Idle hands are the Devil's playground. That was a phrase I frequently heard while growing up. As a side note, for centuries young ladies were taught to keep their hand folded together whenever sitting in conversation or otherwise not engaged in work, in order to discourage the appearance of sinful use of the hands.
Today, it is a safe assumptions that those idle hands are more likely plunged into a bag of Cheetos purchased with an EBT card while the eyes of the owner of those hands views porn or posts on Facebook, rather than hands folded in prayer. In our post-Christian world, the notion that prayer would make a difference in our individual circumstances, or in our global ones, is almost non-existent.
I offer a series of events in the Philippines as an example of how turning away from God and prayer has impacted a country in short order. Understand that there could be other explanations for what is happening in those islands. Of course, the same could be said for any situation on the entire planet.
In December of 2012, the Filipino Congress approved a controversial Reproductive Health Bill that, "Among other objectionable provisions, the RH Bill would force medical professionals and businesses to promote and perform a full range of “reproductive health services,” regardless of conscientious objection. The bill promises to fine and jail opponents who spread as-yet-undefined “malicious” falsehoods about the bill, and would pay for contraceptive services with taxpayer funds." (Lifenews.com) This comes from a country that has a Catholic Population of about 80%. (Wikipedia)
In the 1990's and again in 2006, some cities in the Philippines tried to reinstate the practice of pausing throughout the day for the Angelus. Philippine churches used to ring the Angelus bell three times: at 6 a.m., at noon and at 6 p.m., although contemporary generations only remember the evening Angelus bell. The reinstatement of the practice was voted against primarily because it was thought that it would interfere with traffic.
As the government of the Philippines has taken strides to secularize the country and take a utilitarian view of human existence that replaces the primacy of prayer with the speed of traffic, and the sacredness of life with utilitarian contraception and abortion services, prayer has been taken out of the public square. In the past year the country has been hit by 6 typhoons, the latest of which is being described as the strongest in recorded history. There have been earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and floods. It is easy to note scientific reasons, but Catholics are called to see the signs of the times.
In the Philippines, the change from a Catholic country to a secular one has been shockingly rapid. The pain the country's people is experiencing as a result of the disasters this year in also shocking in the force and rapid succession of each event.
In the United States, our decent into pain has been different. We've had moments of extreme pain from disasters, but those moments have been followed by a numbing malaise, like taking a prescription to mask the pain. Our idleness is not marked by famine. It is lulled into a pensive comfort where even the poor can drive cars, watch cable, and eat to excess. It is a poverty of soul, full of resentment and envy of those who continue to work to support those who no longer do. Workers see the unemployed as lazy, and the unemployed see the workers as greedy.
And neither workers nor the unemployed stop to pray.