Sometimes you fight. Sometimes you pray for peace.

It’s been a rough week for many of us survivors of rape.

Some of the responses to Joe Paterno’s death (the one’s that blantently stated that we should forget his role in enabling the rape of young boys in light of his awesome football legacy) had been fighting back panic attacks, tears, hate, and rage as I tried so hard not to let anger suck away all the joy and healing that I’ve managed to find over the past few years. Walking the line between a desire to love/forgive and a desire to live in a just world can be an exhausting task.

But today, thanks to the words left by Scott Morizot in a comment on yesterday’s post, I have managed to find peace. Not joy, or healing, but peace. And that’s a start.

I don’t pray very often anymore. Sometimes, I question the point of prayer, and I still don’t completely understand what that point is.

And I’ve never prayed for the dead before (well, when I was little and my favorite aunt died, I used to ask Jesus to tell her things for me, that’s all).

But today, I prayed for Joe Paterno.

I don’t know what happens after we die. I certainly don’t believe in the fire and brimstone hell that the Baptist church taught me to believe in, but a dark part of me whispers that it wouldn’t mind seeing Joe Paterno there. But I believe in a God that is a hell of a lot more loving and merciful than I am. I believe in a God that can restore even the worst of offenders to wholeness. So, for Joe Paterno, I can only speak these words, bitter and broken.

Kyrie eleison. Requiem in pacem.

Though, even as I speak them, through cracking voice and sobs and tears, I find peace. I find peace in leaving Joe Paterno’s soul in the hands of a God who makes all things good and new.

And, then, I prayed for the survivors of rape–for Sandusky’s victims, and for others, and for me. For those who could hardly turn on the television or read the newspaper or scroll through our Facebook newsfeed without being reminded that the feelings of those who rape and enable rape so often are treated as more important than the feelings of those who are raped. For those of us who felt that tinge of guilt when we heard of Joe Paterno’s death because, deep down in our hearts, we wished for it. For those of us who are lost and confused and longing for healing, this prayer, from Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals.

Lord, why do we suffer?

Why do we hurt?

Shall our only answer

be the eternal abyss of the cosmos?

…Why do the wicked flourish…?

Grant us your healing peace.

And, for those of us who fight for justice. For those of us who feel so overwhelmed with the evil in the world that our happiness collapses under the weight of it all. A prayer for the justice seekers and the peace makers, also from Common Prayer.

Fill us with laughter and joy while we work for peace and strive for justice.


Do you pray? Why, and how, and does it bring you peace? If you’re not the praying type, share some ways in which you cope with rough times like this.

"This is the most cringe-worthy thing I have read. The absolute state of feminist "theology.""

Liberating Liturgies: Virgin Mary and the ..."
"Thank you for this article! I think you're right. one must have a lot of ..."

Veiled Muslim women and revolutionary modesty
"MyGod, you are a vain , obstinate asshole, Jarred."

A little more on the “selfish ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Yes, I pray quite a bit. There is no better way to communicate with LOVE. You will be in my prayers….

  • I think God hears your pain through your darkest rage, and I think he understands that pain and weeps with you. At least, when I read the psalms that begin with David calling down God’s wrath on David’s enemies (and often end with praise), that’s the message I take away.

  • I do pray. Like Lamehousewife said, there’s no better way to communicate with Love…though lately my prayers have been yellings and screamings at a God I believe in, but don’t always like. This whole suffering issue puts distance between us, but I still talk to him. I talk to him because he’s there. Because no matter how far removed my heart is from joy and peace and rest with God, my mind knows that he is real, and that the basic Christian message is true. That is, God made us, and God is love, and someday we get to be with God because He loves us. The logical part of me can’t stop believing in him, because existence happened somehow. I exist…and because I exist I have to believe this story I grew up hearing: that God exists and loves us. There is no other God-story that makes sense to me.

    Yet the tension remains. If Love, then why do such horrid, horrid things happen, especially to children? So my prayings lately have been yellings, but it’s no different than communicating with the ones you live with; they’re there, so you talk. Whether you like each other at the moment or not, you talk.

  • Kate

    Yes I do pray. I pray daily by myself and with my husband. We keep a weekly prayer journal to help us see all the answered prayers and the ones where the Lord says no or wait. It’s been such a blessing to me to look and see the way the Lord answers my requests and the way He chooses to do so. Most of the time in ways I would never have thought of. God calls us to pray. It’s an act of obedience as much as it is an act of faith and love. Faith that He is there and listening and love for a Father who first loved us. When we are in fellowship with God, in His presence, there is no darkness at all. I find I do so much better when I stay in close communion with Jesus daily. Not to say I don’t still deal with trials (just ready blog and you’ll see!) but knowing my joy and peace comes from a never ending source gives me assurance that I will see the Light again.

    “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,” (Ephesians 1:18 NASB)

  • brambonius

    Good question….I’ve been struggling with prayer too myself… Coming from a charismatic tradition it seemed to me sometimes people were using God as a personal genie, that would only listen if we ask things the right way and make enough noise. This cannot be the meaning of prayer…

    It should be interacting with the Creator, and interacting isn’t only asking but also listening… And one thing is also that it doesn’t only affect God and makes Him do things, it should affect us, change us, make us live a life more aligned with God, something I see in your prayers here…

    I also noticed the kyrie…I think we can learn a lot from other traditions (and from people like Scott) I got tired from always have to make my own prayers and always have to find the words myself, and prayers of others can be stimulating to look at thing from another angle. (and that common prayer book is also very inspiring)

    I’d like to have a life with more prayer and meditation, to de more rooted in God, in Love, in the Spirit, but I struggle with my ADD and my work schemes and the baby who wants attention and my internet addiction etc etc… But I’m working on it. If eternity will be being fully restored to God and live in complete perichoretic union with God and creation I might as well practce…

  • KMR

    I pray like I breathe. Continously, without thought, as if my survival were dependent on it. I would like to say it makes me more holy, that I see things answered, lives changes, blessing poured down. I don’t. For all I know they stop where they originated. But I pray because as my doubts increased, my faith also increased, and I find that even though I have no certainty anymore, I do have hope. Hope that He is there, listening and loving, and one day in His own timing, will make all things new. And “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain…” I pray because I hope and hope gives me peace.

  • I’m glad I said something helpful. I’m often not sure if the things I say will be or not. I don’t know much, but at middle age, I’ve learned that life is a long haul and people (including ourselves) are rarely as black or white as we might sometimes like. I think we have to look for the little ways to avoid binding ourselves to our pain and making it our identity, letting it define us.

    These days my prayer rule seems to have been mostly reduced to the Jesus Prayer. I don’t really know why. I’ve had a series on Prayer bouncing around my head for a couple of months now. Maybe I’ll write it at some point.


  • This really spoke to me Sarah. I can’t imagine how hard all of this fallout from Penn State must affect those who have been victims of rape. As a small word of encouragement I will say that the local Philadelphia paper did report very unfavorably about the attempts to “white wash” Joe Paterno in the aftermath of his firing and death.

    I’m so glad you were able to find comfort in prayer. I do pray. Sometimes it’s just me yelling at God or crying in bed over why life seems to be so full of pain. I love that you found prayers in the book of common prayer. Having grown up in a tradition that did not pray written down prayers, I have found comfort in praying written down prayers. It helps the most when I don’t know what to say. I’ll be continuing to pray for you. I’m also looking forward to hear about your continued church experiences!