September 18, 2023
by Susan Naatz
Creighton University's Ignatian Formation and Ministry for Faculty and Staff
click here for photo and information about the writer

Monday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 443

1 Timothy 2:1-8
Psalm 28:2, 7, 8-9
Luke 7:1-10

Praying Ordinary Time

An Invitation to Make the Online Retreat

Praying in Times of Crisis

I will pray for you are beautiful words we say to comfort someone. Today, St. Paul’s letter to Timothy shines a light on the power of prayer while the responsorial psalm reassures us that God, who…is our strength and our shield…has heard (our) prayer.

These readings brought back powerful memories of how I was upheld and carried by prayer through a cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatment, many years ago. Prayers offered by family, friends, colleagues, and people I barely knew surrounded my struggling spirit.

At the time of my diagnosis our children were young and so was I. There had been no history of breast cancer in my family of origin. For many days and weeks, I was overwhelmed and unprepared for what I had to face. As the time approached for an extensive surgery followed by chemotherapy, I struggled to keep away the desolation that kept knocking at my heart. I worried that I would be leaving my husband with three children to raise, and every day I grieved about how I would ever be able to say goodbye to them.

At that time, I worked at a Catholic parish as the Director of Religious Education. A few days before my surgery, some of my ministry colleagues approached me and asked what time my surgery was scheduled. They explained that they wanted to have a prayer vigil during my surgery with prayer, quiet music, and candles. They wanted to be in solidarity with me. Their loving kindness brought on a sea of tears.

Paul writes to Timothy, Beloved: First of all, I ask that supplications, prayers, petitions, and thanksgivings be offered for everyone…that we may lead a quiet and tranquil life…This is good and pleasing to God our savior, who wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth.

The day of my surgery, I felt the familiar rise of intense fear and anxiety. I closed my eyes, took long, careful breaths and pictured my colleagues gathered in the soft glow of candlelight seated in a circle. I imagined myself praying alongside them and felt both their prayerful love and God’s compassion encircling me. I felt deep comfort and consolation. That moving meditation soothed my heavy heart and calmed my mind. I will never forget the peace that flooded through me. When the healthcare team began to prepare me for surgery, I was ready. I recovered from both the surgery and several months of chemotherapy and to this day, I remain in remission. My gratitude for the prayer I received has never ceased.

Since my own experience of prayerful solidarity, I have offered to do the same for others. I explain that I will be prayerfully with them as they go into surgery, face a family or personal crisis, deal with the death of a loved one or are diagnosed with a serious illness. Many have shared that it brings them great peace and they promise to do the same for others.

Let’s keep saying those precious words, I will pray for you, because God …who is our strength and our shield… is listening.

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