The Prayer Flare

110921-N-XZ912-085NORFOLK (September 21, 2011) Members of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron Seven (HSC-7) perform Search and Rescue (SAR) jumps for qualification on Wednesday night at Naval Station Norfolk. These qualifications help the navy with readiness and sustainability. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Christopher B. Stoltz/Released)

Our house is nestled in a cove between two mountain ranges.  One in front of the house, and the other behind.  There are popular trails that follow the ridges of the mountains for those who enjoy a difficult hike.

The other night, we heard a helicopter circling nearby.  We peaked out a window and realized a hiker must have been injured and called for emergency assistance.  The helicopter spent some time maneuvering into the rescue area, which was near the ridge of the mountain slope.  It was night time and a storm was rolling in, so the task was both dangerous and difficult to navigate. In order for the rescue copter to find the hiker, I believe he or she signaled them with a flashlight or a flare.

Once the pilot of the helicopter found a good position, they completed the rescue within a couple of minutes before they were speeding away in the direction of the hospital.

A parallel for the spiritual life came to mind:  Those of us dwelling on this earth in the flesh are like hikers on a dangerous mountain trail at night.  We can easily lose our footing and fall into some sort of dangerous sin.  The helicopter is like the saints who “hover” above the dark trails on which we are hiking.  They are looking for something.  But what?

They are looking for a wounded soul to send up a flare, that is a prayer to the saints for assistance.  They long for our salvation and the unity of all mankind in Christ.  Therefore, they are filled with God’s compassion for us and eagerly desire to assist us.  But we must send up a “prayer flare” so that they may find us in this world of darkness.

It is easy to think of the saints as being detached and floating around “somewhere up there” in heavenly bliss.  Or that they are aloof because we’re so sinful and they’re so pure.  But they are not detached, they are close by to us.  In fact, they are only a “prayer flare” away.

This emergency flare takes only the tiniest bit of faith and the most simple words.  Something such as, “Help me, St. ___!” prayed with a sincere heart is more than adequate.

For mysterious reasons we do not understand, the saints play a role in the salvation of each person.  Could God not do everything by himself?  Certainly he could.  But we see throughout the scriptures and the history of the church that God chooses to act through angels and people.

So, let us not neglect to send up a “prayer flare” to the saints, beseeching their assistance every day of our lives, knowing they hear us because God hears us.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

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