The Power of Praying for Others: Opa's Example
I recently took an unanticipated hiatus from social media. It wasn’t premeditated or even purposeful. I would log on every day with the intention to post; I would scroll my feed, and then I would just close the app. I didn’t know why until recently…
I realized I felt guilty. I witnessed so many other people share their suffering. So many people in the same state in life as me share their immense crosses and burdens - sick children, ailing parents, deceased family, debilitating illnesses. I felt so amazed and inspired at the holiness of each of these people, of their acceptance of their struggles, and of how they lifted them up to the Lord, but ultimately, I felt intense guilt. Why do I not have to suffer like they do? I looked around at my blessed life, and I felt bad.
My grandfather has cancer. My beloved Opa, my mom’s dad, has end-stage lymphoma. We just found out that the chemo isn’t working, and that he is turning his fight over to the hands of Jesus. He is starting hospice care soon. I don’t say this to show that now I have suffering, too, but actually the opposite. I was blessed with the absolute best grandfather for 26 years. And, upon receiving his prognosis, I was hit with understanding. My blessed life rides on his shoulders. Everything I am and everything I have, I owe to the prayerful and holy people that I am HONORED to call my family.
My Opa was born into a Mormon family. He met my Oma in Germany when he was stationed there with the Army, and they got married and moved to the United States. My Oma was raised Catholic, and my Opa, who had fallen away from Mormonism, set out to prove to her that Catholicism was wrong and Mormonism was right. However, he was repeatedly faced with the Truth and was humble enough to receive the graces God offered. He received all his sacraments and was welcomed into the Catholic Church in late February of 1994.
Coincidentally, that was almost the exact time I was conceived by my teenage mother. My Oma tells a story about how right around the time my Opa converted, she and he felt called to spiritually adopt a baby. From the time of his conversion, they prayed for an unknown baby in utero. Not long after, they got a call from my mom, saying she was pregnant and was leaving the bad situation in which she lived and was coming home. To this day, Oma and Opa are convinced that the child they spiritually took care of was me. From the moment of my conception, the prayers of my grandparents carried me through.
Since that day, they have prayed for me every day - multiple times a day - in Masses and novenas, and in sacrifices and works of mercy. My amazing Opa went on to be ordained to the permanent diaconate and married my husband and I as well as baptized our first child. And my Oma served at his side, ministering to the poor, the sick, and the needy with selflessness and determination. At every opportunity, they remind us (me, my siblings, and now my children) that they pray for us daily and that they offer up everything they do for us - for our lives and for our souls.
Now, it doesn’t seem so surprising that I’ve been blessed, now does it? Rather than feel guilty, now all I feel is grateful. So so grateful for the prayers and the sacrifices that have built the life I love. I feel an immense responsibility to take the blessings that I’ve been given and to use my life to serve the Lord with all that I can. But, I’m not daunted, I’m emboldened. I know I can do it because of the people who pray. Mostly, I know I can do it because of my Oma and Opa.
I share all this for two reasons: first, please pray for my Opa. Please pray for his peace, for his healing, if it be God’s will, and for his happy death, if not.
And second, I encourage you thank the Lord for your blessings and to pray for those who have prayed for you. If you didn’t have these type of people come before you, BE that person now. Be the type of person whose prayers lift others up and make their lives blessed. Whether or not you have been prayed for, let’s pray for each other now.
Read my Opa’s story in his words here.