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Equal to our tasks

| Wednesday, December 3, 2014

I’m not a huge prayer guy.

I believe in God. I think. Well, at least I want to. I guess I’m still working on that.

I like to think I’m decently religious, though the fact that I just used “decently” as a modifier and “I think” in relation to my believing in God probably speaks to a relationship with religion that leaves something to be desired.

So, in short, I’ll pray at Mass and on the off-chance I end up at the Grotto. But even then, I’m “praying” as much to chat with myself as to anyone above. I struggle with the idea that the world around me is changed upon our petitions, that we can save those things and people who we ask to be saved and others will be left to fend for themselves. I’d like to think that beyond this, any God has better things to do than a lot of the stuff that gets tossed in his direction in prayer.

As I navigate my way through my Catholicism, I’m not exactly looking to add another religion. I do my best to avoid proselytizers walking door to door, but once in a while, one sneaks through. In my defense, when you’re waiting to board a flight, there’s not much room to escape. So I took her little piece of paper — my new bookmark for the trip — smiled, and went on my merry way to my seat.

As I opened my book, I snuck a look at the handout, which asked what I’d pray to change about my life. Interesting enough.

I didn’t think about it much until I came across a discussion of John F. Kennedy a few pages in. My mind wandered back to the piece of paper and to something Kennedy had once said.

“Do not pray for easy lives,” he counseled, quoting an Episcopal Bishop, Phillips Brooks. “Pray to be stronger men.” According to him, women, I assume, should figure something else out.

My book suddenly held less interest. I started thinking of ways I could be a better person, a stronger one. I came up with some hopes — I guess you could call them prayers — about how I would want to live.

I’d hope to live up to the chances I’ve had — to those whom much is given, much is expected. I’d hope to live up to the expectations of those who have sacrificed for me and mentored me. I’d hope to live in a way to make them proud. I’d hope to work as tirelessly as my dad and to love as unequivocally as my mom. I’d hope to have as big of a heart as my grandparents. I’d hope to be as dedicated as my brother and as kind and compassionate as my sisters.

I’d wish to be as supportive, spontaneous and outright awesome as my friends. I’d wish to leave as big of an impact on others’ lives as they have left on mine. I’d wish to help kids find their way just as my teachers and coaches did for me. I’d wish to inspire the same fire and passion for learning.

I’d aspire to be as unapologetically optimistic as Christmastime is. In a season of unmatched giving, I’d aspire to give more freely in support of friends and strangers.

Selfishly, I’d want to be a freshman again, to have four more years in this land of intellectual curiosity and unlimited capacity for good.

I’d dream for the humility of the Brothers and Fathers and Sisters that roam Notre Dame, for the wisdom they have shared, for the help that they have given and will give. I’d dream to live my life even half as well as those students around me, the ones I am inspired by daily, do.

I’d yearn for a heart that knows right from wrong and for the strength to pursue right’s cause. I’d yearn for eyes that could see the world’s problems, ears that could hear victim’s ills and a mind that could help find solutions. I’d yearn for the courage of those who protest peacefully in the face of a system they view as unjust and of those who walk the streets day after day to keep communities safe.

I’d hope for the ability to do some fraction of the good that those across the globe and throughout the country do. I’d hope for the chance to stand with the servicemen and women, doctors and volunteers, development workers and clergy, to fight the fires of famine and disease where they rage, to fight tyranny where it stands and to help the suffering where they lay.

Finishing his quotation of Brooks, Kennedy continued, “Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for powers equal to your tasks.”

In a world inundated by fear and suffering and immersed in a conflagration of pain and anguish, I would dream for the powers to help in some manner, to aid in some way. I would hope for the powers that allow me to help set back the tide, to calm the flame and to face the tasks that I and we all, face. And for that? For that I will pray.

Matt Miklavic is a senior studying political science and finance from Cape Elizabeth, Maine. He’s the loving father of Siegfried 4B, which apparently got a section Tinder. He can be reached at [email protected]

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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