As a military wife of 14 years, I have treasured the opportunities I’ve had to get to know other military families in all the branches of the Armed Services. For the past three years I have been living on a military base with neighbors in the Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard.
Recently, a chaplain who had just returned from Iraq said our Mass on base. He explained that while he was in Iraq he served several thousand members of the Armed Services and most of them had not seen a priest for about 3 months. I could not imagine being without the sacraments for so long, and in a war zone! In this kind of environment, our troops need prayers not only for their physical well-being, but also their spiritual well-being.
I have many friends whose husbands were or are in Afghanistan and Iraq. These men and all of our service men and women are in the thoughts and prayers of my family every day. Whenever we are able to go to daily Mass, I know that one of my children will chime in during the Prayers of the Faithful, “for the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and their families.”
My children also like to pray for a disabled man named Paul O’Brien, who has asked specifically for their prayers. He often tells me how powerful their prayers are and that if children would pray for our troops, it would help them tremendously.
For sometime I had been thinking about that statement, when finally I decided that this Lent I would attempt to set up a webpage asking for prayers on a specific day for our dedicated soldiers, sailors and airmen. This would be a day for all of us to pray for them, but most especially to encourage the idea of children praying with their families. It is this that makes it extraordinary because the children are so pure in heart.
Little idea big project! When I realized just how big, Paul O’ Brien said he would help. He did most of the writing and got a webmaster. I added a few things to the page and helped him edit it. We also got input from two priests and help finding the pictures from a Navy Captain at the Pentagon. The father in the family picture on the website is doing a tour overseas, and I am grateful they allowed us to use this photo.
Good Friday was chosen for this special day of prayer because of its importance in the Catholic Church. As we remember Jesus’ sacrifice for us on the Cross, we can also remember in our prayers the servicemen and women who are making an extraordinary sacrifice for our country.
Good Friday should be a day of silent meditation, even for children. In our hectic world, this day seems to have lost some of its reverence. I recall the Good Fridays of my childhood vividly: my mother always made me be very quiet between the hours of 12:00 and 3:00PM. I could not play with friends, go outside, listen to music, or watch TV. I could pray, read or draw quietly. My mother would also tell me that the sky would often get cloudy at 3:00 as we remember Jesus’ death. When the hour hand hit 3:00 I ran outside to play and see if the sky was cloudy. It always was and I lived in the Arizona desert. What a respect I had for this Holy Day!
I have been encouraged in this endeavor by a couple of chaplains I know on base. They told me of a few Catholic websites and assured me that if I could get the support of those sites, thousands of rosaries would be said for our troops. The editor at Catholic Exchange thought their readers would like to know the story of how Pray4troops came about so here you are.
I also appreciate my father passing on the address of our Pray4troops site to hundreds of deacons. You can help spread the word too. Please take some time to visit Pray4troops and share it with your friends and parish priest. Then, please pray with your family or prayer group on Good Friday, concentrating our prayers together for the spiritual and physical assistance of our troops and for peace in Iraq.
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Elizabeth Flynn is a homeschooling mother of 4, living in the Washington, DC, area.