Boycotting moments of silence or prayer-shaming?
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A handful of House Democrats recently boycotted the moment of silence on the House floor offered for the victims of the attack in Orlando. Rep. Jim Hines called these times for prayer “obnoxious expressions of smug incompetence” and “an abomination.”  

But are the prayer-shamers right to say that prayer doesn’t help those who suffer? My husband only a few months ago would have said yes. But now his mind is completely changed. It took a recent health scare for him to appreciate the value of prayer.


Fearful of an approaching surgery, my husband became tenderhearted. Our friends and acquaintances sought him out and offered the only thing — the best thing — they had to offer. “We are praying for you!”, and “My rosary today will be said for your health and safety.” Time after time they called, and visited, and texted with the same message. My husband turned to me with tears in his eyes after a couple of days and said, “How good they are to me! How can I ever repay them for their love?” Every promise of prayer was a balm to his troubled soul.

The surgical waiting room of our local University cancer hospital was full of husbands and wives, each wearing the same pallid frown that I was wearing. Our best-beloveds were in the hands of their surgeons and there was nothing we could do for them. Except, of course, to pray. Soon we got to know each other a little, and one brave soul said to another, “Oh, I will pray for your wife!” The floodgates were open and we all exchanged names and assurances of prayerful assistance.  

Prayer is the great gift we rush to give when our hands are empty. When someone in theprime of life is struck down, when the world explodes in violence and people are killed in the name of some un-holy cause, our hearts turn sick and we pray fervently for their families’ consolation. How natural and human!  It is the generosity of the heart to go clamoring to our Father to help our brother or sister.

Prayer is useful as a consolation to the suffering and anxious, and as a proof of affection. The worried, the suffering, the bereaved – they need to know that we are seeking their good and running for assistance. Our times of anxiety teach us that people who are suffering value those “moments of silence” and those sincere offers of prayer. It’s no longer cool, in many circles, to be religious. It’s even become suspect, a sign of imbecility or intolerance. But they say there are no atheists in foxholes, and maybe none in surgical waiting rooms or in thewake of violence either. The moment of silence Mr. Himes disdains will show the grieving that we care for them, and we believe they will surely be helped by the only One who can.

Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie specializes in radiology in the Miami area and serves on the advisory board for The Catholic Association.