“Keep me in your prayers.” Those are words my mom used all the time, especially as she got older, at the end of one of our visits, or in the cards and notes she sent to me. In fact, they are the final words I heard my mom speak when I visited her in the hospital the night before she died. “Keep me in your prayers,” she said, as I kissed her forehead and prepared to leave.
I’m not sure why those words became such a regular part of my mom’s conversation. Was it because she realized that she was growing weaker and more frail and needed God’s help? Or because she wanted to be remembered to God as she was preparing to meet him? Or because it was a way to feel close to me, her priest son, even though we were separated by geographical distance? Perhaps all of the above.
Asking for someone’s prayers, or praying for someone else, is a beautiful and Catholic thing to do. But it’s an instinct that transcends our Catholic Faith.
Many people ask for prayers and pray for others during times of natural disasters, public emergencies, and personal needs. I was surprised but pleased to see recently, in the Providence Journal, the headline of an editorial that was penned when baseball legend, Big Papi, was shot and seriously wounded in the Dominican Republic. “Prayers for David Ortiz” the editorial requested. A very heartfelt and appropriate appeal, from a thoroughly secular newspaper, not known for its religious devotion.
Praying with or for someone else accomplishes several things. It reminds us of the presence and power of God in our lives, something we tend to forget when things are going well. It connects us to another person in need, affirming the solidarity of the human family. And it sharpens our sensitivity to the suffering and needs of others, giving us a way to respond when, perhaps, other options are not available.
I can’t declare it infallibly, of course, but I’m pretty sure that by now my mom is with God our Father in heaven, surrounded by all the angels and saints. So, let me take this moment and this public venue to say to her, “Mom, keep me in your prayers.”
Something to think about: Has there been some specific time in your life when you needed and benefited from the prayers of others?