Tuesday, October 31, 2006

pray for us sinners NOW

We say the Hail Mary so often, and the "hour of our death" can seem very far away. Until just now, I assumed that the "hour" meant just that: the clock-time at which life comes to a close. As if we were asking Mary to show up just on time. But in the Gospel of John, the "hour" of Jesus isn't a moment in time: it is the crucial (literally: crucial as in "cross") period of his life. When Jesus' "hour" opens, he prays, "Give glory to the Son, that the Son may glorify you."
Last night, I realized that Dad is facing a crucial temptation. It is the temptation to short-cut the "hour" by giving up before the time has come. This is why we need to pray for people who are seriously sick, and why the Church insists that the Sacrament of the Sick be given as soon as a person begins to be in danger of death, even though death is not right around the corner. The whole period of sickness is the "hour of our death," and we need God's presence and grace throughout it.
I had already left the hospital and was having some leftovers with my sister when Mom called to tell us of Dad's spiritual turn for the worse. So I left to pray at the Adoration Chapel, and that is where I realized that this is a moment of spiritual warfare, time to enlist the "big guns," and to pray almost in a mode of exorcism. I gave Mom instructions on praying a special chaplet: on the Hail Mary beads of the Rosary, pray "Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil." And on the Our Father beads, pray "Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death." Call it a deliverance chaplet! This morning I prayed a different one, with a view to asking the grace to seek and rejoice in the Glory of God: "You alone are Holy; You alone are the Lord; You alone are the Most High" on the Hail Mary beads, and "O Lord, how great are your works; how deep are your designs" on the Our Father beads.

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