Are You a Great Pretender?


Last night I watched the series premiere of The Grinder, a new comedy on Fox with Rob Lowe and Fred Savage. It was hilarious. Rob Lowe plays a popular actor who played a lawyer on television, while his brother, Fred Savage, is actually a practicing lawyer, but one that isn’t very good. Of course, the actor brother seems to be able to argue and win cases with a flair while his real brother lawyer needs his help. It was very funny indeed and both actors did an excellent job with comedic timing. It also stars William Devane as the father and his interjections into their conversations are awesome.

It made me think this morning while sitting through a delay at the airport in Detroit that sometimes we pretend to be disciples of Jesus and we think that it actually is good enough. Rob Lowe’s character suggests that because he has pretended to be a lawyer for years, he must have what it takes to actually practice law. But in the real world, we can’t rely on pretend doctors and lawyers to help us, we need the real thing.

In everyday Christian living, too often we go through the motions of being a disciple like attending Church on Sundays, saying grace before meals (at least sometimes), and answering that we are Christian, but only when asked. We can do these things without even thinking about it. We are not mindful of our actions or intentions. We are in a way, pretending.

Living as a disciple requires an intentional and deliberate choice, not one time in our past history, but every day of our lives. Then and only then can we grow in our faith and begin a process that leads to true transformation. Words with actions are empty, but actions without intent are just random movement. That can get you by in the television sitcom world, but it real life, it does provide the power to change the world and ultimately bring others to Christ.

Why Pray For The Pope?

pope praysIf there were anyone that needs no prayer, who would it be? One might be inclined to say Pope Francis, but they would be wrong. In his recent U.S. tour one message curiously stood out to me, “please, pray for me!” I let it go – practically unnoticed – until I really started thinking about it. After all, why pray for the Pope?

“For me, prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy.” St. Thérèse of Lisieux

What is Prayer, Anyway?

St. John Damascene says, “Prayer is the raising of one’s mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God.” We know from the Catechism of the Catholic Church that prayer is a gift from God (2559), which comes from the heart (2562), and is a communion with the “thrice-holy God…possible because, through baptism, we have already been united with Christ” (2565). Prayer is the relationship we have with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Thinking of St. Therese’s explanation above, we pray for many reasons. As humans we are compelled to communicate – we are social creatures. St Augustine recognized a deeper human need at the start of his Confessions, “God, you have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you.” We want to share our trials and joy with our creator. And we can do this through several basic forms of prayer: blessing, petition, intercession, thanksgiving, and praise (CCC 2644).

Other than praying for ourselves, to intercede on someone’s behalf is to pray as Jesus did as he is the one intercessor, with the Father on behalf of all men, especially sinners (CCC2634). Intercessory prayer is characteristic of a heart attuned toward God’s mercy (CCC 2635). In the Eucharistic liturgy and in the daily prayers of her faithful, the Church implores the mercy of God, who does not want “any to perish, but all to come to repentance” (1037).

Why does the Pope Need Prayer?

In a recent article Pope Francis explains why he asks for prayers: “I started asking it more often when I became bishop. I feel I have many weaknesses and problems…I am a sinner too. This request is something that comes from within. I also ask Mary to pray for me. It’s a habit that comes from the heart. It’s something I feel I have to ask.” This is reminiscent of his comment after first taking office, “Who am I to judge.” Pope Francis, whilw the Vicar of Christ on Earth, is human.

Who am I to pray for the Pope?

When in Washington D.C., Pope Francis asked House Speaker John Boehner to “please, pray for me.” Of course Senator Boehner’s response was “Who am I to pray for the Pope? But I did.” In a beautiful world with a fallen nature we may be very well aware of our shortcomings and sinfulness. We might even be tempted to think because of this our prayers are not valuable or effective. But I believe to the contrary. It is with the sincere heart we humble ourselves and pray for ourselves, our leadership, our world, Pope Francis, and salvation for all. A genuine prayer is an effective prayer.

So, Why Does the Pope Ask for Prayer?

Maybe it’s because he feels there is a need in his own life. Perhaps it’s to remind us of the inexhaustible need others have. Pope Francis, I am convinced, is reminding us of the importance of prayer. We simply cannot rely on humanity alone. We all need God to intervene in our lives and in society, and we need to trust that God is always with us. So, why pray for the Pope? He needs it like you and me! Please, pray for me, and I’ll pray for you.