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Gerry O’Hanlon SJ, author of The recession and God reflects on praying in recessionary times

I meet many people who are worried and fed up these days. There seems to be no end to the bad news – unemployment rising, pensions wiped out, uncertainty everywhere and an ugly mood of discontent. I wonder was it like this for Job? Or for the Psalmist who asked ‘how long must we wait?’

Funny how that visit to my 86 year old Uncle Rory last week was one of God’s ways of helping me to see things in a different light. Rory lived with my dad and the rest of their large family in a 3-storey house in Hardwick Street, in the heart of Dublin, back in the 1920s. He described how they had a toilet and tap in the yard: there they washed, and fetched water in a bucket for the cooking. “It was all we knew”, he said “and we were happy”.

I know, Lord, that Rory is not some kind of grumpy Luddite, full of nostalgia for times past. He appreciates so much the real progress we have made, the beautiful houses we live in. But he does regret the passing of those other values which affluence has tended to suppress – like the time we had for one another, the kind of solidarity which excessive competition destroys. I can understand better now what the French poet Charles Péguy meant when he wrote that ‘everything begins in mysticism and ends in politics’.

And so, Lord, help me like Job to be patient, to listen to the many reassurances of Jesus telling me ‘do not be afraid’, to imagine a future in which economic growth will seek a ‘richness of sufficiency’ which will respect our planet and the common good of all – rich and poor – who live on it. Help me to believe that this is possible, because in the resurrection of Jesus you have shown that evil is, in the end, defeated. Fill me with confident hope in your love.

40 Responses to “Praying in the recession”

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  1. Bruce :

    I look at the world today,and see war,greed,religious intolerance,hate and wonder where God is. What I found is that my despair is leading only to depression. I got good advice today, abandon myself to God and let Him guide me, for he is there ,I am not hearing. So this is what I will do,I will not try to understand God,but to give myself to him, so he can enlighten me.
    I ask for your prayers to give me strength to heed this advice.


  2. From Scotland :

    I work in a low income job, much less than my previous income. I have a lot to be thankful for. I have a warm house, I eat well, I have my health, my wife and my family. Material possessions are not important. I lost my way striving for them and when times were good I wanted for nothing or so I thought. What I wanted for in reality was the void in my life to be filled. Thank you Lord for filling that void. I wanted for Jesus’ love.


  3. From the USA :

    I have lost my job and is now in what is called a one income family. I am having a hard time finding a job and have been sometimes hopeful and trusting and sometimes doubtful and depressed. Then I read the comments here and I realize that I am still really generously blessed. So what if I can’t afford to buy another pair of shoes to add to the rows and rows that I have in my closet most of which have not been used yet. And do I really need to wallow in self pity because I can’t buy a new dress when there’s at least a dozen in the closet still with their tags on because I haven’t found the right occasion to use them? Thank you for changing my way of thinking.


  4. From Australia :

    I have to be honest and admit It’s hard to break myself away from earthly aspirations and desires, when ever I begin to get a glimpse of the deeper meaning of my existence and to see the real importance of proclaiming and enhancing the “reign of God”, I am dragged back into the “reign of Humanity” by other peoples agenda’s or expectations. I beleive the modern troubles in the world are symptomatic of that very ancient evil GREED and that this human trait stems from our inheretance of The Original Sin.I am glad to read other’s comments and to take heart from their personal struggles and triumphs in faith. I also beleive that the present time is indeed a recurring cycle in our human journey, which (if you look at both Human recorded history and the Scriptures) repeats itself at regular intervals in time.


  5. From the USA :

    The current economic uncertainties and lack of health insurance have caused me considerable stress and worry. I need to be reminded that God is there for me and for all of us. I’m sorry that today’s society has moved so far away from God, the Church, and family. As someone wrote, even though this Great Recession is not as bad as the Great Depression, it seems worse because we’ve lost our sense of community with one another and with God. We’ve also become spoiled. Let’s all remember how much Jesus loves us. That is strong enough to get us through this or anything else.


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