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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. Kevin :

    The world’s financial mess is a direct result of greed and a genuine lack of regard for our neighbor by a small group of people that I count as less than 500. Yet this adversity which we are all subject to in one form or another has made us stronger in faith. God is our rock and our salvation. He promises us that his divine guidance in every moment of our human existence is with us and we can be healed only by true faith in HIM. What more could we need.

    I truly enjoy the kind words and thoughtfulness of the people on this sacred space and will pray for all of those that are suffering from the financial meltdown. God Bless You !


  2. Charley :

    Yes, God is really changing everything for us in these times that “test men’s soul.” I lost my business and now trying to negotiate to keep my house. In the midst of this, I recently had a heart attack and learned something about myself – I am not afraid to die. So now my focus is: Life here is so short, “prepare to meet thy God.” Thank you Sacred Space for helping me to prepare.


  3. Mary :

    This is a great site. I confess that I do not use it enough–my faith has sorely weakened by my difficulties getting a job and now, having been let go from the piddly job I have. I have resolved to pray more often and more fervently for renewed faith, such as when I had when I was young. I think back to something that I heard when I was young: “If God seems to be farther away now, who do you think moved?”
    Father O’Hanlon is right. We have grown so affluent and so spoiled. If we haven’t the money for what we want we borrow it. I thank heaven and God that I began to take the idea of savings seriously–but it is late now for someone my age, and with the market down I have probably lost money. Still, graduate school was a mixed blessing I suppose, since I still live that kind of lifestyle, somewhat.


  4. Marie (TX) :

    I live in a city that has not been hit as hard by the recession as many others, but both my daughter and her husband were out of work at the same time and it was very difficult for them. Thanks be to God that they have found good jobs. But we have many poor people in our large city and the government of our state (TX) has decided not to take federal aid that would ease the suffering of many of the unemployed and underemployed here. It’s hard to understand why poltical decisions are made when people are left to suffer, but it is up to us to do as the Lord commanded and feed the hungry, clothe the naked, take care of his children, especially when no one else will. We are all brothers and sisters in the Lord and when one suffers, all suffer. We must do what we can to help one another.


  5. Ruth :

    Thank you for this beautiful site. I am a realtor and have finanicially lost my income over the past years because of the serious ecomonic downturn. This time has taught me the importance of staying in the day and moment. I have drawn much closer to God through this difficult time. I have learned over these past years to pray something I did on occasion in the past but never sought. Today I pray for others. Today I am learning to be still, and to value the Spirit world just as much as the physical word. I look for God today. I have experienced the love and support of others and learned to received from my friends and family when in the past my ego would not allow me to ask for help. I have learned some of humility as I contact my creditors to discuss my situation. I have learned some of surrender as I sell what I do not need. I see that I have in the past demanded more of my share of financial security and many other things. Today my Creator has become very real to me. This is for me the great joy of it. I have grown toward God and enjoy a steady growing confidence that all is well if I open myself to it. I am learning a new way to live in spite of what I think I am losing I am in fact gaining true life. Thank you and Gods peace.


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