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A man in Tijuana, Mexico, holds his son Jan. 3 next to a section of the wall separating Mexico and the United States. (CNS photo/Mohammed Salem, Reuters)

An Encounter with Silence

Loving God,
I come before you to pray for my brothers and sisters,
your children and members of Christ’s body,
at the southern border of the United States today. 

What we read of their suffering
seems nothing less than a Passion for thousands. 
Little children crowded into cells
where they scarcely have room to stand.
Without decent sanitation or food,
separated from their families,
the older ones taking care of the younger.

God of mercy,
I believe that you live within whatever and whoever I am,
the ground of my existence, its gracious cause and hope,
its true future, its blessed promise of eternal life. 
I could not always have said so much. 
But now through your grace I do believe it.

But God of all,
I am shaken in that faith
when I read of what is happening on the threshold of my country. 
Are not the women and men and children there also vessels of your eternal presence? 
Many of them, most perhaps, from what we call the Northern Triangle,
have indeed been baptized. 
But your incarnate Word is addressed to all of them. 
Your Spirit of freedom hovers over all of them. 


Who will speak your Word and give your Spirit to them now? 
How will the freedom and responsibility,
the integrity and compassion Christ came to secure for us all
come now to our country and its leaders
in this time of squalor and rejection,
if those are even words strong enough for what is happening?

Can I continue to believe
that you are more interior to my soul than I am to myself
without confessing the same truth for every soul
on the border in Arizona and New Mexico and Texas?   

Oh, gracious God,
you are silent. 
But give us, I beg, the words and wisdom,
the courage and yes also the tact,
not to speak empty words about your presence
while others of your children,
your children and ours,
are suffering what seems worse than death.

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Maria Leonard
4 years 11 months ago

Thank you...

Christopher Lochner
4 years 11 months ago

It is so sad to read this article and prayer. It is so sad to see the selective love which passes for Catholic teaching. Why has what Jesus represents now only become valid as a hot button issue type of love? We are called to compassion for migrants but not to those who remain behind or for our own neighbors who are here? For they are invisible and serve no purpose of ego,
This appears to be at the whim of church leadership and certainly not from Christ. Seriously, the former president of Georgetown University with a current endowment of over $1.6 Billion is lecturing on love and compassion? Damn it! You wrote this piece so If you are so damned concerned over the plight of migrants with your flowery prayers why don't you lobby for rich Jesuit Universities to take the beautiful and expensive cloak off of their backs and to give to the needy. As a group the money is there to provide ample housing I'm sure. Why not raise funds for the cause instead of to respond with those ever annoying fund raising drives for yourselves? Why not half and half- half for unversity and half for the cause? (Yup, I didn't think so!)
We are called not to give from our excess but to give as the poor widow woman gave. (Pity the concept is lost on the megabusiness known as Gorgetown University.) I wonder if there is a True Presence in church leadership anymore. I wonder if they have become post-cynical and use Him solely to advance personal causes. Does true love exist or has it become instead the fulfillment of a narcissistic desire for the adulation of the masses, as in, "Wow do we look good!" Does love exist when it is not noted in the media or on social platforms? Is to give love only a means of gaining more love for the self?
Give me a good reason why I should be more concerned about the housing needs of migrants and not our own homeless. Why are migrants now such a popular cause but not the destitute in our own cities? This is Christian???...........You've answered my question-Christ is a political football with the goal of His utilization for personal glory.

4 years 11 months ago

Agree. Totally. And very much support taxing college endowments, esp. the big ones.

Michael Gerrity
4 years 11 months ago

Yeah, because that's the problem.

JR Cosgrove
4 years 11 months ago

When the Jesuits and the Catholic Church admit their complicity in the conditions that lead to the highest homicide rates in the world, one can possibly take a prayer like this seriously. The solution is to change the conditions in the originating countries since only a very small percentage can be absorbed into the United States or other countries.

Kevin Murphy
4 years 11 months ago

I've heard that there is plenty of room at the Jesuit colleges during Summer break. Perhaps Fordham and Georgetown could house refugees for awhole? Also, that prayer is quite long and rambling.

