I have been off the grid for a couple months, spending my online capital on hawking my new books. Thanks everyone for your support, and I look forward to your opinion of the work. Many awesome organizations have benefitted from your purchase of BED BUG STEW.
I must remind everyone that it is nearly 4 months since the attack in Israel, and that over 130 hostages are either dead or living in hellish conditions… among them nearly two dozen US citizens.
Destroy Hamas. No yield, no quarter. This is an unusual start to a blog/podcast on my fourth track on “Faith,” but there you have it. Now to today’s topic…
There was a Wall Street Journal article a few weeks ago in its weekend edition about a woman who pledged $2 million to a northeast college that, well, an institution that could use the money. The woman had an online presence, a professional one, and she and her assistant were in frequent contact with the university, even to the extent of organizing a gala to announce the donation, and she made out the guest list, an agenda, and selected a menu, all to be held at a venue chosen by the benefactor.
You can guess how this ends. Two days before the event, after great expense and promises, the donation check bounces (and not for the first time). There were no funds. There never were. The woman existed, but had, over the arc of decades, descended into madness, homelessness, and hopelessness. She had one set of clothes, one pair of shoes, and lived hand to mouth for years.
She met people for lunch and such wearing the same clothes, hair matted, and excused herself as “having come from the gym,” or “working at the shelter,” and the like. Not until after her public exposure had anyone noticed anything untoward – except that she never had any money.
Sad. Unusual. Her promises were hollow, and it can be said that there was no real harm done, except to an institution that wanted to believe the riches were real.
I want to compare this person to the person who says, reflexively, “I will pray for you.”
If I have said that once I have said it a million times. Many times, most times, I never followed up. Why? I just didn’t have it to give; you know, the sincerity.
Most of my life I didn’t have a lot of sincerity to give, though I like to think I have much more now. How long does it take to say a prayer? I have been schooled to pray for others… I can pray for myself but only for fortitude or patience or courage, not a winning lottery ticket. A prayer for someone’s health or good judgment or safety or just when thinking about that person -- fondly, or in small disappointment, maybe even anger.
Perhaps we promised a prayer for a friend, for his or her intentions. I like to think I am getting better at it, following up on prayer. One Hail Mary.
Recently my wife and I went on a Catholic pilgrimage to Mexico City, to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadeloupe. A lot was packed into 4 full days with plenty of time for mass, prayer, and reflection. It was not life-changing for me, but it was certainly life-affirming.
A dear friend, a Vietnam vet and retired FBI, asked us to pray for his three intentions, sadly all health related. We lit candles and prayed hard for these loved ones of our friend, and worried and asked God and Our Lady to look after them, to bring them peace… and also our own bushel of family petitions.
For our friend’s three intentions, one person we prayed for is recovering well, better than expectations. One person passed away a few days ago after years of cancer suffering with both the disease, its hit or miss cures, and its inevitability.
No doubt that person is in heaven now. Sometimes prayers are like that – closing a window on suffering and opening the doors to heaven.
The poor soul who made the phony donation, who strove for recognition through a compelling need for the admiration of an elite to herself, a sad hopelessness. She knew not what she was doing, for the most part.
But if I say I’m gonna pray for someone, you can bet your last buck I’m gonna do it.
It is perfectly sane to pray for miracles or for people you don’t know who suffer and sacrifice or for the innocence of children or the camaraderie of friends and family and the comity of nations.
I do not have millions to donate in a hollow gesture of generosity.
But I can give what I have in abundance. One Hail Mary.
Our Lady of Guadeloupe, pray for us.
Rat Chazak Amats.