MEDITATION OF THE DAY
The Worth of Every One
Like so many people, I pray constantly throughout the day: for my husband and children, and extended family of course, and for friends and even acquaintances who share a particular need or sorrow with me. A traumatic car accident at age seventeen made such an impression upon me, that I pause to pray every time I hear a siren or see a tow truck with flashing lights…. First thing in the morning as I’m rising, I petition God and several of my favorite saints to help direct my work that day, to do God’s will and the good of others. At night I ask God to let my mind rest, and to remember that he is the Lord of all—and I am not.
It might all seem somewhat scattered. On deeper reflection, though, there is a unity to my eclectic prayer life. It is this: always, my prayers arise out of a prior effort to think of reality in God’s larger and longer terms. I try to situate myself, and all those for whom I’m praying, in God’s creation and God’s realm, and then to petition, praise, and thank God, against a deeper reflection about what’s true, what’s important, what’s real, as considered from that perspective…. I try to grasp God’s perspective on the time-limited, local affairs about which I’m praying, and then to offer my praise, petition, and thanksgiving. Now that I’m getting old enough to actually get a glimpse of that “arc of history” everybody is always talking about, I am getting better at thinking broadly and about the long run.
An observer might conclude that, within this large perspective, I would bring very little to God in prayer. How could little things matter in such a big universe? But the observer would be wrong. When I am praying about even one person the matter is instantly cosmic! There is a Spanish phrase that explains my thinking here: cada persona es un mundo (each person is a world). I feel perfectly assured that God cares a great deal about the health, happiness, self-worth, suffering, etc., of every single person…. Pope Benedict XVI put it so gorgeously in Deus Caritas Est when he instructed us to give every single person that “look of love which they crave.”… At one of his weekly audiences in Saint Peter’s Square, Pope Francis heard a man shout to him, “You are one of a kind!” In the instant, the Pope stopped what he was doing to look back at the man and shout with equal warmth, “But you are one of a kind too!” No matter how long is history and how wide God’s powers, I am confident that he still regards with favor my prayers holding up particular individuals.
Helen Alvaré is a law professor at Antonin Scalia Law School, and writes scholarship and assists the Church on matters concerning the family and religious freedom. [From That Nothing May Be Lost: Reflections on Catholic Doctrine and Devotion, by Rev. Paul Scalia. © 2017, Ignatius Press, San Francisco, CA. www.ignatius.com. Used with permission.]