Ora Pro Nobis

I have been contacted in the last few days by several people who want me and the loyal readers of this blog to pray for them. I don't even have to tell you the stories, because you already know them—lost jobs, mortgages due, babies on the way, etc. Now, the odd thing about asking me for prayer is that I am not a great prayer. Like a lot of people who fondly imagine themselves to be “intellectual”—usually on very little evidence—I tend to take prayer at entirely the wrong level. (By the way,“intellectual,” in my case at least, is a Latin term meaning, “doesn't like physical labor.”) But I suspect that there are really great prayers among our readers. After all, reading this blog is an act of faith in itself. And it is on these “great prayers” that we call.

The job of a distributist is to build up community, and nothing builds community like shared prayer. Community is always an act of faith in each other and in God, and does not exist without both. And aside from charity, prayer is the ultimate act of faith. The Jews have the concept of the minyan, a quorum necessary for public prayer. It was for this reason that the Eucharistic prayer summons a minyan of saints:

In union with the whole Church we honor Mary, the ever-virgin mother of Jesus Christ our Lord and God. We honor Joseph, her husband, the apostles and martyrs Peter and Paul, Andrew, James, John, Thomas, James, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Simon and Jude; we honor Linus, Cletus, Clement, Sixtus, Cornelius, Cyprian, Lawrence, Chrysogonus, John and Paul, Cosmas and Damian and all the saints. May their merits and prayers grant us your constant help and protection.

Thus, the required minyan was extended from the saints of the Church Militant to those of the Church Triumphant, the ultimate community. Now, we always get the question, “what practical things can I do to build up a distributist community” and the most practical thing, the thing on which everything else depends, is prayer. And especially prayer offered in communion with others. The “others” need not be physically present to us, just like the saints in the Eucharistic prayer. But the cloud of witnesses is always present when we pray with them.

No doubt there are many who will consider this to be too mystical. We are (according to the reigning public orthodoxy) all individuals and responsible for our own destinies. We live in an age of “consumer sovereignty” where the customer is king, and everything depends on our private choices. This view, I suggest, is the real mysticism, because it directly conflicts with everything we see. Far from being self-reliant individuals, we find ourselves at the mercy of forces we do not understand and events in places remote from our daily experience. Profligacy in Greece threatens the economy in America. Choices in China affects the jobs we will have, or will not have. Actions of banks require us to support their losses. Everywhere this “sovereign individual” is crushed by forces beyond his control, forces he didn't even know existed. Forces we cannot see, things we cannot touch, touch us with pitiless might and power. To maintain the myth of individualism in the face of such unseen forces is the ultimate mysticism.

Very well then, but we have a few unseen forces at our own command. Of course, they are not really at our individual command; prayer is not magic. But because we are joined with each other and the saints, the community claims the right to call upon these forces. We do not know how they work, but then, we really don't know how the banking system works either, a statement which is true even, or especially, for the bankers. We do not deny the important task of building up the individual, but the individual is created in community, and grows only in that rich soil.

The real point of this essay, if it has a real point, is to throw off my own duty of the prayers that were requested of me onto the readers, to summon a distributist minyan to aid our members in need, and to commit that ultimate act of community, ora pro nobis.


Mark Noonan Friday, May 14, 2010 at 9:26:00 PM CDT  

I can't get through an hour without prayer of some sort. I find myself coming across ever new ways to pray - sort of like I am called to be a person of intense prayer. So, with gratitude for this opportunity...

"O merciful God, we cry to Thee for pardon and for mercy.
We are an unbelieving and perverse generation.
We are disobedient, disloyal and ungrateful to Thee.
We have excluded Thee from our homes, our schools, our places of business.
We are no longer worthy to be called Thy children.
Merciful Father, spare America!
Forgive us!
Save us from the scourge we deserve.
Teach us Thy law, and move our wills to serve Thee today and everyday.
Merciful God, please spare America!
O Immaculate Heart of Mary,
Pray for us!"


"St. Joseph,

Remember, O most chaste Spouse of the Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who implored your help and sought your intercession was left unassisted. Full of confidence in your power, I fly unto you, and beg your protection. Despise not, O foster-father of the Redeemer, my humble supplication, but in your bounty, hear and answer me. Amen."

Mr. Piccolo,  Friday, May 14, 2010 at 10:43:00 PM CDT  

Great post, Prof. Médaille.

Modernity brings with it more superstitions than people like Richard Dawkins would ever like to admit.

Del Mar,  Saturday, May 15, 2010 at 8:44:00 AM CDT  

prayer can certainly help people, just like atheism can help others. Distributism is predicated on community and a community is based on mutual understanding and acceptance.

In order to build a true community we must find common moral ground with people of all faiths and none.

Unknown Saturday, May 15, 2010 at 2:35:00 PM CDT  

"The job of a distributist is to build up community, and nothing builds community like shared prayer."

Well said brother and even though I am a pastor I too need help praying. St.Isidore pray for us! And thanks for your prayers John.

Dolorosa Saturday, May 15, 2010 at 5:39:00 PM CDT  

The Rosary is very powerful against the enemies of Christ and Our Lady asked us to pray it. There are 15 promises as well:

Anonymous,  Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 12:55:00 PM CDT  

as one of those who contacted Mr Medaille, this is exactly what I dreamed of. To help me pray (I am hopelessly inadequate) I began looking up the Liturgy of the Hours. When I remember, those are the prayers I use for myself and others. I also have been known to visit the Lourdes site - lourdes-france.org - and a site for Our Lady of Guadelupe. But I believe in saints and the "cloud of witnesses." I've seen things happen in my own life.

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