Deacon Tony reflects: Prayer – a personal relationship with God

Last year Pope Francis declared that the fourth Sunday in July should be a day throughout the Church for celebrating Grandparents and the Elderly. It is chosen to be this Sunday as it is close to the feast day of Saints Joachim and Anne, the grandparents of Jesus. How fitting that this year we have in our first reading a story about Abraham, the Father of Faith. This is a man revered by Jews, Muslims and Christians alike. In the story today we hear Abraham plead with God to be merciful and not to destroy Sodom & Gomorrah; if there are some just men still present amongst the chaos and debauchery of those places.

The theme of the Grandparents and Elderly Day this year is ‘In old age they will still bear fruit’ (Psalm 92:15). Grandparents and the elderly have much to offer, they have lived experience of what life has to offer us all, we can sometimes forget that they were once young and faced some of the same challenges in life that are faced by younger people today. People in their seventies and eighties today, were the youth of the Rock and Roll era and the so-called ‘Swinging Sixties’.

Those people who are part of the Church may have lived through some of the most noticeable changes made to the Church following Vatican II. We have much to learn from them. While some look back fondly on the Church prior to Vatican II, many adjusted to the changes with vigour and hope that this was a new dawning for the Church. The laity being more involved, Holy Mass being celebrated in their own language [the vernacular], and closer links with other Christian denominations being some of the changes implemented. Grandparents and the Elderly can be a great witness to living out their vocation and what God’s call is for them; can also advise our younger people; discerning their vocation. It’s also important to think of and pray in thanksgiving to those who have inspired us in our lives, who are no longer with us.  [For more information and resources please go to the national website:].

Abraham demonstrates in the first reading the importance of persistence in prayer; this same persistence is mentioned by Jesus in the Gospel. Prayer is an essential part of our Faith; it allows us to communicate with God. Sometimes our prayer life can become a little bit stale, we struggle with distractions or perhaps find other less important things to do. Maybe we do not know what to say or who to pray for. While the words used by Jesus have become a formal way of praying, some people find just sitting still in a quiet place allows them to feel closer to God; one of the best places to do this is in front of the Blessed Sacrament. Others may have a chatty style of prayer, where they can relate to God in a more relaxed style. Prayer allows us to enter into an intimate and personal relationship with God; and prayer also allows us to maintain that relationship. Jesus is emphasising how important it is to communicate with God and He calls us all into that relationship.

St Paul tells us in the second reading that we have all been buried with Christ as well as being raised up with Him through our Baptism. He also states that the record of our sins has been nailed to the cross with Christ. The mercy of Christ is something we need to pray for every day; not just for ourselves, but for those we can see who are sinning. This is what Abraham was doing. We are not however, called to do this, with a ‘holier than thou’ attitude, we know we are sinners, and we need to approach the Lord in a similar way to Abraham. Abraham had an intimate and personal relationship with God, he was bold within that relationship, and he spoke of this boldness when he pleaded for the sinners in Sodom and Gomorrah. As Christians we should have a confidence to speak with God as his children, He is our Father, that is what Jesus told us to call Him when we pray.

Last week I was at a family wedding in Jersey. It was amazing catching up with family from various parts of the world as we came together to celebrate. There was lots of laughter and a little sadness as we remembered those who were unable to join us. Some of the conversations reminded me of the times I spent with my grandparents. Thinking back, I know that I learned so much from them but hearing some of my cousins’ memories made me think that I could have learned so much more if I had taken the time to listen more. The day I got married my Granda John woke me up, like he had done for several years, he had cooked my breakfast. After breakfast I went to confession with my Granny Peggy, before coming home to get ready to go to my wedding. My grandparents had been there for all of my formative Sacraments growing up, they had encouraged me and instilled within me a sense of right and wrong. They supported my parents and allowed me to grow in my faith.

Meeting up with some of my extended family was a good reminder of the past, but also affirmed for me the role I now play as a grandparent. On the journey to the airport to make our way home we received a Video Call from our son, introducing us to our new Granddaughter who arrived safe and well on Wednesday. On Thursday we were with one of her other grandparents as our son and daughter-in-law brought their new daughter home. We are overjoyed at this birth, we now need to work at how we can continue to bear fruit in the ways we help our son and daughter-in-law as they raise their family, a shoot from our family, still firmly attached to the vine.

Further Reading

The Catechism of the Catholic Church

CCC 2634-2636: prayer of intercession
CCC 2566-2567: universal call to prayer
CCC 2761-2772: the Lord’s Prayer as a synthesis of Gospel
CCC 2609-2610, 2613, 2777-2785: turning to God with persistence and filial trust
CCC 2654: lectio divina
CCC 537, 628, 1002, 1227: buried and risen in baptism

Please keep in your prayers this week

  • All grandparents and the elderly in our Parishes, that we may continue to learn from them and that we continue to look out for them
  • The Ukrainian and Russian people, may they be able to live in peace.
  • Those who are sick, those recovering from surgery, those who are dying, the recently deceased and those who mourn.
  • Those who struggle to pray, may the example of Abraham in our first reading today encourage them to persist in their prayer life.
  • As we prepare to welcome Fr John and Fr Jean-Patrice to Holy Ghost Parish, we thank God for Fr Dominic and Fr John’s service and wish them well in their new ventures; we also remember all other priests who will be moving this September.
  • The parents and Godparents who will complete the Baptism Preparation Course this weekend and Adriel who will be baptised this Sunday in St Bede’s