Power of the Perfect Prayer

Power of the Perfect Prayer January 4, 2010

Another thought about Marcella Dubuque, who was last Christmas preparing for imminent death, and whose story I linked to this morning.

“The acceptance was so total that there were no regrets, just gratitude for the life, for the family. Realizing how lucky I was,” she says.

Over the course of a week, more than 100 people came to see her in what has been described as a living wake. They exchanged old stories and brought her rosary beads, prayer cards, holy oil, even blessed salt. Lella assured anyone who asked about her illness that she was “looking forward to the journey” and to being with her relatives in Heaven.

Judique’s parish priest, Father Allan MacMillan, performed what was once known as the Last Rites, but is now more optimistically called the Sacrament of the Sick. Afterward, the family gathered on the veranda with a bottle of wine and Lella asked Fr. Allan, a Gaelic singer, for a song.

A while back I wrote:

Obedience, for all it is decried, is in fact, the Royal Highway by which His Majesty speeds along his love, and his glory. It is the Autobahn of the Spirit.

It strikes me that this lady took on was the scary cloak of “obedience,” fitted to perfection by the twin tailors of “trusth” and “thanksgiving,” and worn with a panache of great love. In preparing to die, Dubuque was obeying what she believed to be God’s will for her, and she made her preparations with a heart full of thankfulness. Over all of that she – as St. Paul taught – “put on love;” she opened herself to the world and everyone in it.

Perfect prayer is prayer that surrenders, gives thanks and reaches out in love – it is, in the end, suffused with real joy, joy that radiates outward. That’s how we’re supposed to do it, but so few of us have ever managed to pull it off.

But look what power there is, in the perfect prayer.

And if you really think her perfect prayer through, step-by-step, it began with obedience, which is part-and-parcel with childlike trust.

Perhaps God’s will for Marcella Dubuque was not that she die, but that she learn the means, and the power, of perfect prayer.

How humbling. I have so much to learn.

I will tell you what is my own great help. I once read or heard that an interior life means but the continuation of our Savior’s life in us; that the great object of all his mysteries is to merit for us the grace of his interior life and communicate it to us, it being the end of his mission to lead us into the sweet land of promise, a life of constant union with himself. And what was the first rule of our dear Savior’s life? You know it was to do his Father’s will. Well, then, the first end I propose in our daily work is to do the will of God; secondly, to do it in the manner he wills; and thirdly, to do it because it is his will.
— St. Elizabeth Ann Seton* (Source)

*First American-born Catholic Saint. Her feastday is today and this is from a conference given to her spiritual daughters, included in today’s Office of Readings, in the Liturgy of the Hours.

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