St. Francis Cabrini wrote this to one of her friends: “Why, dearest daughter, do you waste time in sadness when time is so precious for the salvation of poor sinners? Get rid of your melancholy immediately!” As a priest who does exorcisms said in a recent interview on Women of Grace, “Say a prayer of binding”: for example, with the sign of the cross, say aloud, “Spirit of anxiety, in the name of Jesus I bind you,” or, “Spirit of sadness, in the name of Jesus, I bind you.” With this prayer of faith, one can experience amazing transformation in one’s mind and heart. And as St. Francis de Sales says, when a person perseveres in giving to God all anxiety and sadness, and receives the spirit of liberty which our Father desires to give him, “he hardly ever loses his joy….I do not say that he never loses it, but that he quickly regains it.”
And we must remember the great fact which is the basis of our trust in God the Father: Jesus shows us that the Father wills that we and our loved ones should be well, even to be substantially healed, body and soul, while we walk this earth. We know we will be completely healed in heaven, so that prayers for our loved ones’ well being cannot be fully answered during this short span of our lives here and now. What that powerful willingness on the part of our Lord means is this: all of our prayers of asking which seem to be getting a consistent “No” are, in fact, not a “No,” but rather a “Wait!” The Gospels are literally packed with living examples of Jesus’ actual healings of everyone who called out to Him or merely touched Him in an act of faith: “And wherever He came, in villages, cities or country, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and besought HIm that they might touch even the fringe of His garment; and as many as touched it were made well.” St. Paul, in one of his letters, tells the anxious Christians, “With Jesus, it is always ‘Yes!’…All God’s promises find their ‘Yes’ in Him.” (See 2Corinthians 1:19,20)
It is important to ask our Lord for inner clarity concerning some of those loved ones for whom our prayers are ongoing (and even outstrip St.Monica’s twenty years of prayer for her son, Augustine!) Jesus asked the paralytic who had suffered his condition for thirty-eight years, “Do you want to be well?”(See John 5:2-9) This is an especially important question when it comes to loved ones with addictions or other chronic conditions, or with a longstanding habit of grave sin which slowly destroys body and soul. The Lord did not specify a limit to our praying when He taught that we should never give up.
I end this series about praying for our loved ones with a suggested prayer, one that I pray along with the Our Father, on days when I cannot attend Mass. It is a prayer of St. John Henry Newman, a man who had learned much from the very Heart of Jesus:
O most sacred, most loving Heart of Jesus, You are concealed in the Holy Eucharist and you beat for us still. Now, as then, you say, “With desire I have desired.” I worship you, then, with my best love and awe, with my most fervent affection, with my most subdued, most resolved will.
O make my heart beat with your Heart. Purify it of all that is earthly, all that is proud and sensual, all that is hard and cruel, of all perversity, all disorder, all deadness. So fill it with yourself that neither the events of the day nor the circumstances of the time might have power to ruffle it; but that in your love and your fear it might have peace.”
Pray for us, John Henry Newman, St. Monica, St. Francis de Sales, Elisabeth Leseur, and our dear Blessed Mother Mary. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
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My next blog post will begin a series of excerpts from inspiring passages which I have treasured from the writings of the Saints, old and new.