the Angelus. Despite his rigorous schedule, he prayed five to six hours daily every single day of his life. “That is my point,” my daughter responded, “I can never be as good at prayer as Father Alberione and the Daughters of St. Paul. That’s why I always ask the Daughters to pray for my big prayer intentions.”

“So  why do you ask them to pray for you?”
She looked at me, considering my question, and responded slowly and thoughtfully, “I think they have a pretty strong relationship with God, and they have had more practice praying than I have. I guess it’s all about relationships – they are so close to Jesus that they can help strengthen my relationship to God.  So I figure I should look for someone with a really close relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; that’s who I want praying for me and putting in a good word for me, especially on the big stuff like making sure I make the right college and career choices and that friends and family stay healthy and happy, not the little stuff like basketball and football game outcomes. That’s always a pet peeve of mine,” she elaborated, “when college and professional players thank God – not for their health or safety, but for their victory over their opponent, as if their win is a sign that God loves them more than He loves the team they just beat.”

Complimenting her on her wisdom in asking the Daughters of St. Paul to pray for her intentions, I reminded her of Venerable Mother Thecla Merlo’s advice on prayer. She told her Sisters to “daily recommend to God all the faithful, all sinners, all unbelievers.  Be ‘big-hearted’ enough in prayer to embrace everyone in the world.” I guess that’s the way professional pray-ers do it.

“For being an amateur ‘pray-er,’ you are doing a great job,” I assured my daughter. “First, people can tell that you love Jesus enough that they are not afraid to talk to you about your faith and ask for your prayers. Second, you did exactly the right thing by not just saying you would pray for Andrea’s dad, but you acted on it and prayed in the chapel and throughout your drive home. Some people say they will pray for you, but they never actually get around to praying.  (And excellent touch in invoking our Blessed Mother’s intercession by praying the Rosary; that’s not an amateur move!)  And third, even as a high school student, you are able to share Christ with others. That’s what a Pauline does: brings people to Jesus and brings Jesus to all the world. Those who knew Blessed James Alberione “clearly sensed that God was in him and that he gave God to others” (AMOT, 120). You are turning into a fine young Pauline woman!

“That means,” I stated slowly through a proud papa smile, “that you may not be a professional pray-er yet, but I officially dub you an official semi-professional pray-er! I would be honored to have you pray for me and my intentions any time. And I will continue to pray for you and all Pauline pray-ers around the world (from amateur to professional)!”


Jeffrey E. Mathews, MD, has been a Pauline Cooperator since October 11, 2009. He and his wife, Carolyn, live in St. Louis, MO, and are blessed with three sons and two daughters (two out of college, two in college, and one in high school). Dr. Mathews, a gastroenterologist, is trying really hard to improve his Spanish for his annual medical mission trip to Honduras.

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