Prayer upon losing a job in hard times...

A good friend lost his job yesterday.

Actually, more than 200 people lost their jobs where my friend worked. And those are just the stats coming from the circumstances of one person in my life. Who knows how many layoffs yesterday cut loose how many people from their employment, their income, their financial security. And how many last week, last month? And how many tomorrow?

There's a helplessness, a powerlessness about the whole situation that can be numbing, paralyzing. And hundreds of thousands of people are having this experience. I wonder what strain this will put on the social fabric woven of peoples' lives, their jobs, the families who count on those jobs and their communities: the warp and woof of our living together in parishes, neighborhoods, towns and cities...

The economic clouds that hang low over us all dull our expectations, curb our excitement and dampen our spirits. Our faith communities will need to find ways to make more comfortable the displacement and anxiety being lived by increasing numbers of our people. For some, that will mean offering and receiving financial assistance. On a broader scale, however, we need to find ways to make of the parish a place where those who are struggling are supported in prayer and where hope is made substantive less by promises of better days and more by the experience of finding peace in the company of others who care.

Shall we pray?

O God,
every good gift comes from your hand
and you have been generous to so many
in so many ways...

But the times are changing
and things we have taken for granted
are slipping from our hands and beyond our reach...

As the economy falters
keep our stride firm and strong
even when the familiar path
slips from beneath our step...

Renew our trust in your care for us
and in the help that we can offer each other...

Help us to know the things we truly need,
to let go the things we only want
and to know the difference between the two...

As we let go the extra things, the frills and frolics,
teach us to love the simpler things
and especially the simple joys
that bring us together...

Help us to accept what we have lost
and give us the strength to look again
for work and for hope...

Make us quick to help our neighbor
and to accept our neighbor's help...

Give us the grace of a new beginning
even when we're not sure
where or how to begin...

Renew our desire to be close to you
and refresh a spirit of prayer within us...

Hear us when we cry out to you
and give us confidence
that you hear our every prayer...

Help us to trust in you, O God,
"that all shall be well,
and that all shall be well,
and that all manner of things shall be well..."

Our Father...

(The quotation that ends the prayer is from 14th-century mystic Julian of Norwich)