When I think of perseverance this week I think of some of the men I minister to at Rayburn Correctional Center. Currently we have over 65 men attending Mass and prayer services and we have confessions at least once a month. Additionally, we have one man preparing for entry into the church, two preparing to be confirmed and another who will receive his first communion soon. Despite their wrong, and living out their sentence in a state prison facility, these men are persevering in prayer, growing in faith, working out their salvation. One of the men recently told me his return to the faith, even at a place like Rayburn, has helped rekindle a relationship with his father. He went on to tell me, before these recent events, he felt like his life did not matter; or said another way, he was one of those called irredeemable. He is not, and no one is. We are all children of God and we are all called to persevere, never give up and be persistent in prayer.
Todays readings and psalm are certainly well connected and have the theme of prayerful persistence. In our 1st reading we find Moses praying with arms uplifted during a crucial battle between Amalek and Joshua. As long as Moses could keep his arms uplifted, the battle went well for Joshua. As he grew tired and his arms would fall, Amalek would have the better of the battle. But Moses wanted to persist in his intercessory prayer, with arms uplifted, so Aaron and Hur helped him keep his arms lifted until the battle was won. In our battles, we must keep our arms raised in prayer and when we grow weary, we should ask others to hold us up in prayer.
In todays Gospel we find a very persistent widow, one who wearies an unjust judge. Now this parable, found only in Luke, helps us understand that if the judge will give the widow what she needs, how much more our heavenly Father. God provides, he cares for all of us and He longs to give us what we truly need, even if it is not what we sometimes want.
So we are called to persevere in prayer, when convenient and inconvenient. We look to the Lord, from where our help truly comes.
Today much of our country is seriously concerned about the upcoming election; and rightly so. Just in time, this week our Archbishop, Gregory Aymond, addresses this in his recent letter and now his article in the Clarion Herald. I invite you to sincerely read carefully, with eyes of faith, what our Shepherd and Teacher is telling us. First he is clear, he, or no other clergy, is telling anyone WHO to vote for. And when he tells us what to pray about in what we vote for , he is telling us our faith, not a platform of political parties that did not even exist when this was, is and always will be the teaching of the Church. Archbishop Aymond makes clear that as Church we are concerned about many things, from abortion to religious liberty, to immigration and care of the poor to name but a few. And the Archbishop also makes it crystal clear that prudential judgement does not mean that all choices are equally valid. Some issues, like abortion, cloning, redefining marriage to name but three, must always be opposed. And let me be clear here, these are the Archbishop's words and endorsed by the USCCB. As Bishop Kurtz, President of the USCCB says, the Gospel serves all of the common good, not any political agenda.
This much I know, the election will end soon, November 8th to be exact and there will be a winner. Half of the nation will wake up on the 9th ok and half not so ok. But if we are a person of faith, if we understand WHO is really in charge, we all should be a prayerful, hopeful, faith-filled people. Pray for our nation, pray for one another, pray for those who support all the candidates, not just the one you will vote for. And be kind, please, be kind. Persist in prayer, persevere in faith. Be as persistent and hopeful as those men I am privileged to minister with at Rayburn Prison. And if we need more encouragement, let's remember and pray these words from St. Teresa of Avila:
Let nothing disturb you
Let nothing frighten you
All things are passing away
God never changes
Patience obtains all things
Whoever has God lacks nothing
God alone suffices!!!!