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ARE WE TURNING TO GOD ONLY WHEN WE NEED SOMETHING?

A BREATH-TAKING QUESTION

“‘What wouldst thou have me do for thee?’ This is the question which Jesus put to the blind man who besought mercy of our Lord as He passed by on His way to Jerusalem. It was a breath-taking question. It was a blank check on the infinite power of God. ‘Anything you want you may have,’ Jesus is saying. ‘What is your choice?’

The blind man had his answer ready. He was obsessed by a single consuming desire – to be able to gaze upon the world about him. ‘Lord, that I may see!’ he begged. Instantly his prayer was granted. ‘Receive thy sight,’ Jesus replied, ‘thy faith has saved thee.’

‘THY FAITH HAS SAVED THEE’

If Jesus suddenly were to appear before us with a similar question, ‘What do you want Me to do for you?’ what would our answer be? Better health? Success on the job? Money to pay off the bills? Solution of a personal or family problem?

It is to be hoped that we would have the discernment to pass over all such lesser needs and to ask for the gift which surpasses all others in importance: the grace of final perseverance, the grace of a happy death. ‘Lord, that I may love You, and love You to the end!’ This surely would be our answer if we had but one opportunity to draw upon God’s bounty.

Fortunately we are not limited to one opportunity. Jesus does not appear visibly before us, but His ears are permanently attuned to us. His invitation is never withdrawn, His benevolence is never exhausted. ‘What wouldst thou have me do for thee?’

JESUS’ INVITATION IS NEVER WITHDRAWN

God knows our wants, of course, even better than we know them ourselves. It would seem that in temporal matters the more perfect prayer of petition would be simply, ‘Give me whatever You know to be best for me, Lord; whatever is most in accord with Your will.’

Still, it pleases God to have us turn to Him in our particular needs. In every prayer of petition there is an implied act of adoration. By our requests we acknowledge God’s infinite goodness and power. We would not be turning to Him if we did not believe He cares for us and that He can help us.

GOD’S INFINITE WISDOM

If our entreaty is to be effective, however, it must also include an acknowledgement of God’s infinite wisdom. We must concede that, in the end, only God knows what is best for us and for those whose lives are intertwined with ours. His must be the final decision as to whether another grace must be substituted instead.

DIFFERENT TYPES OF PRAYER: THE HIERARCHY OF IMPORTANCE

As we well know, petitions are the least essential of our prayers. In the hierarchy of importance, prayers of adoration are at the top of the list. These are the prayers in which we salute God’s infinite greatness and holiness. We concede our own nothingness apart from Him. We assure Him of our faith in Him, our trust in Him and, above all, of our love for Him.

Next come prayers of thanksgiving for the love and the care which God has lavished upon us. Adoration and gratitude then naturally lead to prayers of contrition, as we grieve for our pettiness and our disobedience to a God so holy and good.

It is only after these three steps that we are prepared for prayer of petition. This does not mean that every time we give ourselves to prayer we must mechanically tick off praise, thanksgiving and contrition before daring to ask God for anything. It means only that we must maintain a sense of proportion in our prayers and not think that when we have asked for our daily bread, we can let the rest of the Lord’s prayer go by the board.

PRAYERS PLEASING TO GOD

In our petitions, too, there is a gradation of importance. Unselfish prayers, prayers offered for the needs of other persons, are especially pleasing to God. In praying for ourselves, it is our spiritual petitions which God most welcomes. When we plead, ‘Please, God, help me to keep from sin.’ ‘Please, God, help me to do Your will always,’ or ‘Please, God, help me to grow in love for You,’ there is no need to add the condition, ‘If it be Thy will’. In such petitions, we KNOW that our will is at one with God’s. Offered with sincerity and perseverance, these requests infallibly will be granted.”
– Fr Leo J. Trese, 1966

 

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“ONE OF THE PRISONERS HE’S CURRENTLY WORKING TO SAVE IS A CATHOLIC BRITISH GRANDMOTHER BORN IN ST KITTS”

THIS IS AN EXCERPT OF AN ARTICLE PUBLISHED IN “FAITH TODAY” MARCH 2013 (DETAILS BELOW). COULD YOU PLEASE HAVE A READ AND SEE IF YOU COULD SUPPORT THE PETITION. THANK YOU. ♥

Clive Stafford Smith intercedes for prisoners on death row, including the Catholic British grandmother Linda Carty, whose campaign Faith Today supports. Joanna Moorhead went to meet him to talk about Linda’s case, and the wider issues around capital punishment.

