November 2023 By Father Stephen Durkee, Director of Priestly Vocations Through this holy anointing, may…
‘A lesson in the power of prayer’
Last month I wrote about Father Mark Bauer and how he helped me in my journey toward the priesthood.
In that article, I told the story of a woman I encountered while working at D&W who encouraged me to pay attention to Father Mark’s love for the Eucharist.
The Lord is good. She read the column and sent me a letter about that conversation; she has remembered it all these years! Little did I know she prayed for me to be a priest. Little did she know I was considering the priesthood. And God heard and answered both prayers.
This is a reminder that God’s providential love and guidance are not just religious platitudes but the lived experience of those who, with sincere hearts and trust, reach out to God in prayer. I wanted to share her letter with the readers of FAITH as it shows how God answers prayers:
The young man bagging my groceries was happy and polite and flashed a beautiful smile when I asked him how he pronounced his name. When he told me his name, without thinking I blurted out: “You must be Roman Catholic.”
As we walked to my car, I asked him where he went to Mass, and I asked him how he liked the new priest at Holy Family. He answered that the new priest was OK, but he spent a lot of time “doing the dishes” after Communion. At this point, I confessed that I knew Father Mark well, and that he was a good and holy priest with a great love for Jesus and the Eucharist.
We talked for a few minutes by my car. Before leaving, I suggested that he might make better time after Communion praying prayers of thanks to God for sending a priest who loved and respected the Eucharist to such an extent that he spent the time necessary to care for it so reverently.
As I drove away, the summer sun slanted into my car windows, and I thanked God for such a beautiful day. Then,
I said a prayer to God, asking him to help this young man, Stephen, to find Jesus in the Eucharist – just as Father Mark does. And then I asked God to make him a priest – just like Father Mark. …
A number of years later, Father Mark shared with me a recording made by a seminarian named Stephen about his journey to discern his vocation. He talked about a woman at D&W, and Father Mark asked me if I was that woman. I had totally forgotten about that encounter and the attending prayers that I had so casually cast out to God and then promptly forgotten. But something about this jogged my memory and it all came back to me.
It’s not very often that God lets you clearly know that he heard your prayers and took them under advisement. I’m so very grateful that he heard the prayer I said after I tried to talk myself out of what I prayed earlier. My final prayer was, “With you, all things are possible. If you want Stephen to be your servant, let it be so.”
All glory be to God our Father, Jesus our Savior, and the Holy Spirit who leads us to pray boldly – even when we try to talk ourselves out of it. This is truly a lesson in the power of prayer.
I still pray for you all the time –intentionally!
With love in Christ,
Aelise G. Little
Father Stephen Durkee is director of priestly vocations for the Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids.