The most recent mass shooting has us all thinking and praying again. But last night’s reaction was different: there was an outburst of outrage at those who offer “thoughts and prayers” without promising any sort of action to prevent violence in the future.
I have read that this was an “attack on prayer“, that criticizing those who offer prayer is fundamentally anti-religious, but I disagree with that reading of the reaction. I saw people frustrated with using well-wishes as a replacement for the work needed to transform our society.
This morning I remembered this quote: Work as if it all depends on you, pray as if it all depends on God. I wish I could take credit for it. There are conflicting reports of to whom it should be attributed, some say Augustine, some Ignatius Loyola, and it can be found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (attributed to Iggy).
Regardless, it captures the “both/and” mentality that many people of faith value. We can do both at the same time: we can pray intensely but also work intensely, and perhaps both are equally needed.
What are your thoughts (and prayers) on thoughts and prayers?
Yes, both/and. This is what I wrote after the shootings in Charleston:
On the murders in Charleston
If you only have something nice to say,
Now is not the time for niceties,
For crying, “Peace, peace”
When there is no peace.
If you have a voice
If you have a soul
If you have a prayer, fine.
Say it softly to yourself.
But if you want God to hear you
If you want to pray for peace
Rend your garments
Fall to the ground
And stay there until God answers you.
And then get up and do the work.
Margaret Felice says
LOVE. Thank you for sharing this!
Fran Rossi Szpylczyn says
This morning my eyes happen to randomly come across the words of James 1:22, about being not only hearers of the word, but doers as well. I’ve been staying with that, in fact I just posted about it along with an article about prayer-shaming.
I’m posting your blog next. Thanks for your voice.
“…he will say to those at his left hand, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see thee hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to thee?’ 45 Then he will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.’ 46* And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
“If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. ”
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