Category: Prayer

Prayers in Time of Drought

This is a guest post, submitted by Fr. Jim Schmitmeyer, author of the “Can I Get an Amen” column in Today’s Parish. Fr. Jim is the pastor of Holy Angels Catholic Church in Childress, Texas and Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Memphis, Texas. For more ways you can use prayer practices and other techniques to support adult faith, see this article on the Today’s Parish website.


Nick and Pat stand next to their pickup truck. I lean on the tailgate, my foot propped on the hitch. Nick’s face is drawn, his eyes tired.

“The fire at Dickens took out 75,000 acres.”

For a moment, we stare across the open plain. In the distance, smoke wraps around a mesa, its folds as soft and gray as a bandana.

“Billy Roy helped fight that fire.” I say. “Crystal said he came home at 4 in the morning.”

“Anyone get hurt?”

“Didn’t say.”

Nick and Pat are retired ranchers. Billy Roy is a young farmer, lean and scrappy. All three are my neighbors. For a moment, I imagine Nick backing a trailer to load up cattle, Pat opening the gate, the phlegm of smoke in their throats. I see Billy Roy atop a bulldozer, fear on his face, fire crackling beside the cleats.

In these days of drought, I suspect their prayers sound more like curses than polite requests.

“We gotta go.”

A breeze angles the brim of Nick’s hat. He looks at Pat. “You got co-op books to balance.”

She yanks open the door. “What’s to balance?”

The truck pulls away. I walk to the porch and pull up a rocker. Twilight settles on the fields. Soon, lights atop irrigation derricks begin their nervous winks. It’s a nightly routine. For miles, flashing beams slit the night with stabs of light.

The strobes distract my reverie. Eventually, I make my peace with them and turn my thoughts to seeds and soil and the meager water that falls from hoses in the shape of bells.

South of town, Billy Roy checks the derricks on his brother’s farm. The wheels of his truck rock across furrows of dirt. The headlights polish piles of field stone and, now and then, silver the eyes of a thirsty coyote.

Inside the cab, country music replaces the clang of bulldozer cleats. Yet worry remains. It’s a time of drought, after all, and the ground cracks open like Judgment Day. Cattle get sold and people get religion.

And I wonder if Billy Roy prays among the derricks, amid those bells of water, as hard as he does in the crackle of fire.

Haiti—21 resources for parishes

rubble_earthquake_rubbish_277614_l1Here is a list of resources for parishes to use for discussing and responding to the Haitian earthquake. Please add your comments about other resources you may know about.

Aid agencies

Compassion for Haiti: The Gift of Tears (Catholic Relief Services)
Catholic charities respond to Haiti crisis (video)
Catholic agencies prepare for long-term relief (NCR)
USA: urgent appeal for the people of Haiti (Jesuit Refugee Service)

Liturgy and prayer

Homily by Archbishop Carlson at Mass for victims in Haiti
How Can Catholics Help Haiti? (Archbishop Dolan-video)
Haiti, Eucharist and Justice: How the Cry of the Poor Affects our Worship (Joyce Donahue)
A prayer for dreamers amid the nightmare in Haiti (TeamRCIA)
A Prayer for Haiti (Diana Macalintal)
Una oración para después del terremoto en Haití (Diana Macalintal, tr. Marilu S. Covani)
Haiti—Does liturgy matter? (Today’s Parish)

Education and catechesis

Resources For Catholic Educators and Youth Ministers (Catholic Relief Services)
How Catholics Can Talk About and Deal with the Tragedy in Haiti (Joe Paprocki)
Why does he permit earthquakes in the poorest country in the hemisphere? (Fleming Rutledge)
Why God Allowed Haiti Disaster (Archbishop Dolan-SIRUS XM Radio)
Poverty Lessons From Haiti (New York Times)
Response to Pat Robertson (Paul Snatchko)

General information

CIA World Factbook on Haiti
8 Things to Keep in Mind About Haiti (The Huffington Post)
Interactive map of the Haitian earthquake (MSNBC)
Photos from Haiti (daylife)

A Prayer for Haiti

On Tuesday, January 12, 2010, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit southern Haiti, ten miles from the capital, Port-Au-Prince. Heavy damage, severe injuries, and serious loss of life are expected.

Two Americans still missing in the rubble are Catholic aid workers from the Diocese of Norwich, Connecticut. 

Haiti is the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. About 80% of Haitians live in poverty.

