The Inseparability of Prayer and Service: Relay For Life

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Notice: The Defenders of Faith are aware that there has been some controversy surrounding certain organizations involved with Relay for Life and their donations towards Planned Parenthood and similar groups. However, a press release statement by the American Cancer Society claims that there is no such standing relationship between the two groups. That said, we do NOT endorse all activities of the ACS and would instead like to focus on the positive experiences of students. Thank you!

By Abby Leary, Columnist

As Catholics, we are all called to know, to love, and to serve God in this life, so that we may be happy with Him in the next. Our ultimate goal is to obtain salvation. To accomplish this, it is essential we lead a life of prayer and of service. These two are inseparable; a person cannot flourish in one without the other.

Relay For Life is a group that provides students with the opportunity to serve and praise Christ in a unique way. However, before we get into this, I’d like to talk more about the important connection between prayer and service.

Prayer is the essence of the soul. It fuels service for others. As Christians, we are called to follow Christ’s example. In His time on earth, Jesus lived a life dedicated to prayer and serving others. The entire purpose of His life on earth was to redeem us, so that we may receive eternal salvation through Him.

Christ used action to show His message to us. If He had come down to dwell among us only to pray, His ministry would have been very different. Prayer must be accompanied by service, because without acting upon our prayers by serving others, those prayers are empty. Jesus prayed, taught others how to pray, and helped those in need. We are all called to do the same. Each person possess individual needs, wants, passions, and desires. These intimate details of the heart are cultivated and, through prayer, ultimately come to life through actions of service.

Like Jesus, the Saints also lived lives of great service and devotion to others. Saint Benedict encouraged his fellow monks to greet each stranger with the warmth and love of Christ. Saint Thomas Aquinas indicated that service is an extremely important aspect of Christian life when he boldly stated that, “We worship God by outward sacrifices and gifts, not for His own benefit, but for that of ourselves and our neighbor. For He does not need our sacrifices, but wishes them to be offered to Him, in order to stir our devotion and to profit our neighbour. Hence mercy, whereby we supply others’ defects, is a sacrifice more acceptable to Him, as conducing more directly to our neighbour’s well-being.”

Every human being was created in the image and likeness of God, therefore possessing inherently true and infinite value. The weight of the importance of human dignity must be placed upon all souls. Acknowledgement of this can best be conveyed by serving others, hence, treating each life with the love and compassion that Christ intended for us all.

Mother Teresa lived this truth out through her work with the Missionaries of Charity. She once said, “Yes, I have many human faults and failures…but God bends down and uses us, you and me, to be his love and his compassion in the world; he bears our sins, our troubles and our faults. He depends on us to love the world and to show how much he loves it. If we are too concerned with ourselves, we will have no time left for others.”

We are all called to humble ourselves through serving others. However, this does not mean that prayer should be neglected. All authentic service starts with prayer, and all authentic prayer encourages service.

With all of this in mind, I’d like to talk more about CUA’s service opportunities, particularly Relay For Life.

Relay For Life has provided many students with an unparalleled sense of community. It is a widespread fundraiser, operated through the American Cancer Society.

This year, CUA’s event for the group took place on April 20th, on the Law School lawn. There were food trucks, bouncy houses, performances, and various other ways to unite the campus community. The goal of the night was to raise funds and awareness for all forms of cancer.

Everyone has been affected by cancer. Whether someone has personally been affected, or knows of someone who has been, cancer holds an undeniable presence within our society.

A goal of Relay For Life is to support those who are battling cancer, while honoring those who we have lost to cancer. There are a lot of different parts to Relay fundraisers in order to accomplish this endeavor. Typically, they will host survivor laps, when all those who have survived or are experiencing treatment for cancer can do a lap around a designated path, usually a track. There are also poems recited and talks given, reflecting on those who have passed away. Overall, the experience is very moving due to the fact that it allows every person present to recognize the reality of cancer.

Although cancer’s impacts are inevitable, events like Relay empower the masses to invoke change. Thousands of dollars are raised to donate to research, clinical trials, and hospital bills for struggling families.

Truly, this event allows the love of Christ to be conveyed to the vulnerable. Those who are physically and/or emotionally damaged by an illness deserve to be recognized as the beautiful sons and daughters of Christ that they are. This is how we serve others.

In order to fulfill our service with a pure and compassionate heart, prayer must be involved within our daily lives. At this year’s Relay For Life, the Knights of Columbus led a rosary for all those who have passed away from cancer, as well as those who are currently being affected. Incorporating prayer surely strengthened the event, as we invited God into our service.

It is impossible to separate prayer and service because each proves the authenticity of the other. CUA’s Relay For Life event allowed our students to unite under a common cause, through prayer, which ultimately fueled a unique compassion and ability to serve others.

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