How to Pray for the Nation

Got this from reader Alexandra, and thought it was such incredibly simple (but profound) advice, that I had to share it. It really humbled and instructed me:

. . .when the Bush-Gore recount battle was going on, I asked my parish priest, a very wise man who loves Christ, how to discern God’s will. I wasn’t asking so much for his opinion on the politics of the day but when I am in one of these political battles and a religious person, can I discern God’s will in the course of trying to decide whether I should write letters, call my Congressperson, or whatever?

His simple answer was “God’s will will always be for the salvation of the individual involved.”

So I try every day now to pray for the salvation of the president, all members of Congress, and the American people. I cast my cares upon the Lord.

We are in a deeper battle here, which you well know . . . I also think in the end this all has to do with the salvation of souls, including the souls of our president and these politicians who deign to rule over the rest of us. I think we who believe must hold fast to Christ, the True Center, and bring as many along with us as possible.

Yes. How perfectly right. God’s will will always be for the salvation of the individual involved. And it follows that the salvation of the individual involved will lie in that individual’s conforming him/herself to the Word and Will of God.

Chew on that, for a while.

While you’re chewing, also take a gander at Deacon Greg’s excellent homily for the Fifth Sunday of Lent. It’s a great reflection of the woman caught in adultery, the compassion and justice of Christ, resolve, penance and the nature of gratitude.

Christ’s final command to the woman is so simple, so direct. Go, he says. Begin. Leave this place. Set out on your journey. Go.

He could have ended with that. But he didn’t. What follows are words we are meant to carry in our hearts as we turn our gaze toward Calvary. They are words of mercy. Words of compassion. Words of grace in a world where grace is so often in short supply.

So…To anyone living with a painful past… to anyone who struggles with remorse and regret….to those who feel they have done something unforgivable…take heart. We can begin again. The words of the gospel remind us that God wants to give us another chance. For some of us, it may be a second chance – for others, a 22nd. But it begins with making a choice, taking that first step. Are we able to do it?

Of all the words in the gospel that we have heard over these last four weeks, these may be the ones that matter the most. They are the great legacy of Lent.

Go, Jesus says. And from now on, do not sin anymore.

He certainly has a way with words, doesn’t he? I can’t believe he’s not Irish.

Tonight my husband and I watched The Stoning of Soraya M; very disturbing film, with many parallels to Christ’s contrived trial and murder. I recommend it for Lenten viewing, for many reasons. But it is not easy to watch. It is not easy to realize that mobs with no interest in a given situation can be so easily electrified. It’s not easy in many ways. And it brings home today’s Gospel reading, even more fully.

Like Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden has also decided to use his religion for the purposes of political expediency. Reading that, and considering all that has passed in this nation in the last few years and the last few weeks, I am profoundly grateful for the instruction of a good priest: “God’s will will always be for the salvation of the individual involved.”

Pray for salvation. For everyone. It may be our best, most effective prayer.

We are certainly living in interesting times, aren’t we?

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Bender

    It is not easy to realize that mobs with no interest in a given situation can be so easily electrified. It’s not easy in many ways. And it brings home today’s Gospel reading, even more fully.

    It is a very powerful film — but mostly because it is powerful truth. Such things happen on a routine basis. That is because we are not talking about “mobs,” much less mobs with no interest in a given situtation.

    We are talking about a particular culture, from a particular religion, one that does not recognize the Gospel. Rather, it is a culture and religion that takes great interest, that demands the stoning of the woman because of her “offense” against her husband and Allah, so as to protect the “honor” of Islam and the husband.

    Thank the Lord that our Lord is Jesus Christ. And pray for the girls and women of Islam.

  • DJ

    We saw The Stoning of Soraya M at a small alternative theater when it was released. We were part of a tiny audience. There weren’t many people in the Seattle area interested in it. Had it been about some abuse of a person by a group of Christians, it would have been SRO, I assure you. Anyway, for days and even weeks after we saw it, I found myself at odd moments rehearing the dreadful sound torn from Soraya as her own son stoned her.
    If she had only understood that what seemed unthinkable COULD happen and had taken measures to put distance between herself and the menace. Made me think about how most of us find it unthinkable that our world, our country could ever take a really bad turn.

  • Jeff

    I would call Biden and Pelosi the Cromwell of our time, but that would be an insult to Cromwell. Biden has always been the dumbest, most self-conscious phony in the Congress, but Cromwell was a genius. Pelosi, well, Pelosi, just look at her face.

    All faithful Catholics should look at and pray to St. Thomas More now. More would make mincemeat of these people.

  • skeeter

    The Orthodox church is celebrating this weekend the feast of St. Mary of Egypt. Her story is often embedded in the Canon of St. Andrew. When thinking about salvation, of others or of myself, both the Canon and St. Mary’s story are stellar reading/praying. Mary of a harlot of unbelievable depravity – yet was redeemed from her debauched past. If she can be redeemed there is hope, even for such as Pelosi, Biden, Obama……and me.

  • Gayle Miller

    Frightening that this cretin, Biden, is a heartbeat away from the presidency. I will pray for his enlightenment as well as that he achieves a more complete knowledge of the faith he claims as his own! It bears no resemblance to the faith in which I was raised and educated!

    Jeff is right – we should be asking St. Thomas More to give us the kind of strength he possessed.

