I have heard from social justice types that a good thing to do is pray with the news or with your newspaper. With all that is going on in the world, I would say it is needed!
Here is a simplified version that you might want to try:
- First you read a news story and notice your initial reaction with all of its emotions, judgments and certainty. Offer that to God and ask that God help you see it through the eyes of Jesus.
- Identify who in the story you feel drawn to and who you feel a resistance toward? Identify who, in your mind, is the “us” and who is not in that circle.
- The fruit of the Spirit is love, peace, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. Is there anything arising in you that is not of God, such as self-righteousness, hatred, arrogance or ugliness?
- Define how you can move toward building the kingdom of God in your own heart and life? How can you seek to understand another’s perspective? How can you move toward love of neighbor?
- Pray for the grace to act.
Doesn’t this seem to be a great form of prayer for the Year of Mercy?
As I write this, news of the 14-year-old boy in North Carolina who shot his father and then took the gun to school comes to mind. This story would be a good one to pray with.
It could be very easy for me, as a mother, to pass judgment on his parents or even the ones who may have allowed the bullying he experienced to go on. But what if I let that go and imagine how Jesus sees the situation? How will my perspective change? Certainly some mistakes were made, but would that be uppermost in Jesus’ mind? I doubt it. When we look at the life of Jesus we see that he loved the sinner and was with those who were marginalized. How can I move toward that kind of love?
Another story that might be good to pray with is the violence that happened at the Crossroads Mall. I invite you to take that story and follow the method of prayer above and see how you are moved. In Bishop Donald Kettler’s statement after the tragedy, we see that he has given us a lesson in praying with the news.
His reflection begins with the words of Pope Francis when he was in the United States speaking about the Golden Rule. The bishop states that his shock and sadness led him to prayer for the victims, their families, the first responders and “our Somali-Muslim brothers and sisters.” It also led him to act by writing the statement and asking us to “get to know better some of our Somali-Muslim brothers and sisters,” and, if we have questions, to “make sure to speak to others with respect, civility and Christian charity.”
Praying with the news can be challenging, but can be freeing as well. In this Year of Mercy it can be a great way to grow in love for our neighbor and our Catholic faith.
Kathy Langer is director of social concerns for Catholic Charities of the Diocese of St. Cloud.