Pray for the healing
Pray together for the healing of humanity
introduction to the novena
In all periods of history, humanity has thought that it was living particularly troubled times, so one must not quickly judge that our age is exceptionally dramatic. Nonetheless, it may not be without reason that we are tempted to estimate that the emergency of the present time is especially grave.
Never has planet earth been so misused by mankind. Never have the sources of life themselves been so threatened as they are today by generalized contraception, frequent sterilization, whether voluntary or imposed, by commonplace abortion. Even the art of caring for human life and, if possible, of curing it when it is weakened, has become in certain regions, the art of ending human life, with full impunity.
Never has the family, the fundamental unit of society, been, at least in the west, so undermined legally and culturally by irresponsible legislation, rendering divorce accessible at the wave of a hand and raising to the level of marriage unions which cannot in any case merit that title.
Alongside splendid accomplishments on the social landscape, such as legislation protecting labor and organizing solidarity in healthcare, and many other forms of support for the most vulnerable persons, we are witnessing the fresh upsurge of a savage and merciless capitalism, and in anguish perceive the powerlessness of politics in the face of the triumph of financial speculation. The shameful indebtedness of many states places us on the brink of a monetary, financial and finally economic abyss, which may engulf the most destitute.
During this time, millions of men and women, youth in particular, allow themselves to be subjugated by alcohol, drugs and pornography, three markets scandalously robust, cleverly organized by merchants of illusion. To say nothing of the general stupor of entire populations, deepened by a music without heart, without melody, without meaning, reducing itself to a rhythm as primal as it is loud. The emptiness of the soul, now abysmal, tries desperately to heal itself in an immense escape ahead, ending often in suicide.
Even the quest for spirituality, in itself laudable, strays too often into impersonal mysticisms, in a foggy divinity, where the personal splendor of the human soul dissolves. There, one loses the rare pearl of life, but without recovering it, for all that, in a truth of a greater price.
Despite promising ecumenism, even the western Christian churches have often lost their soul. The salt has become tasteless and one cannot devise how to restore its flavor. We have opened so many doors and windows, for the sake of an inconsistent openness, that the perfume of the gospel has simply dissipated. The holy Tradition of Jesus’ apostles has been dismantled, to the advantage of doomed ideologies. The liturgy is flattened to such a point that many assemblies, to the liking of derisory clerical fantasies, celebrate their own mediocrity rather than the glory of God and Christ. According to the frightening words of Jesus, the pearls have been thrown to the swine and misled Christians unwittingly trample underfoot the treasures for which the martyrs spilled their blood.
And yet, where a hundred reasons to despair assail us, we find in Jesus Christ a thousand reasons to hope more than ever. He who bore all of the difficulty of human existence, He who crossed all of our impasses, even death, by his blessed resurrection, He says to us “Do not fear, for I am the First and the Last, the one who Lives; Once I was dead, but now I am alive forever and ever. I hold the keys of death and of the netherworld,” (Rev. 1, 17-18). He knew our trials and he murmurs to our hearts “In the world, you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world,” (John 16, 33). Before leaving us on the day of the Ascension, but without leaving us orphans for all that, he reassured us; “And behold, I am with you always, until the end of time,” (Matthew 28, 20).
Would Jesus now abandon humanity to its lot? Never in His life! He who, during His earthly life, healed so many sick and reconciled so many sinners, He who affirmed multiple times that all prayer made with perseverance, and in faith, would, in the end, be granted. We do not cry out unto him to make him sensitive to our distress. His heart, pierced through, is infinitely more vulnerable than our own! We do not pray to inform him of our miseries. He knows them better than we and carried them before us in his distress in his agony and on the cross, abandoned by men and even, apparently, by God His Father… and if He asks us to pray long, with endurance, it is not because He has grown deaf with the passing centuries. It is because we, poor, unbelievers, we need time, much time, to finally believe in the omnipotence of prayer. “But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Lk 18, 8).
And if Mary herself has appeared to humanity so frequently for nearly two centuries, if she speaks to us with such perseverance, with such a maternal tenacity, and if she insists untiringly on the vital importance of prayer, it is not because she is bored up there and has become chatty and driveling from celestial idleness, it is because she is committed through and through in the battle of Christ and the Church against the dragon (Revelation 12) and wants to draw us powerfully into her immense intercession for the salvation of the world.
So, yes, let us pray with ardor and complete trust for our conversion and the healing of humanity! We will not be disappointed. For, “all that you ask for in prayer, believe that you will receive it and it shall be yours,” (Mk. 11, 24, and so many other passages: Mt. 7,7-11; 18-19; 21-22; Lk 18, 6-8; Jn 11, 42; 15,7; 16, 14).
May the modest text of the Novena of prayer proposed here help us to ask for all and obtain all!
Mgr Andre-Joseph LEONARD
Archbishop of Malines-Brussels