  • pam

    Alexandra is so right about praying for the souls of our leaders. Immaculee Ilibagiza who lost most of her friends and family in the Rwandan genocide said something along these lines…the problem was that most people were praying for the demise of the genocidal leaders and not for their conversion. I highly recommend Immaculee’s book “Our Lady of Kibeho.” There could be troubled times ahead for all of us unless we heed our Lady’s warning.

  • Bender

    More would make mincemeat of these people.

    Yes, but then they would go and chop his head off and continue on their way.

  • Sal

    Not just for salvation, which is of course the main goal, but for healing, as well.
    I’ll leave the actual diagnosis to the psych-bloggers, like One Cosmos and Dr. Sanity, but if you look at President Obama with any attention at all, it is clear that there is something very wrong there.
    Anchoress, you’ve been a channel of strength the last few days, with these wonderful iinks and your own inimitable posts. Thank you.

  • paul

    “… can I discern God’s will in the course of trying to decide whether I should write letters, call my Congressperson, or whatever?”

    On this Sunday, the day of the vote, two prayers come to mind:

    “This is the day the Lord hast made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

    Thy will be done.

  • Manny L.

    I love that story of the adulterous woman. Another example of Christ’s ministry of mercy. He doesn’t even wait for her to ask for forgiveness. She never does actually.

    On the other subject, why is that those the left can link their policies to religion, and if the right even remotely mentions religion they cry separation of church and state? What hypocrisy. I’m not exactly feeling Christian love for the left today.

    These may be interesting times, but they are times that try my soul. God forgive me for my feelings.

  • Kirstin

    “His simple answer was ‘God’s will will always be for the salvation of the individual involved.’”

    God’s will does not end there, and many in Congress are already saved. Certainly it’s right to pray for wisdom for our leaders too.

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  • Ally

    Oh dear. I am not sure how St. Thomas would feel about his name followed by the words “make mincemeat.” Surely you meant to say, Thomas More would explain his position and urge them correct their mistakes, right? Because that’s what he did.

    Here is his recipe for strength: “Let us protect us with faith and comfort us with hope, and smite with the firebrand of charity.”

    Here is his recipe for endurance : “Hold on your way with good cheer and a glad heart.”

    St. Thomas did not see himself as a source of strength. He let God’s strength shine through him. Rather than look at Thomas More as an example of strength, let’s look to him as an example of faith.

  • Mary

    After Mass today we had brunch with the family. The topic was: What do you think Jesus wrote in the dirt? The answers ranged from “hangman” to ” He was doodling to avoid the others” to “others’ sins”. what do YOU think he was writing in the sand?

  • Robb76

    Our priest suggested that Jesus wrote the names of the sinners in the crowd. And when they did not leave he wrote their specific sins and then they left. Worked for me.

  • Pamela Husted

    God save the United States of America. God save us all.

    This is the day our country died.

    Now my government may go in and out of my bank account without my permission.

    Now we hire 16,500 IRS workers to enforce the deal.

    Now the US Govt takes over all Student Loan programs and 32K lose their jobs (except for one bank in ND where someone kissed —.)

    Even though here in the San Joaquin Valley of California, Jim Costa and Cardoza voted yes to get us more water. I will do whathever I can to see that these two never hold any public office. They are whores.

    Pandering is not the only thing Pelosi and Obama should be arrested for: How about High Crimes and Misdemeaners? They’re supposed to protect me. LOL.

    May you find what you were looking for.

    Be careful what you day–your neighbors are listening.

    Welcome to the world of soft tyranny.

  • Graceia

    Thank you for your wisdom. I have been praying today for our great United States and its leaders; that they would respect the will of the people, and that God’s will be done, whatever the outcome of the vote.

    I had been praying for our representatives and our president, but not in quite the terms you defined.

    As difficult as it is to pray when you are angry or afraid, it is then we need to pray the most and in the most careful way, lest our prayers be nothing more than our selfish wants.

    So again, I say thank you for your insight and wisdom.

  • Brandy Miller

    To quote “So this is how democracy dies – to thunderous applaus.”

    We traded our freedom for the promise of safety, something no government can give because it isn’t theirs to offer. Let us pray with all our hearts for the conversion not only for those who are visibly our leaders but for those who are the puppet masters behind them pulling their strings. May God have mercy on us all.

  • catherine

    My husband & I just watched The Stoning of Soraya this past Thursday evening. I knew it would be difficult to watch, but felt that I had to, and I am glad that I did, although many parts of it have haunted me for days since. I found myself praying for her and all the women in her situation, while at mass this Sunday. And at other times when I wake during the night. I remarked to my husband the parallel I saw between the weakness of Pilate, and the weakness of the mayor. You are right, Anchoress, so many reasons to watch it this Lent…

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  • Just_Saying

    I have been asking how to pray for our leaders, since I absolutely detest Obummer and all he stands for. (Since he is merely a shill for others, perhaps he isn’t our leader, and I am not called to pray for him? Oh, well, just trying to get out of it…)

    Thanks, Anchoress, for the article. I am having great difficulty praying for Obummer and this administration. Maybe Biden and Pelosi are next in line simply because God knows we’d be less apt to pray for bad things if we knew we’d only get Biden or Pelosi if something happened to Obummer.

    I believe our country is currently under God’s judgment — thus, this administration. It’s really quite the exercise in trusting God and following the Word… I can enthusiastically pray that we will return to God.