August 15, 2014

Editorial

Sharing the gift of prayer both locally and globally

Continued deadly fighting between Hamas and Israel. The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) forcing non-Muslims to literally run for their lives in northern Iraq. A potential growing Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Continued high tensions between Ukraine and Russia.

It seems no matter where we turn in the world, there is a reason to pray for humankind.

And those prayers are needed here in the United States, too.

We know about the humanitarian crisis involving unaccompanied minors coming to our country from mainly El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, and the impasse in Congress—which is now on its summer recess—to address this situation. President Barack Obama has threatened to use executive action, but will that provide a sufficient response to what many view as a long-term challenge?

Violence in cities such as Chicago, St. Louis, and yes, even Indianapolis, has left local officials wondering how to bring peace to many in the communities who desperately seek it—especially for the sake of our children.

But something that may not make national headlines in secular media outlets in the next month is another attack on the Catholic Church.

As reported by Catholic News Service, Archbishop Paul S. Coakley has asked Catholics to offer prayer and penance to prevent a Satanic group from holding a “black mass” on Sept. 21 at the Civic Center Music Hall in Oklahoma City.

“Even though tickets are being sold for this event as if it were merely some sort of dark entertainment, this Satanic ritual is deadly serious. It is a blasphemous and obscene inversion of the Catholic Mass,” said the Oklahoma City archbishop.

“Using a consecrated host obtained illicitly from a Catholic church and desecrating it in the vilest ways imaginable, the practitioners offer it in sacrifice to Satan,” he said. “This terrible sacrilege is a deliberate attack on the Catholic Mass as well as the foundational beliefs of all Christians.”

This isn’t the first time the Catholic Church has been attacked and, sadly, it probably won’t be the last.

Late-night TV hosts such as Bill Maher and others do it on a regular basis. And in May, a Harvard University student group’s plan to conduct a satanic ritual black mass on campus brought a public outcry, which led to its formal cancellation and an apparently impromptu off-campus version of the event, as well as a well-attended alternative Catholic holy hour.

The planned event had drawn wide criticism from religious leaders, including Boston Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley, as well as students, alumni and faculty at Harvard.

Though the critical response helped in that case, we are certain prayers offered in response to the planned black mass played a part in changing minds and converting hearts.

Archbishop Coakley, who has made his concerns known to Oklahoma City officials about “the misuse of a publicly supported facility for an event which has no other purpose than mocking the Catholic faith,” is asking local Catholics “to counteract this challenge to faith and decency through prayer and penance.”

We can join in those prayers, too. He has called for a united campaign of prayer, procession and Benediction in response to the black mass. He specifically asked that the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel be included at the conclusion of every Mass from the feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord, which was on Aug. 6, and continue through the feast of the Archangels, on Sept. 29.

The archbishop also asked parishes in his archdiocese to hold a eucharistic Holy Hour with Benediction between Aug. 15, the feast of the Assumption, and Sept. 21.

Prayer is one of the greatest gifts we can share with others in need.

Whether it’s Christians halfway around the world being asked to renounce their faith or die, or Catholics fighting to keep our faith from being mocked by a Satanic group, we can offer petitions for our brethren in need.

And we must always remember, we don’t pray for others because they are Catholic. We pray for them because we are Catholic.

—Mike Krokos

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