When tragedy strikes, Catholicism shines
There’s no avoiding it. No matter who you are or where you live, at some point you will have trouble. Conflicts arise, loved ones die, and horrific events such as school shootings puncture our otherwise peaceful lives.
When tragedy strikes, Catholicism shines. I’ve seen Catholics with peace while battling
the late stages of cancer, with strength through dire circumstances, and with hope where
there was no hope. In my mind, that’s what makes this religion so great: It leads the marginalized, afflicted, and grieved to find belonging, solace, and encouragement.
It’s important to learn that we can turn to God in times of distress. Often people get angry at God when things don’t go their way. Instead of raging, do the opposite. Seek the God of the brokenhearted. We aren’t meant to weather the storms on our own. We take refuge in the mighty fortress of God’s love. There we’ll find the peace so many have known and relied on for centuries.
This is a prayer service to use in times of trouble or sadness. These songs and Scriptures will give encouragement in moments when we might be tempted to despair, so we can lean on the one who can truly ease our worries. Pro tip: Consider taking your class to the church, lighting a candle, and doing this service there. It lends a prayerful atmosphere, and the lighted candle makes a great object lesson.
Leader: Heavenly Father, look with compassion on us, your children. We feel overwhelmed by [name of tragic event/reason for prayer] and need your peace. Lord, we know you are always with us, especially in times of anguish and sorrow. You are our strong tower, our refuge of hope, our deliverer. Give us strength. Help us to endure and overcome our worry/grief.
Here are four songs that speak about turning to God in hard times. Links to lyric videos are provided. The first is the best direct fit. However, the second is my favorite Christian song of all time. It’s so beautiful and inspiring that I had to include it … and it’s also a great fit.
The other two also work quite well.
■ “Cry Out to Jesus,” Third Day: See CATmag.us/2OS22B0.
■ “Oceans (Where Feet May Fail),” Hillsong UNITED: See CATmag.us/2APNTBo.
■ “Praise You in This Storm,” Casting Crowns: See CATmag.us/2M83yAo.
■ “Just Be Held,” Casting Crowns: See CATmag.us/2vNz5gM.
Psalm 55:1-2, 4-8, 16-18, 22, and 23b I recommend dividing the psalm by verses as indicated above, with the antiphon in between.
Antiphon: Leave your troubles with the Lord and he will defend you.
With this reading, emphasize that God has our backs. No matter how bad things look or how difficult it gets, God has a hope-filled plan for our welfare. We only need to trust in him. Have an older student read the passage aloud. Consider a kid-friendly translation for young students.
Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know well the plans I have in mind for you — oracle of the LORD — plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope.”
Catechist or leader recites the petition; students respond with, “Lord, hear our prayer.”
That the brokenhearted will have their strength renewed as they wait upon God. ℟
That those who experience tragedy will know with God all things are possible. ℟.
For those who doubt when times are tough, that they will trust in your hope-filled plan for their future. ℟.
For those who mourn the death of a loved one. Give them comfort and help them endure their pain. ℟.
That the weary and burdened will find rest in your arms. ℟.
For all those who are overwhelmed by sadness and difficulty. Help them be of good courage and not fear. Give them the assurance of your presence and love. ℟.
Leader: Father of steadfast love and mercy, hear our prayers for comfort and strength in this time of trial. We know there is no need for fear or discouragement because you are with us. You are a refuge for the oppressed and a stronghold in times of trouble. You sent the Holy Spirit to give us a peace like no other. Send us this peace and heal our hearts today. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
Marc Cardaronella, MA, is director of the Office of Discipleship and Faith Formation in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph. He is author of Keep Your Kids Catholic: Sharing Your Faith and Making It Stick and blogs at MarcCardaronella.com.
This article was originally published in Catechist magazine, October 2018.
PHOTO: ANDY MUMFORD/SHUTTERSTOCK