By Fr. Andrew Sensenig, OMI
Last year I wrote about how I pray the rosary while running. It is a way of dedicating my runs to pray with God on what is going on in my heart and my life. The rosary starts out slow and deliberate and always the challenge is getting my head, heart and breathing into praying the Apostle’s Creed. It takes a few tries, but after some starts and stops, the prayer finds its own rhythm.
Late last November, when we all heard about the terrible news of Fr. Thomas Weise’s sudden illness, and people were asking for prayers, I started to run and pray as I always do the rosary, dedicating it to Fr. Thomas, his family and friends. As I trudged up one of the many hills in Sitka and my breathing became labored and heart and head were pounding, I tried to think through what would be a good prayer on behalf of Fr. Thomas. An answer came through the frantic breaths and pounding heart to me, and it was “mercy.”
Mercy was the only thing that made sense, and so I added the Divine Mercy Chaplet after my Rosary prayers were completed. The Divine Mercy Chaplet added a quality to my prayer run and as the words “Have mercy on us and the whole world” began to sink into my heart, my gait got smoother and my breathing became easier.
As I finished that run, I knew that whatever outcome was in store for our brother, Fr. Thomas, I had asked for the best thing for him, his family and friends…“mercy.” So now, when I run, I pray a Rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet. During the Rosary, I ask Mary, Mother of Mercy to help out on whatever prayer intentions are upon my heart and then ask Jesus HIMSELF to help out Fr. Thomas, his family and friends when praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet. Even as the news come through that Fr. Thomas had died on December 6, 2015, I still pray that the Mercy of God is with him and for his family and friends now and always.
This year as I run in the LA Marathon, I am going to run it in a manner that Fr. Thomas might approve of. I had a very loud orange tee shirt with the question, “Got Jesus?” printed on it. You might not know this, but Fr. Thomas ran the LA Marathon in 2003. He told me that it was fun and tough race. Why “Got Jesus?” because Fr. Thomas was always about asking probing questions in a gentle and forthright manner.
This year’s LA Marathon will be on February 14th and I want to ask you all a favor. Valentine’s Day is a great day, because we take the time to express our love for each other in a special manner with cards and candies and flowers. It is all about love, and as we know through faith that “God is Love” as the First Letter of John states in Chapter 4, verse 8. So before you dive into expressing your affections for each on this wonderful day of love, why not offer a Valentine to God on Fr. Thomas’ behalf?
What I am suggesting is simply to take a moment and offer a prayer for vocations, for the Church so an exceptionally goodhearted and loving person like Fr. Thomas might consider becoming a priest or deacon or a religious.
Please know that I will be doing exactly that as I run through the streets of LA during the LA Marathon. I will be offering Rosaries and Divine Mercy Chaplets one after another for vocations. It is the best valentine that I can offer to God. Even though, there will be over 30,000 other runners rejoicing that great day with me, I will have three super people running along with me, and they will be Jesus, Mary and Fr. Thomas. You can take it from me; they are exceptional running buddies.
If you need a little help here is a great prayer for vocations that I found on the USCCB Website.
So please pray for vocations that day, and may God bless you each and every day.
God, the source of creation and love,
You invite each of us to serve you through the life which is your gift.
May your grace encourage men and women to heights of holiness through service to the church as priests, sisters, brothers, and lay ministers.
Make me an instrument to encourage others to give of themselves and challenge me to do the same.