Column: Lord, give them comfort

Father Mark Goldasich is the pastor of Sacred Heart parish in Tonganoxie. he has been editor of the Leaven since 1989.
Father Mark Goldasich is the pastor of Sacred Heart parish in Tonganoxie. he has been editor of the Leaven since 1989.

by Father Mark Goldasich

I’m still thinking about all the people who just passed by him in this 103-degree weather.”

These words were posted on Facebook by Yvonne, a parishioner of mine, right after the Fourth of July. She was at Kmart in Leavenworth and here’s what else she had to say:

“I was walking out and I hear this voice saying, ‘Excuse me, miss,’ ‘Excuse me, sir.’ People just kept walking. Well, I walk by and this guy (rolled up in the corner) says, ‘Excuse me, miss.’ He takes his fingers up to his mouth and says, ‘I’m so thirsty. Please, can I get water?’

“I looked at him and said, ‘I will be right back.’ I went back . . . and bought him a case of water and had it taken out to him. He had tears in his eyes and said, ‘God bless you.’”

I had an opportunity to talk to Yvonne shortly after I read this. She didn’t post it as a way to congratulate herself — that’s not in her character. The situation of the thirsty man disturbed her, and her words were a way to come to grips with her feelings.

. . . and to maybe make others think. I was inspired by her example: She observed someone in need, spoke to him kindly, and then did something practical — and generous — to alleviate his suffering.

My heart has been heavy the past week. I celebrated a funeral and observed the sorrow of a family who had lost a loved one. I’m still trying to wrap my mind around a couple of stories of children — one confined to a closet; another to a room — who were found abused and malnourished. I couldn’t get the story out of my head of the two sisters in Edgerton, Mo., who were killed in their home and had their bodies dumped in a field. Then there was the bus of Israeli tourists that was blown up by terrorists in Bulgaria. Finally, news of the horrific massacre at the theater in Aurora, Colo., darkened Friday morning. So much sorrow, so much suffering.

Sometimes in the face of such tragedy, it’s easy to feel helpless. My troubled spirit drove me to the Internet where I found a litany of the suffering — at www.four-and-twenty-something.blogspot.com — posted by some Lutheran pastors. While it touched on some issues, I found myself adding more and more. This week, I’d ask you to pray this expanded litany with me. As a response after each petition, say: Lord, give them comfort.

For victims of violence, especially those killed and wounded in Colorado, and all of their families and friends, we pray: Lord . . .

For those who bear the pains of sickness and for all who lack adequate medical care; for the aged, shut-ins and the dying, we pray:

For all who are handicapped in life through no fault of their own; for the defective and the delicate; and for all who are permanently injured, we pray:

For those whose livelihood is insecure: the overworked, the hungry, the destitute, and the homeless; for those who have been downtrodden, ruined, and driven to despair, we pray:

For little children whose surroundings hide from them Your love and beauty; for all the fatherless and motherless, we pray:

For all who endure the ravages of war, injustice, terrorism, racism or any kind of prejudice, we pray:

For those who are in doubt and anguish of soul; for those who have given up on God; for those who are oversensitive and afraid, we pray:

For victims of crimes against life, especially the unborn, we pray:

For those whose suffering is unrelieved even by the knowledge of Your love:

For victims of abuse of any kind — domestic, sexual, emotional, psychological; for those who suffer in silence, we pray:

For individuals who are lonely and long for someone with whom to share their life; for all whose desire for children is unfulfilled, we pray:

For those who feel betrayed, let down, hurt or crippled by others, we pray:

For individuals trapped by addictions, especially to alcohol or drugs; for all imprisoned by psychological illness, we pray:

For those whose marriages are crumbling; for families fractured by grudges, jealousy, distance or indifference, we pray:

For all who suffer because of the drought, excessive heat and other natural disasters, we pray:

For those who suffer through their own wrongdoing, we pray:

And for those who have to bear their burdens alone and for all who have lost those whom they love, we pray: Lord, bring them comfort.

After saying this litany, spend some time with the Scriptures. A good place to go is the Gospel of Matthew: Read the Beatitudes (5:3-12) or the Last Judgment (25: 31-46).

Or, if you’re pressed for time, consider the following: “Whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones to drink . . . will surely not lose his reward” (cf. Mt 11: 42).

Wow, just imagine then what’s in store if we, like Yvonne, give someone a whole case!

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