Mike Macrie
4 years 11 months ago

There is plenty of blame to go around for current conditions in Central America.
1954- C.I.A. overthrows democratically elected Guatemalan President Jacobo Árbenz's government, installing U.S.-backed military dictator Carlos Castillo Armas, leading to civil war from the 1960s-1980s; C.I.A.'s radicalization of Árbenz set the bar for U.S. to use local proxies to oust "communist" governments.
1952 - U.S. supports Fulgencio Batista's dictatorship in Cuba due to the regime's support of the penetration of the Cuban market by American companies.
1963 - Juan Bosch becomes democratically-elected president of the Dominican Republic, following Rafael's Trujillo's assassination in 1961. He is overthrown after seven months in office, replaced with a military junta.
1965 - An armed uprising against the military junta leads to U.S. invasion of Dominican Republic. The enormous oppression of Bosch supporters leads to 1,000 Dominicans migrating to U.S.
1978 - Journalist and national Nicaraguan hero Pedro Joaquin Chamorro killed by the Somoza family, a U.S. backed-political dynasty in Nicaragua that ruled from 1936-1976. Chamorro strongly opposed the Somoza regime. 
1980 - Salvadorian Bishop Oskar Romero and 4 female missionaries killed by Salvadorian army. The army was trained at the School of Americas in the U.S. As war escalates, tens of thousands flee to US. 

Improving conditions in Central America should be a major foreign policy US objective. To think the Catholic Church can improve these conditions or caused these conditions is short sighted.

JR Cosgrove
4 years 11 months ago

All the Catholic countries of Latin America were dysfunctional long before any US involvement. It is unlikely the Catholic Church can improve the conditions but they definitely helped cause them. The Catholic Church presided for centuries over a social structure that oppressed the masses and thus caused the dysfunction. The reason they cannot improve them is that they advocate social policies that lead to poverty. They should get out of political involvement and back to morality where they excel.

Bill Mazzella
4 years 11 months ago

Semper Idem.. That is Matthew 25:36-41. Especially to Cardinal Burke, Bishop Chaput et alia who want babies to be born so they can be rounded up for deportation.

4 years 11 months ago

So seriously talk about cognitive dissonance. The RCC which is the "church of the state " (so much for separation of church and state) with a 60% majority voting for the administration that has created this crisis is now sort of noticing that there is a problem at the southern border? THe hypocrisy is off the charts. When your candidate declares his candidacy by proclaiming Mexicans are rapists and promises to deport the undocumented and ban Muslims the RCC says "THAT's our Guy!"....because of course they want to control women's uteri.

Mike Macrie
4 years 11 months ago

In the past prior to Latinos having a voice in the US and the Church, you could say the RCC was the church not of the State ( RCC demonized the Obama Administration) but of Conservative Politics. Because of this, the Church today finds itself caught between a Rock and a Hard Place. Not only is the RCC losing their own young White Parishioners but also Latinos have started to leave the RCC to other Religious Churches. This has gotten the attention of Pope Francis and the Vatican. The Catholic Church today is beginning to listen to Latinos not only on how they worship but also on their fight for Equality and Immigration. Of course this has drawn criticism from Conservative Catholics where change comes hard. I agree with you the US Conference of Bishops needs to do more and step up and face the firing squad of Conservatives to speak out against the character and policies of this President.
Do not lose Faith in the Church, but continue to support the voices in this country who fight for Equality.

Vincent Gaglione
4 years 11 months ago

How facile it is for us, O Lord, to rain judgment on others while the log in our eyes prevents us from accepting and admitting the truth of our own unwillingness to compassion and generosity. No prayer, O Lord, is to be construed as political commentary but should rather lead us to a serious reflection on our own weaknesses and failings in the face of Your ideals. Let us not compound our sinfulness in our prayers but rather exploit our prayers to expose and avoid our sinfulness. We ask this in the name of the Father, the Christ, and the Spirit.

Mary Fox
4 years 11 months ago

Beautiful prayer; thank you.

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