Open Letter to My Priests – Seeking Spiritual Guidance.
The Divine Plan – a Pope and a President united in faith secretly set out together to bring down the evil Soviet empire, the dreadful Berlin Wall and murderous Communist-Marxist bloc that had plagued the world for nearly a century. They succeed. Without a shot fired. One of the greatest peaceful triumphs of freedom in history. How?
Today, humanity is being rapidly overtaken by a dark culture of persecution, a global Marxist-Communist revolution masquerading as humanitarianism. Will it topple our government? Our churches? Very possibly.
Our Lord suffered persecution. Two thousand years on, most every rhythm of western civilization is alive with His moral teachings. Deeply transformative and profoundly enduring, His Christianity is why we have civilization at all. Christianity’s conscience and moral values flourish everywhere, with or without Christians.
How do we amend the course of this raging cultural river of persecution and redirect it towards Saint Pope John Paul II’s vision of building a civilization of love? Culture, he says. Transforming culture.
How? Only when holiness and culture are brought together can the transformation we are seeking begin.
Building a civilization of love, in the immediacy, may in fact be saving civilization from annihilation. At present, there exists a wide divide between holiness and culture. Social unrest threatens to further separate the two beyond measure.
We the American People
The accomplishment of transforming culture chiefly depends on the laity. In America, We the People.
We the People must engage to change this tide, transform culture. Otherwise, today’s turbulence will either dictate the present indefinitely or resurface again and again, gaining more totalitarian power each time until the world is overwhelmed. It is an insatiable beast. Let us not be undone. Easier said than done!
Always, it is We the People who make history, change history. The Divine Plan. How?
The People of Poland made history when thirteen million Poles defied half a century of brutal religious suppression by the Communist regime and flooded the streets to lovingly cheer Pope John Paul II. Thirteen million people! President Reagan saw it and knew the Pope and the People were key to turning the tide and bringing the malevolent Soviet empire to an end. It was more. They both felt a Divine Plan.
On the surface, today’s anarchists, socialists, communists et al. say their goal is to take down America; destroy its founding principles. A more accurate, though unspoken agenda is to vanquish Christianity. Judeo-Christian moral conscience is the very foundation of America – and all western civilization. To take down one is to simultaneously take down both.
The Most Reverend Bishop Barbarito reminds us Abraham Lincoln referred to America’s Declaration of Independence as “that immortal emblem of humanity” – all are created free and equal in the image of God.
Father, Fearful regarding this attack on Christianity, when I sought your guidance, you kindly enlightened me saying, “the Church has been persecuted for 2,000 years.” Instantly, I felt freed. So simple, so perfect, so everlasting. Be not afraid. Thank you.
Your words led me to reflect on the Church’s beginnings and the Apostles. Jesus Christ told twelve nobodies in the middle of nowhere to go forth, share the Good News with all nations on Earth. And so it began. In barely a few hundred years the dark culture transformed, became Christian. The People did it merely by sharing and living the Gospel; the immoral, totalitarian Roman Empire collapsed.
Candle Out from Under the Basket
Today, Judeo-Christian moral values are known throughout the world, but the problem I’m seeking guidance on is best described by Pope Paul VI. “Christianity seems absent from social life and faith is relegated to the private sphere”; hidden, invisible, thus life in society has become “secularized under pressure from the models of thought and action spread by the prevailing culture.”
How to bring holiness and culture together in a secularized, increasingly totalitarian, cancel culture world? Through the Grace of God, I pray to always remember two words: Imitate Christ. He gave comfort to the sick and the suffering – charity. First he prayed. He taught us how to pray.
Catholic prayer has a scientific role to play in medicine. The secular world trusts the scientific method, which it actually learned from the Catholic Church’s historical, precise and rational cultivation of knowledge and truth.
Prayer is a legitimate medical therapy, per medical science. Prayer has been studied scientifically and shown to eliminate or reduce depression, relieve stress and increase relaxation. The Rosary is one. Reducing clinical depression can be lifesaving by preventing suicides, especially among the young, where it is on the rise. More studies are needed.
My proposal for therapeutic prayer takes the candle out from under the basket, at long last. We “are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14) Therapeutic prayer gives the Gospel and the Church a seat at the heretofore secular science table; prayer made fully visible and integrated in the medical community – and society – to aid the sick and suffering. No longer consigned to the hidden, private sphere, it’s more than a small chapel in a concealed corner of the hospital or an anonymous prayer minister tiptoeing into a patient’s room. Rather a mainstream public acknowledgement, taught in medical schools, offered by every doctor to every patient in need as a legitimate therapeutic option.
