Friday reflection: Who has my back?

I gave this reflection at St. Clement Eucharistic Shrine on Nov. 20, 2020. The reading (Zechariah 2:14-17) is from the optional readings for the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The text for the reflection is below the video and audio players.

Friday reflection on Nov. 20, 2020: Who has my back?

Will someone get my back?

I sometimes ask that question, especially when I feel all alone and everything is against me.  It reminds me of that scene in action and war movies.  The hero finds himself terribly outnumbered and he has only a grenade and a bullet left to fight them.  He wonders, “Will someone get my back?”

But I love that movie scene because when he fires that last bullet and launches that last grenade, there’s this giant explosion.  The entire enemy is wiped out.  He looks at his gun.  “Did I do that?” he wondered.  Actually, his buddies called in air support.  Jets and bombers blasted the area with missiles and bombs.  Someone had his back.

Oh, how I desire that kind of help in my life.  Yet it happens.  Problems and assignments are up to my eyeballs.  I can’t do anything else, except say a short prayer for help.  Heh, why not?  I have nothing left to lose.  “Jesus, you take care of this.”  Immediately, all my problems were resolved.  “Did I do that with my little prayer?” I thought.  Actually, others prayed to God for me.  His angels dropped a giant grace bomb and destroyed all the obstacles.

Will someone get my back?

Father Lanteri would say, “Of course, your brother Oblates.”

He wrote in the Directory on the Rule that we Oblates should become men of prayer.  For everyone’s sanctification, we rely on the Spiritual Exercises.  So, Fr. Lanteri gave us Oblates an identity and a purpose.  We are men of prayer formed by the Exercises.  We are united under the daughter of Zion, the Blessed Virgin Mary, as the prophet Zechariah says in the reading.  So that when push comes to shove, we can always rely on that training to pray. 

We are trained to be men of prayer, spiritual warriors.  We trust that we have each other’s back if one of us is struggling.  I don’t wonder whether you my Oblate brothers are praying for a giant grace bomb in my life.  I expect it.  But where can we ask for that grace?  Community prayer. We come together for Morning Prayer and Mass and again for Rosary, Evening Prayer and Night Prayer.  Where two or three are gathered in Jesus’ name, He is in our midst to help us, just as the prophet Zechariah says. 

How do we have each other’s back in community prayer?  Here are three ways.

  1. Bring a personal intention.  Formed by the Exercises, we Oblates are aware of the desires of our heart.  Fr. Lanteri recommends that we bring those desires to community prayer like the intercessions at Morning and Evening Prayer.  There, we act as an ambassador to God, bringing our concerns and needs.
  2. Pray for my religious brother.  Because my brother gives his intention, I can intercede to God for him during my personal prayer and the rest of community prayer.  We live out Fr. Lanteri’s call for the Oblates to love one another.  Every morning, after I get up, I pray for you.  I first thank God that he has given to me you my religious brothers.  I ask that God may help you in your problems and that He may help me become the brother He wants me to be.
  3. Share the graces.  When our prayers are answered, we can give thanks in community prayer.  We rejoice with our brother’s joy.  Also, during our accountability sessions, the graces from our prayer can help a brother who is struggling.  By sharing those spiritual fruits, we become a religious community.

That’s how Oblates have each other’s back in community prayer.  We bring an intention.  We pray for our brother.  We share the graces.

When we do those three things, we tell each other: “Remember who you are.  You are a man of prayer.  Pray for your brother.”

Because we are men of prayer, we remind everyone else that we have their back.

“Brother, we pray for you.  Remember who you are.  You are a man of prayer.  Pray for your brothers and sisters.”

“Sister, we pray for you.  Remember who you are.  You are a woman of prayer.  Pray for your brothers and sisters.”

When everyone prays for one another, we become the one people under God, according to the prophet Zechariah.

Will someone get my back?

Yes, my Oblate brothers because we are men of prayer.  We look out for each other.

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