March 9, 2008

Prayers of the People

John H. Boyle, Parish Associate

Ever-present God, you were there in the dawning light of creation and you were there in the shadowy darkness of the crucifixion of Incarnate Love. In this somber season, as we accompany our Lord Jesus Christ during the last days and hours of his life upon the earth, we give thanks for your presence with us and for the company of those loved ones, friends, colleagues, and, sometimes, strangers who in their own way accompany us as we make our pilgrimage through life. For the blessing of your and their companionship, we give you thanks.

It is a dangerous world we live in, O God, but then you know that. A world where acts of terror happen as a result of religious and political passion or by the twisted thinking of the disturbed. Help us, living under such a terrifying sense of threat, to keep from organizing our lives around it and the terror it spawns. Grant us the understanding that it is in the refuge of your ever-present love that our security lies, even though we may be in danger all the day long. So may we be freed from bondage to fear that might otherwise cause us to back away from conflicts and controversies in which we may need to be engaged in order to witness faithfully to your truth and justice.

Gracious God, we pray that those of us who have been spared what others suffer in abundance, may seek to become advocates for those who suffer the injustices of life and at the hands of others. Grant that we do so not to assuage whatever guilt we experience for having been spared, but out of gratitude for having been blessed.

Dear God, in a world where politicians crisscross the country in search of votes and the poor crisscross the city in search of work, from dimly lit dawn to deep into darkness, neither able to rest, we give thanks for what is easy for us at times to take for granted, the gift of sleep. We thank you for its restorative power, even as we are mindful of those who are sleep deprived due to economic and end-of-the-world anxiety, illness, depression, and even exhaustion itself. We pray for them as well as for those who have begun the journey into the sleep of death. May they all be aware in some way that you, who slumbers not nor sleeps, are watching over them and being with them. Help us all, when we do sleep or allow ourselves to be put to sleep, to know that in doing so we are participating in an act of faith, of courage, of trust. So may we daily entrust ourselves to and rest in your dependable love and care.

Suffering God, as our Lord was mocked by his torturers, so are we mocked by the questions that haunt us. Who am I? Why am I here? What’s it all about? Is this all there is? Where am I headed? Is there life after death? They mock us, these questions, for our answers are never enough and only provoke more questions. We soon learn that all our attempts at mastery over what is ultimately mystery are in vain. Teach us, dear God, how to live with mystery with faith and courage in the face of it. In the midst of the darkness of mystery and of the unknown, may the light of your love and of your Word made flesh in Jesus Christ be enough for us to entrust ourselves to you.

When, O God, in our dislike of others we may want to mock them with ridicule and sarcasm, help us to resist the temptation to sit in the seat of the scornful. And when we are the objects of the mockery and the scorn of others, keep us from retaliating in kind.

So may we learn, by your grace and with your aid, to imitate, to mimic our Lord, who entrusted himself to you as he walked the lonesome valley of the shadow of his death, neither despising those who mocked him nor despairing as one who had no hope.

We ask all this in his name as we pray together the prayer he taught, saying,

Our Father . . .