In the past week I have been inundated with stories of adverse events from the Covid shots. A woman who got a blood clot in her arm right after the shot, a man whose existing auto-immune disease took a sudden turn for the worse after the shot and several others. The worst was three young people from the same high school class, suddenly developing leukemia a year after graduation – which has sparked a panic in that community.
Though I am a good month away from having the Brazen Serpent Prayer Cards available, I am going to publish the full prayer for you here today so you can easily print it out right now.
A formal prayer is a sort of Sacramental – a visible sign of an invisible reality. No formal prayer is of much use if it does not truly signify the heart or, at least, the desired internal trajectory of the heart. Thus, if you throw yourself into reliance on God, but continue to act as if you are still the titan, the lie on your lips about what is in your heart will avail you nothing. If I had put together a great security package to protect myself during my pilgrimage and took great pains to purify all I ate and drank by my own means, I would have been living a deceptively pious lie, saying that I was throwing myself into radical dependence on God while continuing to live complete dependence on my own cleverness. My pilgrimage would have been a fraud instead of an acceptable offering to God.
That does not mean that saying a prayer while you are trying to live it well, but are not yet there, is of no avail. I sometimes think that these prayers are among the most powerful. The cry of the father of the tormented son to the Lord, “I believe, help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24) is one of the most moving prayers in the Gospels, rigorously honest in the confession of his own infirmity and eagerly seeking for it to become fully true in his heart. But a prayer must reflect either the reality of the heart or its true desire. Do not approach formal prayer as if you are trying to learn a magical incantation that will force God to your will. Prayer is to bring your will into alignment with God’s will – and the visible artifacts are to remind YOU what you owe to God, not a dunning note demanding what God must do for you.
Besides helping people with the damages brought on by these shots, I think that even as things grow darker in the world, this is going to set off a sort of Jubilee for those who fully embrace God. I believe many people are going to be physically healed of things completely unrelated to the shot – if they first truly seek spiritual healing and healing of our broken mindsets.
I have asked Beckita, the editor of this site and my caregiver during the first brutal 23 days of my battle with Covid, to write an account of all the people who helped – and my attitude in extremis. It was much worse than we let on publicly at the time – and many people were deeply concerned that I was not going to make it. I knew the dangers, but I was convinced that if I would be more useful on the other side of the veil, that is where God would take me – and if I would be more useful here, that is where God would leave me. Blessed be the name of the Lord, who works good in all things for those who love Him.
In the second half of my convalescence, Mary and Mark Lapchak cared for me. Midway through my Novena to the Immaculate Conception, I ended taking all Covid-related supplements. At the time, I was getting better, but if I went up and down the staircase, I needed an extended nap. I tried to balance my reliance on God’s natural means and His supernatural means. I’m sure it was sloppy as all things are when you are deciding in the midst of things unfolding. But I stayed consistent to those things I had thought through before and had already made decisions. I tell you this because, as you make your own pilgrim way, you will be uncertain of a lot of decisions you make. Do your best and don’t worry about it. God is not waiting for you to make a mistake to give Him an excuse to smite you. He knows the trajectory of your heart – and will help grow it into real trust in Him as you go. There are still supplements for other things I take. Do not, do not, do not try to perfect the prayer and your actions as if you can get the details just right and force God to do what you want. At confession, my normal act of contrition is to say, “Lord, you know I love you. Have mercy on me, a poor sinner.” Some Priests don’t think that is enough, others think it magnificently simple and powerful. It is what I say unless directed to do otherwise. The thing is, God knows what is best. I don’t. So I bumble along the best I can, trusting that He will help me as I go. I don’t have much patience with “would have, could have, should have” scenarios. What’s done is done and I mainly seek to know, in the moment, what I should do – and use my many failures as opportunities to grow in the moment as I continue my pilgrim way. Jesus, I surrender myself to you. Take care of everything.
Here, then, is the full text of the prayer:
Come, Lord Jesus, purify this food and drink and all I consume in any way. Let it lead me to strength, to apostolate, and to take the next right step; at all times, in all places, and in all situations.
Lord, let me never spurn the abundant natural means you have prepared for us. Let me take the next right step while never petulantly demanding that only Your supernatural means of protection are acceptable to me. Never let my obedient prudence stray into hubris that I know better than You, thus forfeiting the divine protection that is essential to me. Let me use all the tools You have given to discern between good and evil, knowing that I am responsible to you for every decision I ever make and cannot abrogate them to anyone else under the color of authority.
When I err, Lord, show me Your mercy by firmly correcting me and filling me with resolve to get back up and go forward in Your service. When I have done well, give me the grace to minister to Your people who have stumbled, acting as true brothers and sisters in building each other up to strengthen Your Kingdom. Teach me to want what You want, never to attack the freedom You have given all people, but to convince and exhort in unfailing patience and humility. Lead me in a plain path, turning neither to the left out of anger nor to the right out of fear. Create in me a clean heart that I may participate with You in proclaiming Your Kingdom. Lord, You know I love you. Have mercy on me, a poor sinner.
Use it, mean it, live it.
Prayers for this Easter Week.