A Christmas List
Fear less, hope more;
Eat less, chew more;
Whine less, breathe more;
Talk less, say more;
Hate less, love more;
And all good things will be yours.
Every year for New Year’s Eve will typically find us with friends. We’ll eat a progressive dinner, some years with a course served at a different home, and ring in the new year with a rosary. We pray in thanksgiving for the year just ended, and in anticipation of the year to come. This year it was important to my family that we celebrate quietly. Just us. We watched The Princess Bride and ate snacks in the family room in pajamas and blankets. Our youngest then wanted to be tucked in, oblivious to what was to happen a few hours later at midnight. An hour or so later our middle child did the same. Eventually it was just me and our oldest son watching a Twilight Zone marathon and playing Words With Friends. He schooled me twice. Around 1am I went upstairs to bed and prayed a very late, and year-end, Evening Prayer. I perused the Kindle Store for a few minutes and discovered that many of the writings of Henry Van Dyke are available for free. I downloaded eight or so and read one of his stories on the subject of Peace as I thought it appropriate. And then I finally fell asleep.
I was going to write about peace today, but have decided instead to write about something I need more of in 2012: Humility. Not just humility at the hands of my high school sophomore at Words With Friends, but in all things. Perhaps the most humbling thing I know of that exists is prayer. Not just sending good vibes, or warm thoughts, or whatever other benign expressions of concern we too frequently say to one another. No, what I’m talking about is honest-to-goodness-at-times-on-my-knees prayer.
I’m not sure why or when those other expressions came into vogue, but likely they did in our modern efforts to not be offensive. I get that. But for me personally, if you’re telling me about a problem or issue in your life that you are seeking relief from or help with, know that you won’t be getting good vibes from my direction. Instead I will be keeping you in my prayers and thoughts. This does not mean that I reject your beliefs. I’m just asking that you not ask me to reject or withhold my own in the name of political correctness or relativism.
I’ve been humbled many times, but there are a few that truly stand out. Getting lit up like a Christmas tree by the opposing team’s batters while pitching in college now and then. Graduation. My wedding. The births of my children. Serving at Holy Mass. But two continuous means involve prayer.
Being prayed for: While visiting the chapel of the cloistered Holy Spirit Adoration Sisters (affectionately known as the Pink Sisters) in Lincoln a few years ago my friend and I needed to stop by their offices. The tiny Mother Superior met us (she’s the only one who has contact with the outside world) to discuss something I’ve long since forgotten. But when she heard my name when we were introduced she looked right at me and told me (to my surprise) she knew me. Others had mentioned me in the intentions that can be written down on cards and dropped in their prayer box at the chapel. She assured me they were praying for me and told me to be assured that they would continue. Let me tell you that to have the head of an order of cloistered nuns whose sole activity each day is prayer tell you they are praying for you is extremely powerful and humbling.
Praying for others: Getting on your knees is a humbling position. It indicates submission, putting aside our pride, and being open to a will other than our own. Being on one’s knees and asking for prayers for ourselves is one way. The other is to do so for others. Almost every day I am recipient to a list of prayer intentions sent to us through our local Knights of Columbus chapter. It was with this list that I closed off my evening and began 2012 early this morning. During December we received around 3-6 per email about every other day and I’m listing a portion of them below. As you can see they are varied in their urgency. Every one of them is asked in the spirit of humility, and it is with humility that I join in them.
When next on your knees I humbly ask that you pray that I gain more humility not just this past Advent and Christmas, but for all of 2012 and beyond. May we all experience more of this virtue.
- Please put the soul of my uncle Marty who recently died of brain cancer, and his family on the prayer chain. May his soul and all souls of all the faithful departed rest in peace.
- Please add my mom, Rose, to the prayer chain. She was recently diagnosed with lung cancer and had her first chemotherapy treatment on Wednesday, December 28th.
- We just learned that my cousin, Bethany, passed away this morning in a car accident near her home outside of Wahoo. Bethany was to turn 17 next week and was a junior at Bishop Neumann High School. Her mother passed away from her battle with cancer a few years ago. Please keep her father, Dale, brothers and sister in-laws Aaron & Liz, Jordan & Amber, niece Bridgett and all family members in your prayers.
- Please add prayers for a dear friend who had a heart replacement and is doing as okay as can be expected.
- Mark’s mother collapsed this morning while shopping and was rushed to the hospital. She had a stroke and we do not know the severity.
- Please add Fr. Jerry, Associate Pastor, to the prayer chain. Fr. Jerry fell and broke his left shoulder on Saturday, and will be out of commission for awhile.
- Please pray for the wife and newborn daughter of the H family in Omaha. Their daughter, Faustina was born 7 wks premature. Mom & baby are still in the hospital.
- For Everdina, a friend recently diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer. For Twila, losing her battle with cancer, pray for an easy passing. And for Mandie, another friend courageously battling cancer, amputating an arm to battle it.
- I would ask for prayers for the grandson, 14 year old Joshua, of a family friend. He had major heart surgery last week at Children’s Hospital in Omaha. He will be in recovery and rehab for a while.
- I ask that you place my brother-in-law Mark on the prayer chain. He has just had his second heart attack and is being air-flighted to the closest hospital about 30 miles from his home in California.
- Please add the C family of Bellevue to the prayer list. They were involved in a car accident on Saturday which claimed the life of their two year old son, Robert.
- Please add my high school classmate and good friend Logan who is waiting for God to call him into His arms. Please pray for a peaceful end.
- Please pray for my youngest relative: Kian is in a neo-natal intensive care unit in Austin, TX.
- Please continue to pray for my mother Pat. She is having a tough time with her chemo and now has an infection and an ulcer.
- Please pray for Maria, who was in a head on collision tonight. She has a serious head injuries, and a punctured lung among other injuries and was transported to the Sioux City hospital.
- Ray and Jacki of are asking for prayers for a successful full term pregnancy. Jacki just found out she is expecting again and she has miscarried her last two pregnancies.
- There is a boy that my sister, JoAnn, has been helping at the school where she works. His name is Evan. Today was his 11th birthday. He was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago and underwent treatment for it. They thought they had gotten rid of it as he was in remission for quite a long period of time. It came back with a vengeance at the beginning of the school year and they once again began treatment. They are now stopping his current treatment as it has not been working. The only hope left for him is to fly to Denver to participate in a study. He was so sick today that he could not come to school. He is supposed to fly to Denver tomorrow for the study. Could you please put word out to your Brother Knights and ask them to please pray for him to have the strength to make it to Denver? And for his parents to find their hope and trust in our Heavenly Father.
- Mark is facing another back surgery and is in extreme pain and almost walking with a cane. He is expecting to have surgery at the VA in Omaha.
- Please include Mark’s grandson Max in our prayer line requests. He suffered a severe allergic reaction and is hospitalized.
- Please add Brad and his family to your prayers. Their infant daughter Julia was born and passed away last Thursday.
- My baby brother is going in for surgery today to find out if the lump he has is cancer or not. Please say a prayer for him and his wife that they get good news.
- I kindly ask all to pray for our granddaughter, Shannon, who is experiencing a very difficult pregnancy. She is in her eighth month and has been put on bed rest for the duration.
- I want to ask you for some extra prayers for Madison. Yesterday she was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes. Her parents are in Omaha now with her at Children’s Hospital, hopefully returning home tomorrow night.