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"On the Run" Prayer Group

I sent a private Facebook message to a few of my friends and family on Facebook following a pretty crazy week...and felt like I had to share it here. I thought this may strike a chord with quite a few of you considering the types of hurdles we all face as we get older. Regardless of how old (or young) you are, I am sure you have all heard some form of bad news lately about friends and family battling with cancer, getting injured in war, losing their jobs, etc.

Just this week, I got to the point where I found myself having to step up my prayer life and lengthen my prayer list quite a lot within a short period of time. My problem is that I don't think I am covering enough ground for these people...and feel that there are too many people out there in need of extra prayers.

I came across the Four Men Prayer Group idea and I was impressed. However, I then found out it was guys only and didn't really fit my schedule. Don't get me wrong, this group is nice enough to point you towards a women's prayer group...but even this type of prayer group didn't really fit with my schedule. I simply do not have the time or availability to get together with a prayer group.

I can, however, pray on my own...and often pray for others. With this in mind, I started thinking of how I could start something as cool as the Four Men Prayer Group....

...and so I slept on it.

Believe it or not, the answer came to be in a dream. Last night I dreamed that I was in a dark church in Portugal, praying before a darkened icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Or at least I was trying to pray. I had not brought a rosary with me, and just as I was about to give up and just start praying...I found one before me. It was old and tangled. No matter how hard I tried to detangle it, I just could not do it on my won. I became aware of one of my aunts kneeling nearby and as I turned toward her, I found a small basket full of rosaries. They were all plastic. These weren't as beautiful or as antique as the first rosary, but they were untangled and each of them was a different color. Rather than keep trying the old rosary, I picked up one of these newer plastic rosaries...and proceeded to pray and continued to pray throughout the dream as the scene around me began to change and become more clear. I woke up from this dream, went to mass this morning...and by the time I came back, I knew exactly what I was called to do...an "on the run" prayer group.

Want to know more?
Well, below is morst of the message I sent to a few friends today (as a test run). I am thinking of starting another "on the run" prayer group composed of people that read this blog. It would be anonymous...and I would appreciate any support in getting the word out. Just shoot me an email about it if you would like to join. If you would rather start one of your own...GET THE WORD OUT TO YOUR FRIENDS and feel free to borrow my idea and start a new group!

Well, here's the overall idea:

I’d like to start a small “prayer on the run” group. 

I don’t know about you, but lately, I’ve been feeling inundated by the number of people out there in dire need of prayers. Just this week, a friend’s husband lost his job, another friend’s son-in-law is getting sent back to the Middle East, another friend's kids are being picked on in school, and another friend’s mother suffered from congestive heart failure…and the list continues. 

While I have been keeping these individuals in my prayers, I feel that I may need some help praying for so many people. I don’t know what is going on in your own lives right now, but I am sure that there are people you know that are in need of some extra prayers, thoughts, and help. I’d like to create a “prayer on the run” group for those brave enough to pray at least once a day for loved ones and/or complete strangers. 

If you are reading this message, I feel that you would be a great addition to this prayer group.

I understand that our lives are pretty busy, so this group will not meet up to pray together. It will be more of a prayer network for those of us with who are always "on the run." It will be composed of people praying on their own for each other's friends and loved ones. In any event, I figured that it may be worth a shot just sharing prayer intentions with others in the group for the time being and praying for these intentions as they are posted. Intentions can remain as anonymous as you would like to keep them. Also, you are more than welcome to pray as you pray best. Perhaps you are better at turning works of mercy, charity, justice, etc. into prayers. Perhaps you have prayerful conversations with God...etc. Whatever your preference, your prayers are welcome!

Regardless of how you pray…this group needs you! We all have different strengths and preferences when it comes to prayer, but as a team…we can combine all of these as we set out to storm heaven with prayers for those we know and love. Who knows, we may even get a miracle or two out of this…

How will this group work?

If you would like to join the group, please send me your email address via private message and I will get an email list going (or just respond to this message with an email address). Emails will be shared with the rest of the group, so send me an email address that you would not mind sharing. 

Whenever you find a friend, coworker, family member, neighbor, etc. in need of prayer…email! Let the rest of the group know so that we may offer prayers for them. In return, please pray for the intentions of others as they come along even if you don’t know the person or family in need of prayers.

Also, keep us updated! If help is still needed, let us know so we can keep praying! If you feel that prayers have been answered, please let the group know too! I know everyone else loves to hear good news! 

With this in mind, we will respect each other’s privacy. Even if names are shared, please do not share them unless told otherwise. If, for example, you are asked to pray for an expecting mother, please do not share this information even if you know this mother…especially if the pregnancy is not yet public. If you are asked to pray for someone with an addiction, again…please keep it private. I want this group to be a group of prayer…not gossip. 

We will not be required to meet up and pray together. I know my own busy schedule makes this almost impossible for me. I also stink at organizing things. However, feel free to invite the group if and when you’d like to get together and pray.

