Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Give Us This Day...

Praying to Abba in the
Midst of Crisis

A while back I posted a piece entitled "What Do Contemplative Nuns Do Anyway?" My answer had a lot to do with prayer, the central activity of contemplative life. In today's Gospel Jesus responded to a request from his disciples about how they should pray. He told them to speak to the Almighty as if they were speaking to their daddy, in great trust and confidence, without embarrassment, knowing they are loved. Then he told them what they might ask for; the arrival of God's kingdom, the necessities of daily life and the ability to live well among those with whom they share the planet.

Months ago I began to get nervous about the news that was coming from Wall Street and the "Fed". I think perhaps my sisters thought me a bit pessimistic and negative. I told them that the Great Depression was like a ghost hanging around the house in my childhood. I was born only ten years after the deepest time of that inter-national disaster. My mother had suffered a great deal and I heard about waiting on line for shoes, food baskets left at the door, no money for Christmas and my grandfather picking up trash in the parks for his government stipend. My father game to this country in 1928. His parents were fleeing from an economy in which inflation brought the cost of a loaf of bread to a wagon full of almost worthless paper money. These are the things I remembered as the news got worse and worse.

Every day I have been praying that the Holy Spirit will shower those who have the power to make a difference with gifts of wisdom and compassion; that the better angels of our nature will come forward and reveal themselves; that the years of greed and extraordinary hubris are at an end; that compassionate and democratic capitalism will reign again.

Poverty can bring out terrible things in nations and people. We are at risk of more than becoming poor. We can become fractious, envious, punitive and eager for the blame game. But hard times, and they seem to be coming, can also be a corrective for a course that has veered in the wrong direction. Hard times can make for good or better neighbors. In bad times it is possible to hang together in ways that once seemed impossible.

So let's keep on praying for our daily bread, the necessities of life; for the protection of the poor, the hungry, and the homeless. And let us continue to pray that wisdom and compassion will prevail and that our hearts will grow bigger in the difficult time we share. At times the presidential election seems to have taken a backseat to more pressing matters. The reality is that the election has taken on even greater importance. May God preserve the man who wins.

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