Monday, September 19, 2011

"Deliver Us, Lord, From Every Evil and Grant Us Peace in Our Day.."

Sometimes, I am really glad I am Catholic.

About 10 days ago on one of my social networks,  someone related an episode at his home, when visiting friends were horrified that he kept a loaded gun in the house and wanted to carry it whenever walking outdoors.  This had sparked a long discussion among his contacts about gun rights. I openly expressed my own discomfort with guns - and that I found it hard to understand why anyone felt they needed to carry one.  Based on that discussion, my friend opened a new one a few days later asking women to share how they keep themselves safe.  Many of the women - and the men who eventually joined in the commentary - saw a great need to be armed at all times. One man mentioned his wife walked more confidently now that she has a gun and knows how to use it. Another man shared that with the bad economy, he fears that crime will be increasing, so he is getting a gun because he wants to be ready.

I countered that I felt reasonably safe at home and going out, even at night without a gun. Even though I frequently go into a  neighborhood plagued by crime when I participate in activities at my inner-city parish, I feel reasonably safe.  My faith community has always responded to any threat with common sense and preventive strategies. We look out for one another. No one has need of a gun.  I am simply unworried. I mentioned to the others that at  every Mass we Catholics pray to be delivered from anxiety - and that I believe that God will protect me. I think they were polite, but probably could not understand my attitude any more than I could understand theirs.

One of the great gifts of being a believing Catholic is a sense of trust in God's providence. It is truly a case of lex orandi, lex credendi - what we pray is what we believe.  Near the end of the Lord's Prayer at every Mass, we pause as the priest prays the Embolism prayer.The name, which evokes images of a "bubble", comes from a Greek word meaning interpolation - currently this is:
Deliver us Lord, from every evil and grant us peace in our day. In your mercy keep us free from sin and protect us from all anxiety as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
in the new translation, which we will begin using on November 27, 2011, it is rendered:
Deliver us, Lord, we pray, from every evil, graciously grant us peace in our days, that, by the help of your mercy, we may be always free from sin and safe from all distress, as we await the blessed hope and the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Then, a short time later, we are invited to "offer one another a sign of Christ's peace."

This peace, this delivery from "anxiety" or "distress" is an important part of being Christ's people. As Jesus told his disciples he would soon be leaving them, he said "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you.  Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid." (John 14:27)

This is one of the gifts that Catholic faith can offer to people living in a troubled world. Inner peace, delivery from anxiety.  True followers of Jesus live in the moment, trusting that God is here now, and will be here in the next moment. Common sense, yes. Living as if you are in a war-zone, beset with constant fear for personal safety, not so much.


  1. That's real faith in action!

    I have to say that I feel safe because I live in a small town without much crime but I'm not sure I'd feel so secure if I was in your situation. You've given me something to think about in terms of how I view what I say in relation to how I live.

    Great stuff, thanks!

  2. I am a Catholic on my journey back. I was constantly disheartened by the aggressive 2nd amendment / gun rights attitude and expressions of intolerance that came out of the same well as "born again" and "filled with the Spirit."

    Something just didn't sit right. Of course, this is not to say that there were not others who were wonderfully spiritual. However, protestant church liturgy generally comes nowhere close to articulating the Embolism Prayer that your piece so wondrously celebrated. Now I know why my heart would be strangely uplifted every time I joined this congregation prayer!


    1. Yes, the liturgy is where we learn more deeply what we believe, IF we pay attention to the words. Unfortunately, I do meet some Catholics who have that same 2nd Amendment "my rights, my gun" attitude. I have to conclude that they probably need more formation about what our faith calls us to on this count.

      How one can listen to the Gospel at Mass, pray in the General Intercessions prayers for peace and tolerance, receive the Lord in the Eucharist (and hope in doing so to become more like Him) but still cling to worldly attitudes that contradict that just shows that we are indeed a Church filled with people at every stage on the faith journey and a people who need to be conscious of our sinful impulses when they conflict with the teachings of Jesus.

      Welcome back, Sam - and blessings!

    2. Millions of faithful Jews were marched off to death camps in WW2. Little David had to kill a giant with his gun of the day. God save us from this madness on earth. I will carry a gun.

  3. I was searching for the words of the embolism prayer when I came across your blog. Though I go to church every week I sometimes mouth the words without praying them in my heart. Thanks for such an inspiring message and the reminder to live in the moment with Christ. FYI, I've lived in 2 large cities but never felt the need to carry a gun.