Attorney General Eric Holder has been hospitalized with symptoms of what could be a heart attack, or a panic attack.
Stress is a killer and the whole nation is under stress right now, and that’s a thought I may consider and flesh out later, but for now, let’s whisper up a prayer for his good.
I know, it’s not always easy to pray for someone toward whom you may not have warm feelings, but we are called to it, and a good way to enter into any prayer with humility is through scripture.
“Lord, the one you love is sick…” (John 11:3)
“If you want to, you can heal him…” (Matt 8:2)
“Son of David, have mercy on him…” (Mark 10:47)
In one of those weird synchronicities that happen sometimes, I learned of Holder’s situation right after reading this piece at OSV, which is all about praying for those we don’t particularly like, and whom we might even call “enemies” if we’re inclined to use the word:
I had turned the notion of enemies into the equivalent of a benign spot on a spiritual X-ray: nothing to worry about, no threat to the soul.
That was incorrect. The evidence before my eyes — demonstrated in the dark, tense expression of my co-worker and her brutish tone — hit me like a swift punch to the solar plexus; with breathtaking clarity I understood that to entertain the concept of “having an enemy” was to give it room to grow. No benign practice, this was instead a path to spiritual malignancy — a true cancer that could kill the soul.
Jesus did indeed recognize that there are such things as enemies — and we are not meant to wander through our lives reckless and unaware of that which can threaten us or do us harm, and certainly should not turn a blind eye to evil, which is the true enemy — but his command that we love those we perceive to be our enemies is actually a tool for discernment and for our own salvation. To love our enemies means a great deal more than to simply not wish evil upon them; it means making a conscious effort to find a path to our own mercy, for their sake and our own. That path is found, Jesus tells us, through prayer: “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Mt 5:44).
So, there’s that. You can read it all, here.
A priest I know has said that the best prayer we can offer for anyone, in any circumstance, is for their salvation, because everything follows and flows from that.
There are lots of ways to enter into prayer for persons you think you can’t pray for, and using them is good for one’s own soul.
Remember what Dorothy Day said: ‘I really only love God as much as I love the person I love the least.”