The pandemic infection of Covid-19 has caused many deaths, illnesses, and losses to people and nations. In the face of this tragedy, what is the spiritual response of Christians? This tragedy should lead us to pray more, entrusting others and ourselves to God.
Saint John Henry Newman begins a sermon titled “Intercession,” with words from the Scriptures: “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.” Ephes. vi. 18.
Naturally we pray for ourselves … “the Apostles especially insist on another kind of prayer; prayer for others, for ourselves with others, for the Church, and for the world, that it may be brought into the Church.”
St. John Henry further cites various injunctions to prayer from the Scriptures. One of these …”I exhort that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and all that are in authority. I will therefore that men pray in every place.”
He points out that whereas at first sight some exhortations are to pray for self, they are found “really to have in view the good of the Church.”
St. Paul writes: “”We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you.” “We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers.” [Eph. i. 16, 17. Phil. i. 3, 4. Col. i. 3. 1 Thess. i. 2.]
So much of Christian prayer is intercessory for ordinations, cures, missions, etc. He adds:
“Such is the lesson taught us by the words and deeds of the Apostles and their brethren. Nor could it be otherwise, if Christianity be a social religion, as it is pre-eminently. If Christians are to live together, they will pray together; and united prayer is necessarily of an intercessory character, as being offered for each other and for the whole, and for self as one of the whole.”
We understand the gravity of the wide world spread of this deadly virus and the many deaths it has caused. We know the need to turn to God in prayer. But, are we doing so? And for what are we praying? Each one should examine himself or herself. Resolve to pray to God the Creator and Father for mercy. Resolve to say some specific prayers. And if you are doing so already, ask yourself: What more could I pray?
Newman teaches that “Intercession is the kind of prayer distinguishing a Christian from such as are not Christians.”
He then explains that the Christian is in a condition to offer such prayer because he is justified, that is, in a state of grace, and obedient to God. Accordingly, he cites the example of the blind man, who was cured, and said of Christ, “We know that God heareth not sinners; but, if any man be a worshipper of God and doeth His will, him He heareth.” [John ix. 31.]
And he continues with the words of St. James who says, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” And of St. John, “Whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him, because we keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.” [James v. 16. 1 John iii. 22.]
In addition to helping those who are sick and in need, and taking precautions not to spread Covid-19, we must turn to our Father God with faith and implore his mercy, ask him to sustain the healthcare professionals, heal the sick and bring comfort to the sorrowful. As we do so, let us turn often to the Virgin Mary, Mother of Christ and our Mother, asking her to intercede for us.
In many places, Mass will be canceled. This does not keep us from following the Mass on television and making a spiritual communion. We have been blessed living in the time of good health care and effective drugs. Many of us take this for granted. Our intercessory prayers can help join us with the many saints who have gone before us, who lived in a time without medicine or healthcare. These saints had only God during an illness, and we can draw strength from their witness.
Praying to Our Lady of Good Help has given peace to many faithful in times of tribulation:
Prayer to Our Lady of Good Help
O, Mary, Mother of God, who, amidst the tribulations of the world, watches over us and over the Church of your Son, be to us and to the Church truly Our Lady of Good Help, make haste to help us in all our necessities, that in this fleeting life you may be our succor, and obtain for us
(Mention your intention here…).
Help us to gain life everlasting through the merits of Jesus, your Son, our Lord and Redeemer. Amen.
Our Father…Hail Mary…Our Lady of Good Help, hasten to help us. Our Lady of Prompt Succor, hasten to help us. Our Lady of Prompt Succor, hasten to help us.