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Storming Heaven With Our Prayers

Bishop Raica sits in his personal chapel and prays for the intentions of the faithful of the Diocese of Birmingham.


By Bishop Steven J. Raica | Photograph by Mary D. Dillard | September 2021

Storming Heaven With Our Prayers

Bishop Raica Talks About His Prayer Intention Card Initiative

My dear friends,

“May grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and from Christ Jesus our Lord be with you” (2Tim 1:2).

During our Catholic Charities Appeal last year, I invited you to send me prayer cards with your intentions written on them. It seemed like a simple request. Honestly, it has moved me so much to receive your prayer requests and pray for your intentions. The Pastoral Constitution of the Church, a document from the 2nd Vatican Council, begins with these beautiful words from over 55 years ago in the language at that time (Dec 7, 1965): “1. The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ. Indeed, nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo in their hearts….That is why this community realizes that it is truly linked with mankind and its history by the deepest of bonds.”

These prayer cards you have sent me underscore this point so clearly. I assure you I have read every single card during my prayer time and have left those cards in the presence of our Lord in my chapel. These cards represent the “echo in [your] hearts] that resonate here in our faith community.” How I wish I could sit down with each of you for just a few minutes to hear these messages again!

Some of the prayers include your own worries over sons, daughters, brothers, sisters or spouses who have wandered away from the practice of the faith, a faith that you and I cherish. Some prayers are for sick spouses, children, parents, or relatives. Some share the desire and hope to become a mother or father through bearing children. Some are for troubled marriages, searching for solutions. Some are for a budding relationship that is full of hope and promise that all goes well. Some for a deceased spouse or a loved one. And, indeed, many more that are so personal and aren’t mentioned here. Thank you for sharing them.

Yes, the joys and hopes, griefs and anxieties knit us together as a community in need – a community that begs, that asks, that seeks, and ultimately finds an answer or a hint of a response in the presence of Christ who walks with us as the stranger accompanied the two disciples on the road to Emmaus.

This year we have offered that same opportunity for our Catholic Charities and Communities Appeal. Thank you for sharing your life with me. I look forward to partnering with you in prayerful solidarity so that we can storm heaven with our prayers and strengthen our witness to Christ here in central and northern Alabama.

Yes, at times we are looking for answers which come in a variety of different and sometimes unexpected ways. At other times, we look for a presence, someone to journey with us because few, if any, words would be sufficient for some of the pain, grief, or anxiety we experience.

Above all, they represent the mosaic of the needs of all who are here in this diocese. Together, we form a web of concern for each other and offer each other the consolation of knowing that we are supporting each other. Thank you also for your prayers for me that I may be remain faithful to the mission entrusted to me and witness the resurrection of Christ among you.

May our Blessed Mother, our refuge and hope, guide us to Jesus, her Son, the Savior of the World. Lord, in all we present to You this day, hear our prayer.

May God bless you all!

Most Reverend Steven J. Raica
Bishop of Birmingham in Alabama

Grace & Peace no. 19.mp4 from Peter Rataj on Vimeo.