by Catherine Maresca
Regardless of whether you are serving children in the atrium or online, part of their context right now is the looming election. Children’s prayers often reflect the conversations of the family or community they are part of, and so you may hear heartfelt prayers for a particular candidate, especially in the 6- 12 atria. You may also hear some commentary, pushback, opposing prayers, or even short discussions before the praying resumes. What shall we do?
No prayers should be discussed or commented on at the time of the prayers of the faithful in a prayer service (or liturgy). This is part of the grace and courtesy of this type of communal prayer. We review it every year in September, and remind children as needed. God knows our hearts, and they are good. Even if we can’t hear or understand a prayer, we only need to join our hearts together in prayer with our response, “Lord, hear our prayer.”
We may also find it helpful to consider the issue at an atrium meeting for a few minutes. What lies underneath our desire for a particular candidate (at any level of government)? What are we hoping for in our country with this election? We may find we agree on some points: that we will have good leaders; that the government will serve the people, preserve the country’s natural resources, take care of the common good… Are these things all of us would like? If so, can we assume that a prayer for a particular candidate is a prayer for these good things? Or can we create a prayer that we all agree on and say that together instead of praying for particular candidates?
More than most adults, children’s desire for communion with and the well-being of all people is great. Perhaps we can open our hearts in a similar manner and join them in their generous prayer for all the people of our country.