The question everyone always asks him, says Clive Stafford Smith, is what his arguments are against the death penalty. But, he says, he bats the question right back to them. “To me, the biggest question is what’s in favour of it?” he says. “It makes me think of Wilfrid Owen’s poem “Futility”. Its just all so futile. Because what I see is this healthy person I’ve come to know, and the government that wants to take them out and kill them in a ritualistic way. It makes me wonder how they differentiate themselves from people who burned witches at the stake.” …

One of the prisoners he’s currently working to save is the Catholic British grandmother Linda Carty, whom I visited on death row in Texas for Faith Today last year. Linda was convicted of murder in 2002 – a murder she has always maintained she didn’t commit. And when you sift through the story, and weigh claim against counter claim, it’s hard not to conclude that Linda’s explanation about what happened is a lot more believable than the prosecution case. Linda was a single parent working as a drugs informant to raise extra money for her child; she says she was stitched up after some drugs dealers she was marking killed a young mother.

Unsurprisingly, Stafford Smith entirely agrees: the whole of Linda’s case, he says, was mismanaged by her original defence team. As a British citizen by virtue of having been born and raised in St Kitts, then a UK colony, she was entitled to help from the British consulate, who would have found her a good lawyer – but that never happened.

She is now supported by the UK consulate in Houston, but as the appeals process has been exhausted, she can only be saved by a reprieve from the Texan governor. “Unfortunately he’s not known for his merciful attitude,” says Stafford Smith. “And the courts there are fairly hostile to justice – and this is certainly a case of phenomenal injustice.”

Linda is now awaiting an execution date and Clive, who has visited her many times over the years, says her situation is “dire”. The campaign to save her, she says, must be stepped up – it’s possible that intervention at a high level, in Britain and in the Vatican, could save her life.

The Catholic Church, he says, has “an increasingly sensible” attitude to capital punishment at an institutional level – its latest position is that execution is rarely, if ever, defensible, and prelates have often stepped up to the plate at the crucial moment to intervene in individual cases. “In the case of Edward Earl Johnson the state governor was a Catholic, and I wanted the Catholic church to be clear about the fact that execution is wrong. So I phoned the Papal legate and I was really impressed – he called me back right away, and within 48 hours the Vatican had called the governor.”

Despite the fact that he’s still battling to save prisoners on death row across the world, and despite the fact that countries like China and Iran regularly execute prisoners, Stafford Smith says he’s convinced that the war against the death penalty will be a successful one, and that big strides forward will be made in his lifetime (he’s in his early 50s).

The landscape is changing, he says, especially in the US. “Governments need people to hate, and ten or 15 years ago the people who were hated in the US were black people on death row. But that’s not the case now – there are other people to hate now, extremists and people in other countries. So in a bizarre way that’s helping to change attitudes to the death penalty.”

Meanwhile China, he says, has said it expects to abolish the death penalty at some point. “And more than half of the countries in the world don’t have it, so we’re obviously moving in the right direction. But that’s a small solace to someone like Linda Carty. Because the point is, how many of these human sacrifices must there be before the human race
comes to its senses, and realises that we can’t go on acting this way?”

[There are over 10,000 names on the petition, but more are needed. Please visit the online petition: http://www.alivepublishing.co.uk/save-linda-carty (external link) or text “LINDA” to 80011 at your standard network rate to register your support (if you live in the United Kingdom).]

 
 

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