Praying for others is a beautiful expression of faith

May you be strong in Courage and Confidence. May you be Wise in choices and decisions. May you be caring of all relationships and compassionate to those in need. May you meet life’s adventures with a clear mind and a bold heart. May your integrity be a gift to the world, and May the Spirit of God be with you always.

It’s hard to imagine that anyone praying the above words would not want a deepening of the qualities and virtues mentioned therein — courage, confidence, wisdom, care for others, compassion, clarity of thought, boldness, integrity and an abiding sense of God’s loving presence. Please Lord, give me several pounds of each!

The first time I ever prayed this prayer for others was with 65 inmates at liturgy at the Monroe County Jail the evening of Aug. 5. We offered the prayer for two of the men who would not be at next week’s liturgy because they are being released. One could not miss the sincerity with which their brothers and sisters said the prayer or how much it meant to those soon to be freed.

I have taken up the prayer a few times since that occasion, asking God to lavish blessings on those two men in their very sensitive and challenging transition from incarceration to a fruitful life in society. I have asked God to bless them in all of the ways mentioned in the prayer. At the same time, I prayed that the communities to which they return, especially our parishes, will be ready to welcome them and support them through it all.

May I ask you please to pray for those two men and for other women and men who anticipate release from jail or prison in the days ahead — and for the people who will be walking with them through their re-entry process.

I would invite you, if this blessing prayer appeals to you, to offer it for people who are a part of your life and in whom you sense a desire for a deepening in themselves of the virtues and qualities mentioned in the prayer. You may think of a young person who is struggling to find her or his path in life. Or a couple wondering whether to leave their family home for a smaller residence. Or an individual or family facing some very hard choices because of economic conditions.

To bless others with our prayer for them is a beautiful and appropriate expression of our faith, and an avenue to our own spiritual growth. Such prayer opens our heart to trust in God. It helps us to move beyond ourselves in concern for others. It stimulates our gratitude for God’s gifts in our lives; and it reminds us in healthy ways that we need the blessing of our neighbors’ prayers for us no less than they need the blessing of ours.

Be assured of my prayers for your health and well-being. I ask for your prayers as well.

Peace to all.

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