Back during the Red-scare days of the late 1940s and 1950s, there was a radio program called “Family Theater.” Occasionally an episode or two will be carried by the old time radio network on satellite radio. It brings back memories for anyone whose formative years lay in that time period.
And it catches your ear very quickly when its opening and ending credits are played. Why? Because the show’s “tag line” was this:
“The family that prays together, stays together.”
When Father Stephen Koola at Sts. Simon and Jude and Most Blessed Sacrament parishes offered a prayer for Archbishop Joseph Kurtz before the archbishop underwent his recent surgery, the notion of the “power of prayer” came to mind.
Father Koola’s simple prayer for healing was a wonderful thought, and it emphasized once again that we sometimes take prayer for granted. We go through the motions.
The “family that prays together, stays together” phrase was actually the creation of the venerable Irish priest, Father Patrick Joseph Peyton. After he became a Holy Cross Father in 1941, Father Peyton became one of the first Catholic leaders to utilize the media to evangelize the population, to enhance his chances of spreading the faith.
He created “Family Theater,” the aforementioned radio show, and he enlisted the aid of Hollywood celebrities and others to make the show a success. They would often offer their dramatic talents for free, and the stars of the weekly show would be the ones who completed the program with “The family that prays together, stays together” line.
His closeness to people of Hollywood made Father Peyton somewhat controversial, but it didn’t keep Pope Francis from declaring him venerable in 2017. (Father Peyton died in 1992.)
The reason all of this history is of significance these days is simple, and the prayer for the archbishop should have brought it to the attention of all of us. The importance of prayer in everyday life is often overlooked. We “forget,” or we get lazy, or we simply choose not to pray daily — until something bad happens. Then some of us turn to prayer as if it’s a lifeline intended only to rescue us in times of need.
But that’s not the way it works. We’ve been told, throughout our faith journey, that prayer is a necessary and important part of our daily lives. It shouldn’t be ignored until times of tribulation.
There are a lot of scholars, writers and theologians who have, over the decades, explained the nature and importance of prayer in words far more eloquent than those of this writer. So here are a few examples:
- “Do not pray for an easy life; pray for the strength to endure a difficult one.” — John F. Kennedy.
- “The function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays.” — Søren Kierkegaard.
- “If the only prayer you said was ‘thank you,’ that would be enough.” — Robert Frost.
- “We tend to use prayer as a last resort, but God wants it to be our first line of defense. We have to pray with our eyes on God, not on the difficulties.” — Oswald Chambers.
- “The wise man in the storm prays (to) God not for safety from danger, but for deliverance from fear.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson.
- “Pray, hope, and don’t worry. Worry is useless. God is merciful and will hear your prayer.” — St. Padre Pio.
So there you have it, in words both erudite and sincere. Pray daily, for Archbishop Kurtz, of course, but also for an intention that is in need of attention. God might not give you the answer you seek, but he will give you an answer.
Record Editor Emeritus