By Father Jacob Dankasa
Special to The Texas Catholic
“I thank my God every time I think of you; and when I pray for you, I pray with joy.” These words from Philippians 1:3-4, turned into a song lyric, are an admonition to a cheerful prayer, a prayer said with joy. A prayer that is prayed with joy is a prayer that satisfies. To pray with joy is to pour out one’s heart and mind to God in total submission to His Will. Of course, there are times when we pray with heavy hearts, sometimes even cry, because of a need or a problem. Other times we pray with smiles in thanksgiving to God. Regardless of our emotional state during prayer, to pray with joy is to align our hearts with the Will of God. Such a prayer satisfies because the outcome becomes less painful when the answer does not seem to go our way. But I must confess that a joyful prayer in a moment of pain and desperate need is hard to manage; it needs an outpouring of God’s grace. Indeed, everything is by His Grace.
Here comes October, another month of the rosary, a month dedicated to our Blessed Mother, the mother of Our Lord. This month we pray and seek the special intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, asking her to pray for us for special favors from the Lord. This year’s month of the rosary should be an exceptional one for our world. Considering the myriad issues facing our world today, we need more than ever the intercession of our Blessed Mother. We need healing in our world, especially from the now infamous coronavirus pandemic; we need healing from the racial and religious divides that are striking down our human sanity; we need healing from the deterioration of human decency in words and interactions. In a not-so-cool election year in America, this year’s October devotion is even more important.
With all the prayer points mentioned above, it may feel like there is nothing to pray for with joy. But that is precisely the point! When we do not pray with joy, we hand over our happiness to Satan, and he will manipulate our expectations. When we pray with joy, however, we pray with hope; we pray with the belief that our prayers will be answered. But at the same time we submit to His Will and let God be God because we believe that He knows best what to do; then we can accept answers that are not exactly what we wanted. Our joy will always be complete when God’s will — not ours — prevails.
In this month of the rosary, I invite you – and that means all of us — to pray with joy for ourselves and for our world. For us who believe in the power of the rosary, let us invoke it; let us be on our knees in prayer. In the month of October, there are several Novena prayers that you may want to use, including the Novena to St. Teresa of Avila, the St. Jude Novena, the St. Martin de Porres Novena, and the St. Gerard Majella Novena for Expectant Mothers. Pick one or two of these novenas, or some other one if you have a special devotion you prefer, and dedicate your prayer for the intentions that dwell in your heart. Spend time before the Blessed Sacrament this October and lift your voice to God. We need our world, and our world needs our prayers now.
However, for us to find joy and satisfaction in our hearts, whatever prayer we offer this month must be aligned with our desire to change our individual attitudes and fight the woes that enrage our world by not participating in the evils that divide us. This means doing our part to stop the spread of the coronavirus and to model our political, religious and racial conversion in a civil and respectful manner. This is how we find joy in prayer. We will find no meaning or satisfaction in our prayer if we are part of the problem.
Father Jacob Dankasa is the parochial vicar at St. Gabriel the Archangel Catholic Church in McKinney.