family life and prayer support

From the Prairie Messenger:

Meditator, yoga instructor and missionary Elaine Zakreski is passionate about sharing the peace of Christ with others.

As a student of the Living School, a two-year course of study through Richard Rohr’s centre for Action and Contemplation in New Mexico, Zakreski is embarking on an experiment linking women in Saskatoon to women in Malawi, Africa through meditation and prayer.

via Malawi-Ursuline prayer connection established.

Much about the two Synods on the Family has focused on what the church can do to better support families. By “the church”, we too often refer to the institution – parishes, dioceses, episcopal conferences, and the Vatican. But, what can WE do as individuals and communities?

A community of elder Ursuline Sisters in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan are simply connecting with elder women in Malawi through prayer and meditation. The “Go-Go Grandmothers” of Malawi have taken on the responsibility of raising their orphaned grand-children while struggling with the economic and health challenges of aging. (Note to the Synod fathers: This is family love and commitment in its highest form.)

Can the knowledge that you are being prayed for take away all your problems? Probably not. But, knowing that you are being held in loving prayer can give you the courage to face the daily struggles. Being connected personally, having your name raised to the heavens in union with all the saints, is a generous act of love and support.

In the last year, in the midst of our own family struggles, my own prayer often fell to the wayside. It was at this time that the prayers were lovingly picked up and raised up for me – for us – by my dear friends, the women of the Our Lady of the Round Table online faith community. The act of being remembered in my silent absence was a powerful reminder that we were not travelling this journey alone.

Some like to describe the core of our faith in terms of dogmas and beliefs. We have certainly had an earful of doctrinal pronouncements regarding this synod and family life. What if we changed gears and looked to the power of prayer? Not just liturgical prayer, and worries about who attends mass and who doesn’t, but intentional, personal and communal, prayers of presence, awareness and mutual support?

(Note: Elaine Zakreski and her husband, Peter, do more then pray for the women in Malawi. They are the founders of the Hope for Malawi Foundation Inc. and have travelled extensively to Malawi and helped with various community projects.Awareness leading to prayer leading to action.)

3 thoughts on “family life and prayer support

  1. “Reductio ad absurdum” is not a fair tool of argument but is a good illustrator. The last couple of times I went to Mass at our Parish the “ritual” began with a handout of “prayer cards”. Write your name, we are told. They are collected and redistributed – so that I will “know” who I am praying for, an “encounter”, so to speak? Then an Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be… and a constructed prayer all “illuminated” on the two score-board like flat screen TV teleprompters that seemed to dominate the sanctuary (and continue to do so throughout the liturgy).
    What you are describing Isabella for yourself and the Malawi example, gives me an entirely different sense. It is a sense of community expressed even thought it is extended. The parish example, seems to me, a superficial shell of expression that it more a mockery of content. Negative pedagogy. What is the essential difference? How do, how can we understand and be, how can we teach, exemplify the nature of community, prayer, or compassion?
    The closure of smaller, more intimate community churches and parishes and construction of massive centralized “temples” seems to say that the Church – institution and members – are being abandoned and are abandoning community. There seems to me to be an “intrinsic” contradiction between holy rhetoric and real practice. How can real instances become the real teacher in the new reality?

  2. “How do, how can we understand and be, how can we teach, exemplify the nature of community, prayer, or compassion?” Dennis, if we got to the root of this problem, imagine the changes and reforms we would see in the church and in the world! We should give your parish some points for their attempts to connect those present through a more personal prayer- though I know I wouldn’t feel very comfortable with this approach either.

    Whenever I write about prayer, I worry that it will come across as simple naiveté. The bigger question is, how do we aid and support a true conversion of both mind and heart? How do we (can we?) nudge another soul to a more intimate relationship with God – a relationship that will make prayer come naturally, flowing into a desire to live a more genuine gospel life? Sadly, synods, church documents and pulpit nagging and finger-wagging are seldom the answer.

  3. How? Don’t know, but I do recall my first “crushes”. Maybe because I was shy but my comfort was being with. “Talking to” was more difficult, came later. Prayer seemed to be opposite- growing up, prayer was talking – hardly even, if at all, being in the presence of – God, etc. Is there not a lesson in the admission that you wouldn’t feel very comfortable with this approach? On the other hand, asked/invited to introduce myelf to the person(s) around me and acknowledge their “present” gives me a bit of joy and a further “jolt” to know that it is happening all around the church. That is so much more a “Jesus” moment.
    Pope Francis is a re-start, I think, hope…

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