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A Simple Reminder

Prayer Before MealsLast week, my daughter, Laura, shared a recent experience in a family email.  After I read the email, I asked Laura if I could publish what she said in my Adoration Letter.  She said yes.  Laura is 26 years old and was recently involved in a play at a local community theater.  I changed the name of her friend to protect her friend’s privacy.  Here’s the email:

Pretty cool story about my last night of the play last Sunday.  A group of about 10 of us went to Olive Garden after the show for a final “cast party.”  I was sitting across from two fallen-away Mormons (they were raised Mormon and now have no faith), and next to my stage manager (Jane) who does not have a faith.

Although Jane and I get along great, I started off kinda scared of her because she’s pretty rough around the edges.  As the show went on, I started seeing softer sides of her and so I started joking around with her and now we get along super well, and I love making her laugh.

Anyway, she and I were having a conversation at the table before we got our food and I mentioned to her that I was Catholic.  She told me that her brother is a Catholic Benedictine Monk!  She also shared some of her family history — she’s Italian, worked in a family grocery store, parents are divorced, and one side of her family is Catholic.

When our food arrived, I made the sign of the cross, bowed my head, and prayed.  When I finished my prayer, I made the sign of the cross again and then looked up.  The ex-Mormons had already started eating, but they stopped and were looking at me.  Jane was looking at me as well, and said, “Are we going to pray, or what?”

I was stunned by her question and responded, “Do you want to pray?”  She looked at me and then at the ex-Mormons.  I repeated my question and said, “Do you guys want to pray?”  Jane responded, “I don’t know how to pray.”  I looked at the ex-Mormons and they also indicated that they didn’t know how to pray before a meal.

I spoke up and said, “I know how to pray and I would love to, if you guys want to!”  Without waiting for a response, I made the sign of the cross, prayed out loud, and finished with “In Your most Holy and Precious Name, Jesus, Amen.”  All three of them said, “Amen,” and made the funniest sign of the cross I’ve ever seen.

I looked at the other people sitting at the table and noticed that a few of them had also prayed with us.  The rest of the group looked totally puzzled, as if to say, “What the heck just happened?”  It’s definitely not every day that a theater crowd experiences prayer, much less asks for it!

I told Jane that she is welcome to come to church with me anytime.  She said she would definitely be open to coming.  So, we are planning on going to Mass together this Sunday.  Please pray that Jane will open her heart and experience God in some way.

God works in mysterious ways doesn’t He?

Love you all,

Laura

There were several responses to Laura’s email, one of which came from my daughter Maria: “That is beautiful, Laura!  God can always light up the darkness if people just let Him in.  Good job too, being courageous and not “going with the flow” when it came to prayer at mealtime.  Perhaps that opened the door for some of those lost souls who need truth in their lives.”

Here’s Laura’s response to Maria:

Thanks, Maria.  God just continues to amaze me.  I was in awe that night.  I couldn’t even believe it.  The conversations He allowed me to have with some of the people at the table were remarkable.

Something I’m constantly reminded of is that these people are always hurting for a reason.  I always like to dig a little to get some insight into why they are feeling, the way they’re feeling, or why they are anti-Catholic, or gay, or divorced, or provocative, or have contemplated suicide in the past, whatever the case may be.

I don’t know why I’m naturally attracted to people who are a bit “rough around the edges,” but I do know that God isn’t just working through me.  He’s certainly working through them to touch my life, more so than He does in the nice, safe little Catholic bubble where I usually hang out.  He shocks me all the time, and I’m constantly saying, “Really, God?”

It’s funny that you say good job being courageous and not just going with the flow with something as “simple” as mealtime prayer.  It’s incredible how hard it becomes to pray before a meal in front of other people.  We should never underestimate the power of a tiny little gesture for God.

You never know when He’s going to use it, but we have to give Him the opportunity use His power through us, as hard as that can be in front of friends or those who have no beliefs.

One thing I really like to do if I’m comfortable with a friend who’s not Christian (if it’s just the two of us), is ask if they want me to pray out loud before the meal (instead of just praying by myself in silence).  Sometimes they’ll say yes, which might be the only time they’ll ever pray or hear a prayer.  You never know … asking never hurts.

[Closing personal comments to Maria]

It’s good to be reminded of the simple things we should be doing to share our faith with others.  Thanks for the reminder, Laura.

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5 Responses to “A Simple Reminder”

  1. Theresa DeBonis Says:

    Hi Harry, I am so very proud of Laura and all of your children. It is a joy when children are open to demonstrate and share their faith with others. This is what we should be doing since so many are not as fortunate as us, to grow up in a Christian home with God’s great example of love. Thanks to you and Georgette. You truly gave these kids a strong foundation and true example of God’s love.

  2. Sister Roberta Houlihan, CSJ Says:

    DEAR HARRY AND GEORGETTE –
    I AGREE WITH THERESA’S COMMENT ABOVE MINE! YOU BOTH ARE FILLED WITH THE WISDOM OF THE HOLY SPIRIT! NOT ONLY THAT, BUT YOU’VE USED THAT WISDOM! EVERYONE HAS BEEN OFFERED WISDOM, BUT ONLY SOME USE IT AS GOD HAS DESIRED.
    I WISH I HAD MET ALL OF YOUR CHILDREN WHILE I LIVED IN PEORIA! THE ONLY ONE I HAD CONTACT WITH IS HARRY, jr, AT PND, AND AT MORNING MASSES IN HOLY FAMILY PARISH. HE IS DELIGHTFUL!
    KEEP UP THE WONDERFUL WORK! LOVE, SISTER ROBERTA

  3. Harry Says:

    Theresa – Thanks for your comment. I’ll pass it on to Laura.

  4. Harry Says:

    Sister – Thank you for your comments every week and your continuing support. I miss the years when our children were growing up. I hope all is going well for you. Harry

  5. Laura Says:

    Thank you for your comments and for the prayers. Jane went with me to Mass this past Sunday and it was good and beautiful. Caused some good discussion and it was definitely a learning and growing experience for the both of us. I told her there was an open invitation and that she is welcome any time. She texted me today to see if she could come again on Sunday and I ended up inviting her to Mass tonight as well. She is now going back with me tonight and then again on Sunday. I’m not expecting a conversion, but I do know that every time she goes to Mass, there is an opportunity for God to touch her heart in some way. Praise Him. Please keep the prayers coming…they’re very powerful!

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