We won’t keep tabs on you regarding your prayer life so pray when you can and do not worry about how you do it. A quick prayer as you wait for a bus may be the only time you have for prayer on a particularly busy day…and that’s fine. If you want to spend several hours in prayer…that’s fine too. Do what you can…when you can…and BE SUPPORTIVE!

We will be respectful of each other and those we pray for…and we will seek to become a support group of sorts (because everyone needs a little help here and there). I only ask that this group be mindful and respectful of others regardless of what they share. 

I look forward to hearing from you, especially if you have any comments or suggestions. This is the first time I am doing something like this…but I felt compelled to try it out….so any help would be appreciated.

I completely understand if you cannot or do not want to join. Everyone has their own prayer lives and prayer groups may not be for everyone. I completely understand…so please do not feel obliged to respond. If you don’t want to join, don’t send me your email. 

This is the only facebook invitation I will send regarding this group. Any other contact regarding this group will be made via email if you wish to share it with me.

Thank you and God bless...

Pax Vobiscum!

I need every Saint Jude and Divine Mercy prayer I can get...

I have a little less than 3 weeks to finish the first draft of my qualifying exams. This blog is currently on hold as I try to finish up some mega data analysis and then somehow get a first draft together for my quals. To give you an idea of what my current situation looks like...I slept in the lab for the past 2 week nights. I also spent the greater part of Sunday redoing some analyses. I've been tired, scared, cranky, delirious, out of my mind, crazy...you name it...for the past week, but I did manage to finish several weeks-worth of work in about 5 days. How's that for determination?

I've had the urge to cry a few times already, but have convinced myself that I have no time to cry. I always have time to laugh...as evidenced by the semi-deranged laughter you often hear coming from my lab bench. However, crying is useless. A laugh will get you through the day, but crying has no use in my life. I'll save the tears for the next time I see For Greater Glory. If you haven't seen it already, do so now. It is seriously one of the best movies I have seen in a very long time. Unfortunately, I have no time right now for a proper movies review. (My apologies Andy Garcia and everyone else involved in this epic movie!)

Once the current data analysis is over (and I still have A LOT OF NUMBER CRUNCHING TO GO), it's nothing but qualifying exam preparation at least until the first week of July is over.

As I get no serious vacation (by serious, I mean at least 4 straight weeks of it) for the next 3 years or so...and am aiming to do my qualifying exam in September...I may end up losing my mind.

In other news tonight, I have a new favorite PhD student-friendly tumblr: http://whatshouldwecallgradschool.tumblr.com/

One of the many gems found in the whatshouldwecallgradschool gold mine....
Pax Vobiscum!


Life-changing Lessons Part 1: Patience, Timing, and Prayer

It's been a while since I last posted. I've been meaning to get this thing updated for some time...but there is so much going on. I have a sneaking suspicion that friends and family read my blog...so I will keep some of the reasons for my absence a secret for now. I will say, however, that there is some GREAT news to be shared soon. Who knows, it may even be one of those life-changers.

Speaking of life-changers, I had one of these a month or so ago (okay, maybe two months ago...). Remember how I got very excited about finally meeting an authentic (and prolife) Catholic individual that had MADE IT in the science world....well, I had a chance to meet them a month or so ago. In fact, I had the chance to just sit down and speak with them for what turned out to be an hour. I'm not sure if I overstayed my welcome (I always feel like I do when it comes to uber-famous scientists), but I have to say that every moment of this meeting changed my life.

I am not sure how to describe how happy I was to discover that this person was on the same page as I am. For the first time, in a long time...I had hope for my future in science...because I had hope for the science world. I don't know if I am the only one out there thinking this, but sometime I feel like the scientific world is becoming a world of robots. There's people in the field that do not think twice about the consequences of their actions, as long as they publish another paper or get more funding. I hate to sound cynical, but there are also some pretty arrogant, nasty people in the science field...the people that would love to mold students like me into something that I am not.

Don't get me wrong, there are scientists out there that are still in the field for the right reasons. These people want to explore because they love to explore...not because they have to prove someone else wrong. These people seek answers to medical problems because they want to cure a disease...not because they want to sell a new drug to a pharmaceutical. These people are actually TOLERANT of various beliefs...and do not snub people who, like me, take their faith seriously. There ARE good people in the field...BELIEVE ME. I would have dropped out a long time ago if it was not for these wonderful people. My problem is that I do not often come across these people. I found a great lab and have had some pretty good mentors over the years. However, whenever I am put in a monstrously huge classroom with a huge class...I start fearing for the future. The vast majority of the students are a perfect example of what it must be like to be both "angry at the world" and incredibly arrogant. I hope I am exaggerating things here, but sometimes I feel that some of these student would willingly throw their grandmother under a bus if it meant a publication in Cell (a very prestigious journal that makes or breaks careers).

