Prayer and penance are naturally on the minds of Christians right now, with Lent around the corner. God has been keeping them both on my heart ever since November. There is real cause for concern in our country, given the fact that our society is no longer sliding down a slippery slope but rushing toward a precipice.
Our religious liberty is being threatened in several ways, and the attack on the foundation of any society—the family—is unrelenting and showing signs of victory.
Only a miracle can save us.
Alone we can not hope to change this; only with God's help can disaster be averted. And to bring down His grace and aid we must pray—and pray fervently. But even prayer is not enough. Jesus Himself warned us that some evils cannot be removed without fasting too.
As a Catholic who came of age during the heyday of Medjugorje, I cannot help thinking these days about the warnings of chastisements and wondering if they are coming to fruition. Even if Medjugorje is/was not a true heavenly visitation, the heart of the message is the the same as that of Fatima and Lourdes and echoes the Gospel: pray and make sacrifices for the conversion of souls.
For months, I've been feeling like the Holy Spirit is calling me to step up the prayers, step up the fasting, and to encourage my family and others to do the same.
Imagine my delight then to find that the Holy Spirit has inspired the U.S. Catholic* bishops with the exact same message. ("Confirmation!" my charismatic past calls out.)
They have a five-point strategy for seeking God's help in changing the direction of folly our culture is currently following:
- Host or attend a Eucharistic Holy Hour on the last Sunday of each month.
- Pray the Rosary every day.
- Abstain from meat and fast on Fridays [not just during Lent].
- Pray specific Prayers of the Faithful at daily and Sunday Masses.
- Participate in the second Fortnight for Freedom in June/July 2013.
The bishops have done us a great service in calling us to prayer and penance and giving us the means to join together in these efforts. Their plan, however, has not received enough publicity. Help spread the word! Here are some ideas:
- Join the Facebook event and share it on your page: Call to Prayer Facebook Page.
- Print out the flyer found on Call to Prayer flyer and ask your pastor to include it in the church bulletin.
- Join with others from your parish, prayer group or school and ask your pastor about hosting a holy hour. Make sure to volunteer to help!
- Host an information meeting at your parish, home, or school about the five-point plan.
- Start a Rosary group.
- Print out the Prayers of the Faithful and ask your pastor to consider using them at Mass.
- Encourage others to fast and pray.
- Of course, fast and pray yourself!
You can certainly do numbers 6 and 7 as well as host prayer meetings, etc. You could also use the prayers found at Prayers of the Faithful for Life, Liberty, & Marriage as a springboard for writing your own prayers. I'm sure you can think of other ways to participate in this same call to prayer and action from the Holy Spirit.
May all the people of God join together in praying for His protection for these precious gifts from God that are threatened in so many ways and for His intervention in healing the blindness of our fellow countrymen and changing their hearts so that all may love and follow His beautiful Way. The best Way, the only Way, to happiness, to human fulfillment, to eternal life.