Q: Is the Mission of Saint Thorlak a prayer ministry?
A: Everything we do begins and ends with prayer. We pray contemplatively. Our contemplative prayer is our commitment to developing and maintaining a connection to God. Our contemplative action is taking the fruit of this prayer to other people, and connecting to them... making a continuous chain that begins and ends with God, and continuously grows with each person who joins our chain.
This seems like a good time to discuss more about a specific arm of our apostolate, Domestic Prayer Missionaries, whose role it is to pray for those who come to us in need with requests.
Q: What do you mean, "Domestic"?
A: The origins of the word point to these meanings:
The dictionary adds:
All of these senses of the word "domestic" can be found in the way we use the term. The Domestic Prayer Missionaries of St. Thorlak are missionaries-in-place. They do their praying right where they are, in their current circumstances, in their current frames of mind. They can be absolutely anywhere people live. This makes for a beautiful paradox: They are "domestic," meaning, in place; but they are everywhere... thus, transforming "everywhere" into one, common household, and validating our view of humanity as one family of one God.
"Domestic" Prayer Missionaries of St. Thorlak are servants of God's household.
They each also come from this one household, even if they happen to reside in various and different geographic locations at present. Therefore, they are all of home manufacture: God's home.
"Domestic" Prayer Missionaries are very much concerned with internal affairs. Their one job as Missionaries is to cultivate a strong internal connection between themselves, God and each person they pray for. They strive to keep their internal affairs in working enough order to carry on this mission day by day. Yes; they definitely are concerned with internal affairs.
"Domestic" Prayer Missionaries pray from where they reside, and not from a foreign place. Missionaries of St. Thorlak are not foreigners to suffering. We recruit 'em that way, and we're not ashamed to admit it. The world is full of suffering, and people who ask us for prayer are right down there in the mud. We want - no, we NEED - tough mudders on our team. People who are more than just sympathetic - people who have been personally affected by despair, struggle, confusion, failure, triumph in spite of ugly things, misunderstanding, disconnection, isolation, spiritual hunger, brokenness, anger... you get the idea. People for whom suffering is not one bit foreign, but where one resides. THOSE are the people we want to deploy to pray for those who ask for help.
"Involving home or family" - once more, we're talking in very broad terms. God's family. Humanity. The Mission of Saint Thorlak is out to connect people again, through acknowledging our humanity. We think that counts for the purposes of this definition.
Q: Is the Domestic Prayer ministry limited to people affected by autism, since autism is mentioned in your mission statement?
A: (Happily): NO!
We DO expect that some of our prayer intentions, as well as some of our Domestic Prayer Missionaries , will have some connection to one or more of the struggles associated with autism - whether experienced as a person with autism or supporting someone with autism. There are thousands of people affected by ASD, and prayers are always needed.
But, no, autism is not a requirement. One need not have autism to be a missionary of ours, or a supporter, or a beneficiary of our apostolate.
Spiritual starvation does not exclude anyone. Neither do we.
The Mission of Saint Thorlak exists to address spiritual starvation. Letting people with autism lead us on our way.
Q: If you exist for everyone – if you are not only an autism ministry – why is “autism” part of your mission statement?
A: Just as we are students of an Icelandic teacher, we are students of an autistic teacher. The methods of our spiritual patron reflect the processing and communication style of a man with autism. We see how his methods resonate with people with autism, and we want to apply them, widespread, to everyone. It is the principle of inclusive education, reversed. We are utilizing autism-specific instructional methods and “including” everyone else because it is a very helpful format for all learners. We gladly let people with autism lead us on our way.
Could this be a door opening?
If you are able and willing to pray for someone,
you are qualified to be a Domestic Prayer Missionary.
If you know suffering, and can pray from suffering,
you are all the more qualified. No matter who you are.
No matter your needs. No matter where you are.
Likewise, if you would like the support of a
Domestic Prayer Missionary’s prayers,
we invite you to contact us.
We thank you for trusting us enough to let us know, and we sincerely want to meet you.
No matter who you are. No matter your needs. No matter where you are.
If prayer is universal currency, we think this is a coin from which both sides can address spiritual starvation.
May the power of Divine Love shine in and through my weakness, so that He might be glorified in and through me, and that in my weakness, His power may reach perfection. Through Christ Our Lord, AMEN.
Fr. Mark P. Nolette - Spiritual Director for the Mission of Saint Thorlak