This is all to say that passions are as deep within me as with anyone about the state of the nation, and what direction society at large should go. And, yes, at times I let my passions get heated, and often allow negative feelings to disturb my peace. Many times, it is because there are disturbing things in society and the government; downright troubling things that have real adverse effects on people’s lives, especially innocent people.
So it is with this introduction that I describe a moment of peace granted me by the Lord just this morning, and I have Saint Paul to thank, as well, since it was his words to Saint Timothy that were the immediate cause of this peace. As is my custom, after waking up and thanking God for the night that passed, and the day beginning, and invoking the Blessed Virgin and Saint Joseph, with my guardian angel and Saint Therese for their assistance, I get out my Bible app and read a short passage that is to be a theme for the day. I’ve been going through the letters of Saint Paul lately, and this passage was next in line:
1 Timothy 2:1-2 "First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way."
Okay, I’ve read that before; and shortly after this is the oft-quoted line from Saint Paul about Jesus being the One Mediator between God and man. But I decided to stay with these first two lines from the 2nd chapter. “I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men, and for kings and all who are in high positions. . .” The Apostle urges his protégé and son in the Lord to get this work of prayer going. He obviously sees it as a duty, on the one hand, and much more than that: “that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way.” There is a genuine self-interest involved here.
Christian theology is very clear on human freedom, that individuals can and do disobey God’s will, and that they can change by grace and begin to cooperate with God’s will. In the mix of all of this is the effectiveness of genuine prayer before the Lord, that He does indeed hear and listen, and act. He can change the hearts of others because of our prayer and supplication.
But whence the sense of peace that descended upon me, or rather, welled up within me? Let’s face it: I am not fan of career politicians. It’s frustrating to see the extent to which the nation has fallen short of its Constitutional moorings and that there is even a potential Constitutional crisis in the works over the next couple of days should the president violate the 14th amendment. The degree to which frustration grows is proportionate to the lack of ability to make any changes on one’s own.
But that’s not my role.
Years ago, I went through a particularly dark period during which the Church seemed set on a wrong course, with scandals and buffoonery, lack of discipline and widespread inanity that was left unchecked by those in authority. At a critical moment, someone told me about yet another stupid thing going on somewhere in the Church. I had had enough, and, moved by a bonk-on-the-head grace, I almost yelled in exasperation, “That’s on the pope’s conscience; not mine!” The immediate effect of saying these words, and hearing myself say them, was delightfully overwhelming, much like the morning sun that greeted me yesterday after 4 days of rain and clouds. I was free, for I had my job to do, and the pope had his; why try to do his without his permission? Mine was tough enough.
Likewise, most of us who watch the national side-show of Washington two-stepping can do very little about it from a power or authority side. Sure, make calls, send emails, write letters and tweet stuff, but much of what will happen over the next few days, months and years is not really in our power to change. Perhaps the prescription of Saint Paul is what is necessary, and actually quite powerful. Lighting and re-lighting internal fires only raises blood pressure and serves to self-defeat a person. But making “supplications, prayers, intercessions and thanksgivings” for those in authority, that’s something I, and anyone, can do. It may not bring about sudden, transformational change for the good, but it might. And let’s not forget that after the Pope called for a day of prayer and fasting to stop an imminent bombing of Syria, no bombs were dropped.
The long and short of it is that we should be earnestly praying for the president, congress and others “in high positions”, for their conversion where necessary, and “that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way.