Many years ago, when my mother said night prayers with my brothers and me each night, we said a special prayer for Uncle Teddy, Mom’s brother, who was no longer attending Church on Sundays. Those prayers were answered before he died. Now I still find myself praying for family members for the same reason. It is a worry that so many people share with us. Many of the petitions we get for prayers are for children, grandchildren and other relatives who have left the Church.
Not long ago I came across an article written by Father Ronald Rolheiser that I found very encouraging in regard to people whose family members or close friends have left the Church. It is entitled: “Incarnation Imparts Power”, and can be found in his book, Forgotten Among the Lilies. It can also be found on Ronald Rolheiser’s website, where I found it.
In the article Father Rolheiser reminds us that we need to love and challenge those family members who have gone astray. We can do this by our own faithfulness, by our lives more than our words. He also reminds us that in John’s Gospel, Jesus says to his disciples after his resurrection, “Whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; whose sins you retain, they are retained.” He goes on to say that if you love someone and they accept your love, because you are part of the body of Christ, they, too, are bound to the body of Christ and sustained in salvation.
This is a powerful thought. We, as members of Christ’s body can forgive the sins of others. As long as we continually love them and hold them in our lives, they are still part of the Church. Our love for them and our prayers for them are powerful, indeed. You may have read that St. Monica, the mother of St. Augustine, a Doctor of the Church, prayed for many years for her son’s conversion. She lived to see her prayer answered. We, too, must believe in the power of our living faithfully in the church and our prayer for our loved ones.
In our monastery, after we read aloud intentions that people send us by mail, e-mail or phone calls, we keep all of them in a big urn right in front of our choir stalls in chapel. When we pray the Liturgy of the Hours six times a day we include all of those intentions in our prayer.
We, the Poor Clares of Montana, would like you to know that you and your intentions are always in our prayer. The very center of our lives and our vocation as Poor Clares is to pray with and for you. Please feel free to contact us and let us know how we can assist you in prayer. We are so grateful for your support over the years since our arrival here in Montana. As St. Paul says in his letter to the Colossians “We always give thanks to God, the Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you.”( Col. 1,3)