William Kurelek's painting of a Madonna House poustinia

How to Pray for Everyone

Fr. Denis Lemieux

I have been doing the column “Word Made Flesh” for a few months now, reflecting on the Sunday readings, but I thought it would be good from time to time to share some of the words and insights I am gaining from my life in poustinia.

Catherine Doherty always emphasized that the poustinik was to share whatever the Lord was giving him or her, that the insights we derive from our time alone with the Lord were not merely words given for the individual.

When I moved into poustinia last June, the first word given me was the word intercession. It was immediately made clear to me that I was not just in there for my own benefit and spiritual growth, but to pray for the world.

I have come to believe that to a large degree the terrible mess and tragedy that we behold on so many fronts and in so many corners of the earth are due to the simple fact that people of faith are not praying as much as we should. Of course I cannot prove that to be the case, but I am convicted of it myself.

Well, how can we pray for “all that,” whatever “that” is? All the countries locked in endless wars, the cultural disintegration in the secular West, endemic poverty, horrific sufferings both personal and communal: it’s all too much, right?

Sometimes we can lag in prayer because it just seems overwhelming—the needs too great, we so small.

In poustinia, I have come up with a way of praying for everyone that I would like to share with you all. It uses a familiar form of prayer—the rosary—and distributes among the various mysteries the whole human race.

On my poustinia days, I do all twenty decades of the rosary (hey, I have time, and it is after all what I’m there for) as one component—not the only one—of my intercessory prayer there.

I like this way of praying, not only because it includes everyone, but also because (in my view), it orders our prayers towards asking for the right things.

So let me share with you what I do, in brief:

The Joyful Mysteries: These I offer for those people who are my principal spiritual responsibility. In my case, these are my spiritual directees. For you it may be your immediate blood family, your children and grandchildren. For a parish priest it might be his parishioners. And this is what I pray for them:

The Annunciation—that each of them will say a total “fiat”—let it be done—to whatever God is asking of them and offering them.

The Visitation—that each will grow in love of neighbor, generosity of service, and apostolic zeal.

The Nativity—that each will become the saints of God they are made to be; that is, that each will, by God’s grace, bring forth from their flesh, Christ as a gift for the world.

The Presentation—that each will obey the moral law and the laws of the Church no matter what sacrifice this asks of them.

The Finding—that each will in the end “find” Jesus and spend eternity in his house.

The Sorrowful Mysteries: These I offer for the next circle of people who are my immediate concern. For me, this is the members of Madonna House; for many it may be your local parish or community; for a priest, it may be your diocese. And this is what I pray for them:

The Agony—that each will say with Jesus to the Father, “thy will be done.”

The Scourging—that each will accept whatever suffering is given them in life as an offering with Christ for the world.

The Crowning—that all of them will be one in mind and heart through the deep surrender of their intellects to God and their embrace of holy humility.

The Carrying of the Cross—that each will persevere day by day in fidelity to the duty of the moment and love of neighbor.

The Crucifixion—that each will persevere to the end and so enter heaven by the blood of the Lamb.

The Glorious Mysteries: These I offer for the world, praying thus:

The Resurrection—that the victory of Christ shine on all human hearts, especially those most lost in mortal sin or deep affliction of spirit.

The Ascension—for all people who exercise great power, for world leaders and all in high places, that they be submitted to the authority of the Ascended Lord in all things.

The Descent of the Spirit—that the Spirit be poured out, especially on all men and women of good will, to purify, illuminate, and unite all into working for what is truly good and right in the world.

The Assumption—for all who are about to die, for the grace of a happy death.

The Queenship of Mary—for all the poorest, the most wretched and afflicted of the world, Our Lady’s most beloved children.

The Luminous Mysteries: I offer this late addition to the rosary for the Church, praying thus:

The Baptism—for all the baptized, that we become true disciples of Christ, and especially for all those who have left the Church, that they return.

Cana—for all married couples, especially those struggling in their marriages, or who have strayed far from the vocation of Christian marriage.

The Proclamation of the Kingdom—for all bishops and the graces they need to fulfill their apostolic mission in truth and in love.

The Transfiguration—for all consecrated persons, that they radiate the beauty and light of Christ through their total dedication to him.

The Institution of the Eucharist—for all priests, that we become holy servants of God’s mysteries.

So that’s what I do, anyway! Of course on the days I am not in poustinia, I don’t get all twenty decades done, but pray whatever the rosary of the day is for those specific intentions.

It is not the only intercessory prayer I do—like everyone else, I have my prayer list, and it is a long one. But I have found this to be a way to truly cover the whole world and everyone in it with a mantle of prayer and intercession.

It is a way to truly pray for everyone, and to pray particularly for what everyone really needs, which is God and his saving love and grace.

Some days I may expand these intentions, or specify particular individuals who may need them more intensely, but that is my basic structure for the rosary, and I offer it to all of you.

May we all pray for the world ever more earnestly and intently in this year 2017, when it needs our prayers so badly.