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Praying in Sickness and Old Age
Archdiocese of Washington ^ | 8/27/2010 | Msgr Charles Pope

Posted on 08/28/2010 3:36:55 AM PDT by markomalley

Some of the elderly to whom I bring Communion as well as the sick express regret that their age or illness makes it difficult for them to pray.  In years gone by they were busy at work and raising kids and prayer was difficult then. But now that they have the time they regret they cannot concentrate enough to pray. Others struggle to be able to read any longer. Still others find that their memory has faded and prayers, once well known, are now gone and requests for prayer cannot be remembered.

Indeed as the mind grows weaker prayer becomes difficult and distracted. What to do? I usually suggest just a few things.

  1. Sighing- There is a beautiful passage by St. Augustine in his Letter to Proba wherein he speaks of the power of sighs and tears in prayer as more eloquent than words:  This task [of prayer] is generally accomplished more through sighs than words, more through weeping than speech. He “Places our tears in his sight“, and “Our sighs are not hidden from Him,” (Psalm 38:9),  for He has established all things through His Word and does not seek human words. (Letter 130 “To Proba” Chapter 10). Hence this great saint reminds us to sigh often in prayer. Now sighing is linked to longing, longing for relief for our self or others, longing to be with God, longing for things indescribable. Hence I often advise the elderly to sigh more that to be anxious about what words to say or thoughts to form. A sigh often contains them all. For we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes with inexpressible groanings. And the one who searches hearts knows what is the intention of the Spirit…(Rom 8:26-27). To sigh with concern and longing is worth more than any words.

  2. Holding the Rosary – For many of the elderly or sick praying a full rosary is difficult. Even a decade may present challenges. In such cases it well suffices to hold the beads as though one were simply holding Mary’s hand. This is prayer.  Sometimes late at night I too adopt this prayer. Perhaps I have been awakened and feel troubled by some sort of dream or anxiety. And yet I am not awake enough to concentrate on specific prayers. At times like these I just hold my rosary beads until sleep once again comes. It is very consoling and as if I were holding Mary’s hand.
  3. A loving glance- It is good to have a picture (or crucifix) of our Lord, the Blessed Mother of other saints near at hand or on the wall. For the sick and elderly who have trouble praying a simple and loving glance is a rich prayer.
  4. A general offering of our very weakness – When we are sick, infirm or of advanced age we clearly have a sacrifice to offer God, the sacrifice of our very infirmity. Just a simple act of the will from time to time asking the Lord to accept our weakness and humble state as a sacrificial offering. Here too sighs are often all that is necessary in expressing this intention and joining our suffering to Christ’s own, once upon the Cross: Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the Church (Col 1:24).

Perhaps you could add to this list?

Finally,  a word of encouragement to those who do suffer. The Lord is especially close to those who suffer and because of this your prayer is especially powerful. Do not fear the lack of eloquence, sighs are more. Just trust that God’s has a special ear for you on account of your sufferings. A simple loving glance, a sigh, holding your beads, this is all it takes. The prayer of the lowly pierces the clouds; it does not rest until it reaches its goal, nor will it withdraw till the Most High responds (Sirach 35:17-18a). Though the LORD is on high, he looks upon the lowly (Psalm 138:6).  The LORD is close to the brokenhearted, whose spirit is crushed he will save (Psalm 34:19). Though the LORD scoffs at the scoffers, Yet He gives grace to the afflicted (Prov 3:24).

TOPICS: Catholic; Ministry/Outreach; Prayer
KEYWORDS: msgrcharlespope; oldage; prayer; rosary; sickness

1 posted on 08/28/2010 3:36:56 AM PDT by markomalley
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To: markomalley

The Holy Spirit willl take the meaning on high, God sees the
heart..God loves you so much!!!

2 posted on 08/28/2010 4:02:57 AM PDT by aeonspromise
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To: markomalley


Dear Lord,
as my life declines 
and my energies decrease,
more than ever hold me by Your Power,
that I may not offend You,
but daily increase in Your Love.
Give me strength to work in Your Service 
till the last day of my life.
Help me to ever have 
an increasing dread of venial sin,
or whatever would cause 
the slightest withdrawal of Your love,
all day long,
and at night keep me close to Your Heart;
and should I die, ere the morning breaks,
may I go rejoicing in that vision 
of Your entrancing beauty,
never to be separated from You.


3 posted on 08/28/2010 10:43:22 AM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: aeonspromise

Prayer for Those Who Are Terminally Ill

Lord Jesus, you healed so many people during your public ministry. I bring before you now, in prayer, all those who are terminally ill -- those afflicted with cancer, AIDS, and other illnesses.
Look lovingly and compassionately upon them. Let them feel the strength of your consolation. Help them and their families to accept this cross they are asked to carry.  Protect them from euthanasia, Lord.
Let them see you carrying their cross with them, at their side, as you once carried yours to Calvary. May Mary be there, too, to comfort them. 
Lord Jesus, I know and believe that, if it is your will, you can cure those I pray for (especially N.). I place my trust in you. I pray with faith, but I also pray as you did in Gethsemane: your will be done. 
Bless us, Lord, and hear my prayer. Amen.
Reprinted from "Queen of Apostles Prayerbook" with permission of copyright holder, Pauline Books & Media,

4 posted on 08/28/2010 10:44:03 AM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: markomalley
Praying in Sickness and Old Age
The Church as a Hospital
[CATHOLIC CAUCUS] The Apostolate of Suffering Redux

Redemptive Suffering
Through church, Jesus ministers to all who are sick in the world
'Amazing Grace for Those Who Suffer'
Pope Benedict asks sick to offer up suffering for priests (Catholic Caucus)
Why Must I Suffer?
On the Advantages of Tribulations by Saint Alphonsus Liguori
Why Be Catholic? 3: Suffering [Ecumenical]
"Love Really Can Make Suffering Bearable": Woman with Spina Bifida
Experts at Euthanasia Symposium Stress Unity, Strategy, and the Triumph of Love over Suffering
Holy Father prays for peace and unity, encourages the suffering to trust in God

Joy-Filled Suffering, Laetare Sunday
Children 'Suffering >From Lack Of Two-Parent Family', Study Finds
Pope Says Euthanasia 'False Solution' to Suffering, Alludes to Comatose Woman's Fate
Excerpts from THE FRUITS OF HIS LOVE - The Value Of Suffering - Mother M. Angelica
Why Not You? (on suffering)
Vicar takes down crucifixion sculpture 'because it's a scary depiction of suffering'
The Value of Suffering in the Life of Christian Perfection
Prayers to Saint Agatha [For Those Suffering from Breast Cancer]
REDEMPTIVE SUFFERING(Catholic Caucus or by Invitation Only)

5 posted on 08/28/2010 8:23:01 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All

The prayer of the sick person in his patience and his acceptance of the sickness for the love of Jesus Christ. This has great worth when it is motivated by the imitation of how much He suffered for us, and by penance for our sins.

— St. Charles of Seeze

6 posted on 08/28/2010 9:56:24 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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