Skip to main content

Prayer First, Action Second

There is a common misconception today in Catholic and Christian circles that prayer is secondary, to taking direct action in helping the poor. But nothing could be further from the truth. Having a fervent prayer life ultimately does more for the good of the poor than just feeding them.

Jesus even supports this notion when he derides a crowd for criticizing a woman who washes his feet with costly oil. Their argument was understandable. They argued that the money used to spend for the costly ointment could have been used instead to help the poor. Jesus' answer is surprising and curt as he says "For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you will, you can do good to them; but you will not always have me." (Mk 14:7)  Jesus was giving them the foundation of how to approach true charity. 

I have witnessed this dynamic approach with a religious order called The Franciscan Friars of The Renewal.  These monks and priests spend their entire life helping the poorest of the poor throughout the world. Interestingly though they spend hours of intense prayer each day. St. Vincent de Paul and St. Teresa of Calcutta, both great champions of the poor both did the same; they combined their charitable works with intense prayer. 

Charity without prayer is incomplete. Charity no matter how noble in it's intentions, without prayer mirrors Marxism and other utilitarian, atheistic philosophies which seek to end poverty through strictly materialistic means.  Many social justice advocates I believe have unwittingly fallen into this trap. I am not calling all social justice advocates Marxist or atheists. What I am saying instead is that it is more important to lead the poor to Christ than to merely feed them. True charity places its focus on Christ rather than on class warfare and Utopian, godless experiments.

Lastly I want to challenge the misconception that prayer is inactive. Some people go even so far as to say that spending time in extensive prayer is selfish in nature. But nothing could be further from the truth. Prayer is very active and selfless, because it nourishes those involved in helping the poor and in turn gives the poor a hopeful, supernatural meaning to their sufferings. Spending time in prayer brings peace and through this peace one's work will be more fruitful since the aim of true charity is transcendent not just materialistic.


Popular posts from this blog

10 Great Quotes from The Book of Sirach

The book of Sirach is a book that is often overlooked in the bible. This is unfortunate since this book contains many wise, practical saying on how to live a virtous life. The book was believed to have been written between 200-175 B.C.E.

Here are ten quotes that I feel best reflect this timeless work.

1."Do not become a beggar by feasting with\borrowed money, when you have nothing in your purse." Sirach 18:33

2."In all you do remember the end of your life, and then you will never sin." 7:36

3.."Glory and dishonor come from speaking; a man's tongue is his downfall." 5:13"

4."A wise man is cautious in everything." 18:27

5."One who trusts others is light minded." 19:4

6."If you pursue justice, you will obtain it and wear it as a glorious robe." 27:8

7."Many have fallen by the edge of the sword, but no many as have fallen because of the tongue." 28:18

8." In all of your work be industrious and no sickness will…

George Michael, Carrie Fisher, and The Afterlife

I was stunned, as was most of the world was when I heard about the passing of George Michael on Christmas day.  Michael possessed enormous talent was and one of the most successful acts in the 1980's and early 90's

Shortly after Carrie Fisher died.  Fisher was famous for her legendary role as princess Leia from the Star Wars movies.  Strangely her mother also died the day after.

2016 was a notable year for celebrity deaths.

Some names include Prince, Glenn Frey, David Bowie,  Doris Roberts, Alan Rickman, and Muhammad Ali.

As a Catholic these deaths got me thinking about the transient nature of life and the inevitability of death.

Marcus Aurelius, the stoic, emperor, philosopher king wrote about the passing nature of life as he reflected, "Time is a sort of river of passing events, and strong is its current; no sooner is a thing brought to sight than it is swept by and another takes its place, and this too will be swept away."

Even though I agree mostly with Aurelius&…

Me vs. The Almighty

There is a famous scene in the Bible where Jacob wrestles with God.  Jacob fights with God until God takes out a bone from Jacob's thigh. Interestingly, God eventually relents and stops fighting with Jacob. After this dramatic incident, Jacob is renamed Israel which literally means, "he who struggles with God."

I can relate to this story.  Many times in my life I have argued with God. I still do. (my wife can attest to that.) Many times I have criticized his tactics, his ways, and his wisdom. In my worst moments, I have even used choice language. I have a complicated relationship with God. Like Jacob, I have wrestled with God. (thigh bone still intact)

Recently I approached a priest friend of mine and told him of my struggles with God.  I expected that he would chide me for my lack of respect and informality. What this priest said was illuminating and encouraging. He told me that it was OK at times to be angry with God, God understood. He, in fact, encouraged this honest…