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Saturday, December 09, 2006

Prayers and prayer resources for soldiers

I remember a whinge on MX, a Melbourne daily newspaper distributed free to train passengers coming from the CBD. The complaint was about what was claimed to be too much attention drawn by the recent death of one pilot, an officer, who died in a helicopter accident. The complainant felt that the officer was no more than just another Australian worker, and the publicity for this officer's death was therefore unfair to every other Australian worker who dies during a workplace accident. Obviously, this unhappy person does not understand anything about what is involved in becoming a soldier. This is a profession where personal physical danger is a daily and deliberate reality, accepted as a necessary part of their profession to serve the country. It brought home the sense that PC has really gone crazy. We must make intercessory prayers for our soldiers, especially those on the battlefield. It is with this thought that I am passing this on, as found at Mark Shea's blog (CAEI):

  "Yes, Father," the young Catholic medic wrote, "it was a hell of a battle."

"We were pinned down on the bridge in a wide-open killing field. There were over thirty of them and just five of us. While bullets rained down on us from three directions, I prayed.

"Thank you for giving me the Wartime Prayer Book. I always carry it with me. Twice now, I've used it to pray for the dying: first for an Iraqi woman with her face blown off, and then again yesterday.

"I did my best to stabilize the sergeant. Then, just before we loaded him onto the litter, I prayed the Prayer for a Dying Comrade and then the Commemoration of the Dead.

"After the mission, our whole platoon said the Prayer on Coming Through Battle Unharmed, and then again the Commemoration of the Dead.

"My Prayer Book is a little bloody now, and some of its pages tattered, but I don't think I'll part with it."

* * *

This young medic's words echo those of the old soldier who called me five years ago: "Dr. Barger," he said, "I'm sending you my only copy of The Armor of God, the prayer book Bishop Sheen wrote for us G.I.'s in the darkest days of World War II."

"I prayed with it on lonely troopships crossing the Pacific and in bloody battles on islands whose names I've forgotten. My copy is in worse shape than I am, but the prayers are still strong.

"Maybe it's time to draft The Armor of God back into military service."

* * *

I agreed, and in 2003 I brought The Armor of God back into print with a new name: Fulton Sheen's Wartime Prayer Book.

For four years now (and for just a few pennies more than it costs us to print them), I've sold copies of it to a non-profit organization called Catholics in the Military, which sends free copies to chaplains, and to soldiers, sailors, and airmen across the globe.

We provided the free copy to the young medic who said, "My Prayer Book is a little bloody now, but I don't think I'll part with it."

Indeed, through Catholics in the Military, we've provided free copies to 75,000 other men and women in our armed forces.

Today, with casualties rising sharply in Iraq, chaplains there are clamoring for thousands of copies more.

* * *

But now I may have to stop printing The Wartime Prayer Book.

Although we here at Sophia Institute Press have spent the last two decades publishing faithful Catholic books, including hundreds of classics of our Faith, slow sales and weak responses to my recent fundraising letters have left us with an empty checkbook and more debt than we can manage. Our overdue bills are hovering around $40,000.

War doesn't care about our financial problems, and the devil delights when young men go into battle without the armor of God.

Which is why I'm writing to you now: If I don't pay these overdue bills soon, I'm going to have to cease printing the Wartime Prayer Book and turn all our efforts to more profitable projects.

* * *

You know, the chaplain who forwarded this letter from Iraq didn't include the young medic's name or indicate whether he's still in combat or even still alive. So please join me in praying for him in particular.

But he's just one of tens of thousands of Catholic soldiers overseas who are fighting not merely for their country but also for their souls, while praying for their buddies and even for their enemies.

Souls hang in the balance here -- and the Wartime Prayer Book is tipping that balance toward God.

Can you make a small contribution today to help us keep it in print?

Before you decide, click here and take a few moments to browse through the prayers in the Wartime Prayer Book.

You'll quickly discover that that old soldier was right:these prayers are as strong as the day Bishop Sheen drafted them. If your sons and daughters were heading off into combat, this is the prayer book you'd give them.

To ensure that the Wartime Prayer Book doesn't go out of print, I'm sending this emergency e-mail appeal to 250,000 Catholics, asking each of you to donate $1 at our website or to print the form there and send your dollar by snail mail.

If every one of you donates just one dollar, we'll stay in business and we'll continue to equip soldiers with this strong armor of God -- for free!

That's a lot of value for just one dollar!

We ordinarily sell Fulton Sheen's Wartime Prayer Book for $10, but for every $5 we receive in contributions, we'll ship a free copy to Catholics in the Military which will send it to a soldier overseas.

If you contribute $20 or more, we'll send you a free copy, too.

Whether or not you can donate, please do two things for our men and women in the Armed Forces:

1) Please pray for them.
2) Please forward this e-mail to others who might help.

Thank you, and please pray for us, too.

Sincerely yours,

John L. Barger, Publisher
Sophia Institute Press

Also, have a look at the other publications from Sophia (link above). This is a good source of worthier reads than what you would normally find at a secular bookstore.

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