Donate now to Catholic Relief Services emergency relief in Haiti.

A Prayer After the Earthquake in Haiti

Lord, at times such as this,
when we realize that the ground beneath our feet
is not as solid as we had imagined,
we plead for your mercy.

As the things we have built crumble about us,
we know too well how small we truly are
on this ever-changing, ever-moving,
fragile planet we call home.
Yet you have promised never to forget us.

Do not forget us now.

Today, so many people are afraid.
They wait in fear of the next tremor.
They hear the cries of the injured amid the rubble.
They roam the streets in shock at what they see.
And they fill the dusty air with wails of grief
and the names of missing dead.

Comfort them, Lord, in this disaster.
Be their rock when the earth refuses to stand still,
and shelter them under your wings when homes no longer exist.

Embrace in your arms those who died so suddenly this day.
Console the hearts of those who mourn,
and ease the pain of bodies on the brink of death.

Pierce, too, our hearts with compassion,
we who watch from afar,
as the poorest on this side of the earth
find only misery upon misery.
Move us to act swiftly this day,
to give generously every day,
to work for justice always,
and to pray unceasingly for those without hope.

And once the shaking has ceased,
the images of destruction have stopped filling the news,
and our thoughts return to life’s daily rumblings,
let us not forget that we are all your children
and they, our brothers and sisters.
We are all the work of your hands.

For though the mountains leave their place
and the hills be tossed to the ground,
your love shall never leave us,
and your promise of peace will never be shaken.

Our help is in the name of the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
Blessed be the name of the Lord,
now and forever. Amen.

Copyright © 2010, Diana Macalintal. Permission is given to reprint.

Photo: "Weeping Christ" by Broken Lens via The sculpture, titled "And Jesus Wept," is on the grounds of the Saint Joseph’s Old Cathedral and the diocesan chancery offices for Oklahoma City, OK, which is right across the street from the Murrah Building Memorial.

Reclaiming Time

I have to thank my friend Rev. Keith Dragt for this thought.  Today in our staff meeting he asked us, if you were given 86400 dollars every day how would you spend it?  The only catch is, you have to spend the whole 86400 dollars otherwise you lose it.  You can’t save it, you have to spend it.

You get 86400 seconds every day.  Have you ever thought about how you use them? Have you ever thought of those seconds in the same way you think of a dollar?  Is it possible that those seconds might be worth more than money, and if so, why don’t we value our time in the same way we value the money in our wallet?

In ministry this is a very interesting thought, especially when it seems everyone wants a piece of our time.  Where do we draw the line?  Our senior minister, Rev. Ken Ruge, often warns us against being overpaid administrative assistants.  How many tasks do we perform in our jobs that really have nothing to do with the big picture?

For that matter, how much time do we spend praying, which could have the greatest impact on our work in ministry; a much larger impact than some of the small things that often take an inordinate amount of our time.

Prayer for good speech

Many Web sites claim that a University of Iowa study found that each day a child hears on average 432 negative words but only 32 positive words. Whether that’s accurate or not, we can all try to speak more positively.

Gracious God, with only words,
you created the universe and called it “good.”
Help me, then, to use my words well,
to create only life and give blessing this day.

You numbered the stars and called each one by name.
Let me cherish each person I meet
and speak their name with reverence.

You promised that your word is very near to us,
already in our mouths and in our hearts.
Give me your Spirit and teach me what to say.
Stand guard over my mouth and temper my heart
when emotions race and words so easily cut.
Help me know when to speak up,
to be a cry of the poor and a voice in the desert,
and teach me the wisdom to know when to be silent.

Your words calmed the seas, raised the dead,
forgave the sinner, and comforted the mourning.
Give me the grace to speak the simple words:
“Please” and “Thank you.” “Yes.” “I love you.”
Strengthen me to say the words that need to be said:
“I was wrong.” “I’m sorry.” “Forgive me.” “I forgive you.”
Let my “yes” be “yes,” my “no” mean “no,”
and my promises be kept.

Above all, may I remember that
even if I speak with the tongues of angels,
yet do not have love, I am simply making noise.
So let my tongue be silenced if ever I forget you.
Lord, today, make me your word and open my lips*,
and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.

*Make the Sign of the Cross on your lips.

This prayer may be reprinted in your parish bulletin or on your Web site as long as you include the following credit line:

©Diana Macalintal. For more pastoral resources, visit

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