A few months back, I wrote about my paternal grandmother and how she influenced and formed my faith. Today, I would like to spend the time to write about my paternal grandfather and how he had taught me how to pray for others. And as many of you can tell, I miss them terribly because they were great examples of faith for me. They showed me what it means to believe by their own lives of faith and how to pray by the way that they prayed genuinely and humbly before God.
While my paternal grandfather was still alive, he would call often to check up on me. He would ask how my studies were going and how the seminary was treating me. We would always joke and talked for a while, even though there were times that I had to cut him short due to other obligations. Nevertheless, each time before hanging up the phone, he would always ask if there was anything that I would like him to pray for me. Almost without fail, he would always remind me to persevere and be faithful to the call I have received from God. In similar words, he said: “This earthly life is not easy nor it is perfect. All we can do is to fix our eyes on God and remember that no one else in this world is more faithful and just than He. Nothing in this life is easy but each of us has been given a vocation; and you particularly, the vocation to the priesthood. Be faithful to Him and persevere! He will never abandon you.” The reminder came from his heart, from a man who had lost everything due to the Viet Nam War, who had seen his siblings killed by the enemies, who had been betrayed and who had witnessed many injustices. His faithfulness to God was not just empty words, for his faith was tested and tried.
Even after I got ordained a priest, he would continue to call me often to check up on me. He always made sure that I keep up with my prayer times, be humble and faithful to my priestly duties toward the People of God. He had instilled in me a great sense of responsibility and duty, not to look at them at something imposed upon or obligatory but as a personal response and fulfillment of what God and the Church have entrusted to me. For him, it is important for a priest to be faithful to his duties and to pray for the people entrusted to me. He would also ask me, as a grandson who is a priest, to remember to pray for my extended family, that all would keep the faith, and to offer Masses for the ancestors. My grandfather would always remind me “to remember those who have given you life and pray for those who have passed away.” He taught me well about the understanding of communion, that we did not just come from someone or somewhere random, but that we have roots and people who have chosen to give us life. Therefore, it is important to remember, give thanks, and pray for those who had gone before us — for the repose of their souls.
Often times, we are very guilty of coming to prayers with only the petitionary part: asking the Lord for what we want or need. We might give thank and meditate on what He is asking of us for the moment, but for most of the time, we tend to be too focused on asking for our own needs. My grandfather taught and constantly reminded me of the importance of intercessory prayer, praying for others and their needs or struggles. In his old age, my grandfather dedicated a lot of time to pray the Rosary for the Holy Father and the Church, for the world at large, for his family, for the poor souls, and for those in need. Through his personal examples and teachings, I have found myself enjoying to pray for those who have asked me to pray for them. As a matter of fact, I have a list of people and intentions that I pray for daily as I try to lift up the petitions of those who have asked me. There were and still are times that I cannot remember everything that everyone told me, but I always ask the Lord to listen to those who have asked me to pray for them, for their needs. I pray that no matter where we are in life, each and every one of us can feel the providential and comforting care of the Lord along the way. I guess I have learned that from my grandfather as he taught me to remember to pray for others in our own prayer times.
How wonderful it is to have people in our lives who taught us how to pray. I treasure those life and faith lessons very dearly because they are parts of what my grandparents and loved ones try to hand on to me. I hope you have some similar experiences as well. Let us remember to practice and embrace others in our own prayers. Today, I would like to ask you to reach out to the people around you, asking them: “How can I pray for you today?” I hope that when we recognize the importance of intercessory prayers, those who are in need will find comfort in knowing that they are not alone and that they have a friend in us who is willing to care and lift them up spiritually. I hope and pray that through our prayers, we do not just come before God demanding and expecting that all things be done according to our will; but that no matter what will happen, we will feel His loving presence in our journey. The beautiful thing about true prayers is that we do not pray to change God’s mind but that we can widen our field of vision in order to see and understand His providential care at every step of the way. Through prayers, especially intercessory prayers, we are personally living out the communion of saints so that, by praying with and for one another, we can recognize that we are never alone. Truly, we are all connected and together with each other — in and through God — with just one prayer away. Therefore, let us not be afraid to pray for one another.
So, who are you praying for today?