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How Do We Pray? A series of reflections in a time of uncertainty: Sr. Mary Jo Nelson, OLVM

There is a great deal of chaos and confusion in our country today. We are more divided than we have been in recent history and we seemed to have lost our sense of civility and basic respect for our fellow human beings. There is name-calling and fingers pointed in blame for our current problems.

All of this is causing a feeling of helplessness and despair in a great many people.

So, at this time when our souls are aching, how do we pray? How do we talk to God, and what do we ask of Him? It is a time when we might look to our faith leaders — maybe not for answers, but for guidance.

Over the next few weeks, members of Our Lady of Victory Missionary Sisters will offer their thoughts on how we can turn to our personal faith to help us through turbulent times.

This week, Sister Mary Jo Nelson offers her reflection.

For those seeking to continue in their journey of prayer, OLVM holds weekly “Wednesdays for the World” at 7 p.m. each Wednesday in the OLV Chapel. All are welcome.


By Sister Mary Jo Nelson, OLVM

Parker Palmer, (a Quaker spiritual writer) has written about “the gap” we live in. He writes … “So many of us find ourselves standing between reality and possibility. We struggle to live in “the gap,” to live in a space where we do not collapse into the reality of what is that can lead to corrosive cynicism or collapse into pure possibility that can lead to irrelevant idealism. The challenge is not to deny reality, escape it, or become powerless in the face of it. The challenge is also to let our hearts be broken and to choose a path forward. There are two paths … our hearts can be broken into shards and scattered about or our hearts can be broken into new capacity.”

My prayer comes from the contemplative tradition along with a deep belief that God is present and cares about everything in our lives. We are so precious to God, that God is present in both the chaos and suffering, and the miracles, mystery, and goodness of our lives. Sitting in the presence of God, with the daily news in one hand and the Scriptures in the other is usually the way I start my day. Being conscious of what is going on in our world and caring about it and rooting myself in the word of God helps me to live with paradox and contradictions. It also helps me deepen my capacity to listen deeply and to be curious without judgement. It is a practice that plants seeds for a contemplative or alternative way of living — living from the inside, rather than reacting to everything that is happening outside of me or to me.

This prayer is not a way to escape from the world, but rather a way that one is drawn into the heart of the world — to its tragedies, darkness, and ongoing suffering. And, it is a way to become light, to become peace, to become compassion for our world.

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