Saint Dominic, during one of his
"Why me, God? Why me?"
moments
I'd rather not continue on and on about the disheartening things I have seen and heard as I've continued my education...so I will just sum it all up by saying that these things have brought me down...time and time again. Sometimes, I feel like I am a modern-day Saint Dominic. Long ago, Saint Dominic was horrified to see the Albigensian heresies that were being spread from corner to corner by well-educated and well-versed individuals. He began to lose hope in ever seeing an end to these heresies, but continued to fight them. Eventually, the the Blessed Mother appeared to him in a vision and gave him the power to dispel the heresies...with prayer...mainly the rosary.
"Pray my Psalter and teach it to your people. That prayer will never fail".
He was told that constant prayer of the rosary and meditations on the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Christ would dispel the heresies from France...and eventually the world.  Eventually, the heresies were forgotten...but it took quite a lot of hard work as well as restructuring of religious education. As hopeless as Dominic's cause may have seemed to him at first, he eventually  worked hard to put an end to the heresy...and succeeded. He could have probably even succeeded without the vision if he had believed in his abilities.

Before I had my meeting with this Catholic individual (who will remain nameless...because just being Catholic these days can lead to career-related troubles), I was feeling like a hopeless Saint Dominic. I was feeling like I needed some form of divine intervention to keep going. Tired of continually swimming upstream in a world where my beliefs are often at odds with common thought and practice, I had just about given up on even trying to continue. In my weakest moments, I thought about throwing in the towel. There were just so many people out there in need of change...so many practices that did not sit well with me...and so many ideas that would put my soul at peril if I ever accepted them. I was afraid that I had hit a point in my life where I would either have to quit science or abandon everything I stood for.

As I listened to this individual's experiences and advice, however, my heart began to stir once again. One of the pieces of advice that stood out was the idea that I should change this field one person at a time. They told me that it is much harder and almost impossible to try changing a room full of people at one go. This way, these people cannot reflect negativity off each other as you try teaching them by word and example. In essence, the idea here is that you reflect light (from God) onto one dirty mirror at a time....with the hope that his mirror will reflect it back and get cleaned up in the process. If you try reflecting it onto a group of dirty mirrors, they will continually reflect off of each other and scatter whatever light you had to share so that it is lost. Another analogy they used was that while it is possible to pick up one piece of garbage from a clean floor...it is impossible for someone like me to clean up an entire garbage dump at one go.

This advice, simple as it is, is perfect for someone like me. I've seen it in action before. For whatever reason, I am a personal crisis magnet (though my younger sister beats me by a long shot when it comes to people coming to her for help and advice). I tend to be the person that gets cornered by even the most cranky atheists out there after a few drinks...or whenever a group of people hit the "religion part" of a long talk amid good company. Everyone in my life knows I am very religious, so I am often approached by people with all forms of God, religion, prayer, etc. questions when it comes to religion. When it becomes apparent that I can answer some of these questions in a civil manner, I end up having some of the best religious discussions out there. I always hope that some of these people will be changed by these encounters...but know it is impossible for me to ever know for sure (in this life at least). Still, I feel that I have had a positive influence on the lives of others. I mean, no one ever refused any of the prayer cards, medals, rosaries, etc. that I have offered them. Also, no one has ever refused any of the prayers I've offered to say on their behalf. This advice has prompted me to revisit many of the instances in which I have felt the need to help others...and the effect that my actions may have had. The effect that my actions may one day have...

Another one of Pater Eddie Dwyer's genius creations.
I doubt that I will ever have the skills, faith, and eloquence necessary to convert an entire nation. However, I have enough of these to talk and listen to people whenever faith comes up in conversation. I have enough of these qualities to give people some level of comfort and hope regardless of the path they are on in their spiritual journey. I can also sympathize with these people regardless of where they are in their spiritual journey...because, in some degree, I have been in their shoes. I understand what it is to wish for faith and not have it. Faith, for whatever reason, doesn't just happen. I do know people that wish they believed as I do. For whatever reason, however, regardless of how hard they may try...faith just doesn't come easy to them. Saint Augustine is a great example of this. It took years for him to come back to God...and that was with his mother praying for him nonstop. Saint Augustine is certainly a great example of what prayer can do for us when words fall on deaf ears...and when all else fails. His life and his mother's persistence are great examples of how patient we must be when it comes to changing the world around us.

I suppose the first major life-changing lesson I have to share is patience. I have simply fallen into the temptation of desiring instant gratification. I want to believe that I can change the world around me overnight.  I want to be the one that changes the world overnight. However, I have to accept that this is not possible. I also have to accept the fact that I am doing all of this for God's greater glory...not my own. I am not in it for my own happiness, nor am I in it for my own success stories. I am in it for God. As a result, I will simply need to work on my patience as I allow Him to work through me. I simply have to accept the fact that it may take years, decades, or even centuries for Him to change the world through me and many others like me. I have to accept everything on His terms...and on His time.

Pax Vobiscum

Tune in later for more life-changing advice.

In the meantime...don't despair.

 Trust me, there is still plenty of hope for all of us.