Friday, April 03, 2009

Prayer for the Unconverted

As part of my Lenten discipline, I have undertaken to read Richard John Neuhaus' Death on a Friday Afternoon: Meditations on the Last Words of Jesus from the Cross. I do so in part to justify having had the book on my shelf for years and in part to repent of my antipathy toward the dude. I can (and do) lament loudly the direction his thought and spiritual development led him, but I doubt anyone can deny that he could be a powerful writer -- an estimate that is confirmed in this book.

In his meditation on "today you will be with me in paradise," Father Richard dwells at length on the notions of hell and whether anyone will be there, on universal salvation, and on a proper distinction between "hope" and "knowledge" on the matter. And in the middle of the meditation, in a phrasing of utterly disarming simplicity, he says this (with reference to the widow who persistently nags a judge for justice until the judge grants it): "The importunate widow pleaded against her adversary. How much more persistently ought we to pray for others, especially those who are our adversaries, and God's. The elect are elected not to be against others but for others."

What a worthy reminder as we prepare for the Triduum prayers -- and especially the Reproaches.

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