If most medical professionals are anything like my oncologists, they will pull up the studies on their computer to show me the stats, such as nearly 80% of cancer patients say prayer reduces stress and anxiety. Ideally, a doctor can add, “Here is a Therapeutic Prayer Ministry you have the option to call. They are trained to guide you in therapeutic prayer, free of charge.” Research affirms that many physicians, even the atheists, say they wish they had some faith-based referral they could give patients in times of crisis.
Dialogue is a medium of culture, it raises awareness, but there must be common ground for conversation, not divided rooms sealed off from interaction, understanding or exposure to each other. And it must be credible.
Visitor: Who is that person?
Nurse: A Therapeutic Prayer Minister from St Jude, here to teach a patient how to use certain prayers known to reduce anxiety. It’s doctor recommended, confirmed by science.
Visitor: I never knew that. I should look into it for my teenager. Who can I contact? (said with hope… “Faith which becomes culture is the source of hope.” St Pope JPII)
Nurse: There is a large sign by the elevator listing all free services or ask your doctor’s office. The hospital has weekly Lunch & Learn events, check the calendar for ‘therapeutic prayer’.
We know prayer brings us closer to God, thus prayer is healing.
St Pope JPII, “Be convinced of this: the strength of the Gospel is capable of transforming the cultures of our times by its leaven of justice and of charity in truth and solidarity. Faith which becomes culture is the source of hope.” We can trust the ‘leaven’ of the Gospel. We need to bring it out of the private sphere and into the mainstream light of day; the candle out from under the basket. The medical field has long been considered an exemplar of authority and expertise. Credible and extensive. So too, the Church.
At this crucial time in history, the case for promoting the formal medical classification of studied prayer is strong and humanity’s need great. Pope Benedict XVI, “the real problem at this moment of our history is God is disappearing from the human horizon, and, with the diminishing of the light which comes from God, humanity is losing its bearings, with increasingly evident destructive effects.”
This “diminishing of the light” creates an unfulfilled need, a void. Unless the void is filled with goodness then something unsuitable or depraved masquerading as humanitarian will rush in to advantage itself of the weak and needy who, in their desperation, mistake it for solace. It is happening in front of our eyes. This gaping medical void (cultural void) is calling for Christ, for prayer.
Father, You also spoke about joy. Joy, gratitude, freedom, hope are all places to begin for bringing holiness and culture together. These gifts from God are gateways to joy and holy commonalities among all people, be their beliefs secular or spiritual. Even science agrees these are healing.
Bringing holiness and culture together, the laity needs our Church’s involvement. We need our priests, their strength and fortitude in Christ, their blessings, sacraments and spiritual guidance to help direct our steps. Is my prayer something the Church can undertake an expanded role in helping to give the Gospel and prayer an honest seat at the secular medical table? It is not politics or patriotism.
In St Pope JPII’s call for a New Evangelization a culture that is more informed by Christian moral values would also be more genuinely human, would offer more freedom and liberty, in that it centers on true dignity of the human person. It is not to convert, only to share and serve people of all faiths including those of no faith.
POSTSCRIPT: Kind Reader, My “Open Letter to My Priest” is not to any one priest. It is to all priests…. and to all faithful. Wholeheartedly, I welcome all responses.
The first priest who responded (Father Frank) immediately put my fears to rest when he reminded me, “God has already won the victory”.
Father also reminded me of a passage in Acts of the Apostles 5:38-39, “… for if this endeavor or this activity is of human origin, it will destroy itself.” Again, calmed my fears. The darkness seeming to be taking over our great country will not succeed.
Acts of the Apostles continues, specifically of the Apostles, “But if it comes from God, you will not be able to destroy them”.
For us, apply this to PRAYER – which comes from God and cannot be destroyed. It is time to take the candle out from under the basket and give prayer – which is a legitimate medical therapy, per science – an equal, well-deserved seat at the medical table. Prayer is proven to eliminate or reduce depression, relieve stress, reduce anxiety and increase relaxation.
We can make prayer fully visible and integrated in the medical community – and society – to aid the sick and suffering. Imitatio Christi – and we cannot go wrong!
To begin, I have formed the St Jude Therapeutic Prayer Ministry, Inc. Ideally, Prayer Counselors will be available at medical centers to guide people in therapeutic prayer and pray with people in need; teaching them how to pray on their own for however long it takes – weeks and months. Also, on call to help long distance or virtual.
And it will be free, upon request. Doctors want it as an option they can recommend. Hospitals, too. Let’s give them a phone number to call.
Are you with us?
Respectfully in Christ,
Acelia Grassi McEvers