Sunday, February 26, 2006

Unethical Prayer?

I'm not talking about praying for "the grace of a happy -if somewhat premature- death" for, say, elected officials or church hierarchs I don't like. It can be entertaining to tease about doing that, but to really do it, yeah, that would have to be unethical prayer. I have a somewhat more subtle ethical problem.

What, after all, can I do for young Thomas? (See a few posts down the page, if you're just joining us and don't know who Thomas is.)I can knit impossibly tiny hats and booties and blankets. Doing that soothes me more than anything else, but babies need hats, etc... so it's arguably useful to him as well. And I can pray. I've never thought of myself as having a particularly rich prayer life, but I'm realizing how naturally and easily I reach for prayer all the time. And when things are tough, it's more often and more urgent.

And not far behind that realization is the absolute truth that there is no more anti-Catholic person on the planet than my brother, Thomas's father. As he knows, I think his arguments lack, well, just about everything. The truth is he's made up his mind and there's no budging him from what is really an emotional truth for him. Nonetheless, there are good reasons that a person could have for leaving the church, and maybe the rigor of his argument doesn't matter anyway.

Is it unethical to ask my parish to put baby Thomas on the prayers of the faithful list? I say that it's not. My brother will almost certainly disagree with me. Of course he wouldn't have to know that I've done it (I haven't yet) until or unless he reads this post. Yet, I want to do the right thing.

I wouldn't be praying -nor would the parish be praying- that my brother straighten up and come back to church and baptize that baby already. We'd be praying that the best thing happens for Thomas. Which always amounts to the same thing in these cases: live joyfully and fully for as long as you're meant to, and then experience the grace of a happy death.

What would you do?

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