My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Last Sunday, Oct. 17, I ran and completed the Denver Marathon in 4 hours, 21 minutes and 47 seconds. It was my 17th marathon! The mile-high altitude was a challenge, but it was fun running with some friends. As I’ve done in the past, I used my marathon effort to raise money for charitable causes. Over $17,000 and a vacant lot were donated in the Chicago area to support the Chicago Legal Clinic, which provides legal services for the poor. Here in the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois, over $30,000 was raised so far to help pay off the debt of our beautiful Cathedral renovation. I very much appreciate the generosity of all those who contributed. We still have a way to go to retire the outstanding debt of over $2 million, but I am confident that we will do so eventually.
I am also deeply grateful for all the prayers that were offered for me in this marathon. I believe in the power of prayer and so I know they were helpful. While I was running, I prayed my finger rosary for the many intentions that had been requested of me. Many of the requests were very moving. Here is a sampling of some of the prayer intentions that were requested:
“1. World peace/end to war 2. Comfort those that cannot run and play, i.e., the handicapped, sick, suffering, and dying in this world. 3. In thanksgiving for my family and their continued health.”
“For the least of them, the anawim.”
“That the Lord grants me (all us really) the courage and strength to follow the Way. Knowledge through discernment in choosing the path our Lord wishes us to follow. And please pray that I can endure the life that the Lord wishes me to lead.”
“That our son return to the church.”
“Continued good health of my grandchildren.”
“For the unemployed, that they may find meaningful employment!”
“Please pray for funding for Father McGivney Catholic High School.”
“Our daughters. My Grandma. My parents. My husband.”
“For my Mom and Dad, my whole family, and a job that is a better match with my skills, and in which I can feel confident and do well!”
“God save our country. Souls in purgatory. Right to life. Spiritual health of daughter. Intentions of Sacred Heart and of our Blessed Mother.”
“A job for my son. Healing for my daughter’s marriage.”
“For fallen away Catholics to return to the church.”
“Your Excellency, please pray and run for the devotion to Our Lady of America.”
“May God’s grace, truth, peace, and love fill all the hearts in every nation; may his wisdom fill our minds and his strength guide our acts. For the sake of his sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world. St. Michael protect us.”
“My Mom’s eyes surgery.”
“In thanksgiving for God’s many blessings.”
“Please pray for an end to abortion and for our young mothers at the Crisis Pregnancy Center, some of whom are threatened with violence if they don’t seek an abortion.”
As I reviewed these prayer requests and kept them in mind while praying the rosary as I ran the Denver Marathon, what struck me most about them was that mainly they were asking for God’s help for other people, not for themselves. Look at them again and see what I mean. That in itself is a powerful witness to their Christian faith: that their loving concern is for the needs of others and not for their own desires or wants. It is also strong testimony to their belief in the power of prayer, otherwise they would not have bothered to write down their prayer requests and send them to me.
The power of prayer was also demonstrated very strikingly and clearly in the recent rescue of the 33 coal miners who were trapped in a coal mine in Chile, South America. CBS News reported that Mario Gore Messes, who at the age of 63 is the eldest of the group of miners, “became the group’s spiritual leader, requesting a crucifix and Catholic statues of saints to construct an underground shrine. Many miners wore the same T-shirt. It reads, ‘Gracias, Señor,’ or, “Thank you, Lord.’”
WABC reported while the miners were trapped, “More than 1,000 relatives of the stranded miners moved to the desert and set up tents. Before long, the area around the San Jose mine becomes a village. A village based on prayers, hope, faith. In fact, they call this place Camp Hope. Every Sunday, there’s a Catholic Mass.”
After all 33 miners were rescued, WNBC reported that one of them “hugged and kissed just about everyone, and then said of his ordeal, ‘I met God. I met the devil. God won.’”
The secular Boston Globe admitted, “This has become spiritual.” Even The New York Times reported, “‘Miracle at the Mine’ is what Good Morning America called it, and it was a Nativity scene witnessed worldwide.’”
One man was quoted by AOLnews.com as saying, “God wanted me to stay here. I do not know why, maybe for me to change.”
Fox News Channel summed it up: “It ended everything as a blessing of God.”
We should keep these experiences in mind when we feel trapped and wonder about the power of prayer.
May God give us this grace. Amen.