by Sr Anne-Cécile Rupied
We are, indeed, all pilgrims; like Abraham, at the call of the Lord, we walk, alone and together, towards a land we do not know.
In the solitary life I lead as a contemplative of Our Lady of Sion, accompanying others in prayer can take several forms:
Little by little I become a “collective person”
“Taking with me”: in this way, when I approach God in prayer, the people I take with me become part of me and, through me, are brought into the presence of God. As our founder Fr. Théodore Ratisbonne says, little by little I become a “collective person”.
“Opening up a space”: taking a long moment of silence in readiness before the Lord, for example for someone who has to discern an important decision, means opening up a space for the Holy Spirit, so that he can intervene in their life as he sees fit. Usually, we also have the opportunity for dialogue. But sometimes, at critical moments, I feel how important it is not to intervene, so that the Lord has complete freedom. Letting go of the situation, knowing how to wait, is always a lesson…
“Lending my voice”: sometimes when I recite a psalm, especially the psalms calling for help, I suddenly feel that it’s no longer me saying it. Someone slips into my words to cry out to God. I don’t know who it is. It’s the experience of the communion of saints.
Letting go of the situation, knowing how to wait, is always a lesson
“Serving as a reminder”: “Call on the Lord”, says the Prophet Isaiah. Those who pray also have this role. By simply addressing the Lord in the course of my day: “Jesus, you aren’t forgetting so-and-so, are you?”
“Saying a little prayer”: for someone who is ill or elderly, it can also mean saying a prayer every day to accompany them on their journey steadily and peacefully. I like to pray to Mary, in the certainty that she will bring us forth children of light, as she did with Alphonse Ratisbonne when she appeared to him in Rome in 1842 – an event that marked the beginnings of our Congregation.
“Supporting with the help of biblical texts”: I am also sometimes asked to support a pilgrimage, a trip or, more recently, a time of confinement, with biblical passages, so that people can be connected to the Word of God as they live these moments.
Sometimes, someone slips into my words to cry out to God
“Staying on course”: beyond personal situations, it’s also the life of this world, of the Jewish people and of the Church that I accompany, putting current events into perspective in the light of God’s plan as revealed to us in the Scriptures, that He may be all in all.
In any case, you can’t buy God’s grace through prayer. As its name implies, God’s grace is free, as is our life in Him. Prayer simply gives it the air to circulate then settle down… if it wants to!