On Mr. Rogers and prayer

How’s this for a little Sunday morning lectio: a story about the day Fred Rogers met a boy with cerebral palsy.  Mr. Rogers asks the boy to pray for him:

The boy had always been prayed for. The boy had always been the object of prayer, and now he was being asked to pray for Mister Rogers, and although at first he didn’t know if he could do it, he said he would, he said he’d try, and ever since then he keeps Mister Rogers in his prayers and doesn’t talk about wanting to die anymore, because he figures Mister Rogers is close to God, and if Mister Rogers likes him, that must mean God likes him, too. As for Mister Rogers himself … well, he doesn’t look at the story in the same way that the boy did or that I did. In fact, when Mister Rogers first told me the story, I complimented him on being so smart–for knowing that asking the boy for his prayers would make the boy feel better about himself–and Mister Rogers responded by looking at me at first with puzzlement and then with surprise. “Oh, heavens no, Tom! I didn’t ask him for his prayers for him; I asked for me. I asked him because I think that anyone who has gone through challenges like that must be very close to God. I asked him because I wanted his intercession.”

More on Fred Rogers here. God bless him.

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15 responses to “On Mr. Rogers and prayer”

  1. JMJ Deacon Kandra. Prayer is a Petition and also Praise, Thanksgiving to God. I’m surprised that no one in his family taught the Child to Pray for Sinners to Pray for everyone. When we ask someone to Pray for us it’s not to make them “Feel Good” (Nor us) about themselves it’s a Plea to God for his help and Mercy. Prayer to the Saints, Our blessed Mother is our asking them to Intercede with God for our Needs, his Graces. Their are alot of people who pray for others at the same time offer their Great Suffering to God for others. Padre Pio with some friends was celebrating a birthdate (in his 70’s i think, not positive) one of his Friends Wished him many More years. He said to the friend, “You must not like me” (Not exact but similar to them) As we Well, most of us, He Suffered Greatly for Christ for Many years, He didn’t feel good all the time. He Loved God., With his Whole Being. Respecrfully with Love, Joseph J. Pippet

  2. Fred Rogers is one of the very few celebrities I feel poorer for not having met in person. I did have a near-opportunity to do so near the end of his life, but it didn’t pan out for reasons I can’t remember now. He always struck me as a fundamentally decent person, to such an extent that it’s hard to imagine it being an act or persona he just cultivated for TV. I think if Diogenes had lived long enough, he might have found his honest man in Fred Rogers.

  3. I think Mr. Rogers, if Catholic, would have been a saint one day. I don’t think that man ever did anything seriously wrong. His devotion to his family and children helped so many young and old.
    I read many books by him and about him and they all say
    “he is as he seems” very genuine and loving.

    One author followed him around for days and every time he thought he would lose his patience, he learned something from him.
    One day a woman at church, started to ramble about the war and what was wrong with it, going on and on and embarrassing the preacher it seemed. He thought when it was over, Fred would agree, that was not right, but he went over to her and gave her a hug. Later he said she must have lost someone in the war, maybe more than one, she was in a lot of pain. He , the author, couldn’t see past his own feelings, something Mr. Rogers taught him to do.

  4. I think that it is a shame that all good persons, whether Catholic or other, are not recognized as the saints they are. It seems unfortunate that we, as a people, reserve this to our Catholicism.

  5. This is really interesting take on the concept. I never thought of it that way. I came across this site recently which I think it will be a great use of new ideas and informations. Thanks a lot.

  6. I met Mr. Rogers once, when I was a teenager ushering at a theater in Pittsburgh. I validated his parking ticket! All of us high schoolers at the concession booth were in awe and he signed our programs and seemed very touched that we would care about a “children’s performer.” There was an “Arthur” episode in which the big bully character was thrilled to meet Mr. Rogers, and the first time we saw it I told my kids “That’s true! That happened to me!” All our sophistication vanished, we were like little kids.

    I have never forgotten those few minutes, he was a really wonderful man and I think he understood children the way few adults do. I read a whole essay one time about the “socialist” tones of his show — supposedly because he would show people working at their jobs. He wasn’t a socialist! He just knew that children, especially preschool children, are fascinated by what adults do. They want to see people work because they want to know what work is like! He knew how to talk slowly and patiently, how to explain EVERYTHING step by step, and how to tell kids they were special (without overdoing it and without that cloying “everyone is special” that kids know means nothing at all).

    Joe “Handyman” Negri is Catholic, BTW.

  7. When in my 3rd year of seminary (Asbury Theological), one of my professors, a good friend of Mr. Rogers; told us that Rogers was a fully ordained Presbyterian minister. It is also a little know fact that Mr. Rogers was a former Special Forces veteran of Veitnam. His gentleness is his most enduring legacy.

  8. I worked at WQED in the 1980s and had the great joy and privilege of running into him in the elevator from time to time.

    My favorite close encounter with Mister Rogers happened “in the neighborhood” near the WQED studios about a decade later. While out running errands one evening, I carried my newborn daughter (in her carrier) into a local card shop. It had started to storm outside, and I was stuck in a long line at the register. My daughter started crying…that insistent, newborn wail.

    I looked around, feeling guilty for subjecting my new baby to a shopping excursion and for subjecting fellow shoppers to my unhappy baby. Who should be standing in line directly behind me but Fred Rogers! He reached down into the car seat and stroked my daughter’s head while saying something in that gentle, soothing manner of his. She stopped crying instantly and simply gazed at him. He definitely had the touch.

    What a sweet man. A real gift to humanity.

  9. @ #4 Deb

    ” if Catholic , Mr. Rogers would have been a saint one day ”
    What about the ” saints ” in Ephesus or Colosse ?
    Eph. 1:1; 3:8 ; 6:18 and Col 1:2 ,12 , 26
    Saints are those who are sanctified in Jesus Christ and who call on the name of Jesus Christ. Any ” true ” Christian is a saint !!

  10. Jireh, yes, you are correct, he is a saint, you don’t have to be “made” one pe rse.

    I loved how he would take you to the crayon factory or Little Tykes and have you meet the workers and validate them. Later, when I would see a Little Tyke item, I would remember the faceless people that work so hard to make the items we use.

    I wrote him when my son at 18months needed an operation and in the recovery room he was crying. I asked if they would play his Mr. Roger cassete and they did, you could see him quiet right down and the nurses loved it. He just wrote what a wonderful mother I was and I cried.

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