Praying for the Dead: Early Morning Rant


On one of the various listservs to which I belong someone asked for prayers on behalf of people in a particularly stressful moment.

What surprised me was how several people responded expressing their opinion that such things are of no use, and offered suggestions for what the person should do.

I was, frankly, shocked. This is putatively a group of people with a bit better than average insight into the human condition.

Silly me…

And it set me to thinking, a little. Don’t want to do too much of that, of course. Not good for one’s health, it appears…

I find myself reminded of something I read about the Christian Orthodox Church. It appears while they have no official position on the state of the dead, or whether or not one’s prayers might be useful for the dead, nonetheless, they pray for the dead.

I kind of like that.

And, I think, it speaks to how we should meet those of our sisters and brothers in distress. Someone asks you to pray for them. Does it really matter if you don’t think prayers are efficacious. What matters is that you show you care. (And, perhaps, maybe, not likely, but who knows, really, the prayers might be answered…)

Bottom line, is how do we want to live with others? Do we want to be someone like that cartoon that made the rounds of social media a few years ago, where off scene someone calls out, “It’s two in the morning, come to bed.” And the person sitting at the computer replying, “No. Somewhere on the web someone is saying something that needs correcting.”

Now, I have strong opinions about fringe medicine. Every once in a while it gets the better of me and I say something unkind to a friend. So, I’m not claiming to be better than anyone else. But, also, I feel bad about it, after, and I resolve to do better next time.

What’s the rule?

Oh, yes.

Is it true?
Is it kind?
Is it necessary?

You need two of the three and in the best of worlds all three to speak to those in distress.

Now, that necessary part can be a really son of a gun. If I thought telling someone what I think of homeopathy might actually shift their behavior in a healthy way, great. If it is just showing my opinion of their critical thinking skills, well…

So, someone asks you to pray for them.

If you can’t bring yourself to say, yes, which is the best answer, although that forces you to try a prayer; you can always say I will carry my hope for you in my heart. Hopefully that would be true.

Save the advice for later, for an appropriate moment.

Everyone will be better off…

A Wild Hare
Rowing that Boat
Enter the Flashmob
Gerard Manley Hopkins: Remembering a Poet on His Birthday

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