Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., visits with children who, along with members of their family, fled South Sudan for safety at the Bidi Bidi refugee camp in Arua, Uganda, in this 2017 file photo. Rep. Smith of Hamilton says he and his wife make it a point to pray for wisdom and courage to better comport with God’s will on earth as it is in heaven. CNS photo/Helen Manson, U.S. Embassy in Uganda
Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., visits with children who, along with members of their family, fled South Sudan for safety at the Bidi Bidi refugee camp in Arua, Uganda, in this 2017 file photo. Rep. Smith of Hamilton says he and his wife make it a point to pray for wisdom and courage to better comport with God’s will on earth as it is in heaven. CNS photo/Helen Manson, U.S. Embassy in Uganda

In her work with hospice, Corey Viola often finds herself in nursing homes, assisted living facilities and physicians’ offices.

During a recent visit to an Ocean County nursing home, she met a man with throat cancer whose mother was in the facility. As they got to talking, she asked, “Can I pray for you?”

He paused before saying, “My mom has been trying to get me to God all these years. Yes, you can pray for me. Thank you.”

“When I got in my car, the Lord opened my heart to say this man needs God,” said Viola, of St. Pius X Parish, Forked River. “I thought of him all day, saying to God, ‘Look upon him.’

“I thought it was a wonderful opportunity God gave me in that moment to be his instrument. Hopefully this man finds his way,” she said, a catch in her throat as she fought back tears.

Viola, a community liaison for Compassionate Care Hospice and part-time Realtor, is among those who say a person’s prayer life can be lived fruitfully while on the job – no matter one’s profession.

Teresa Galvin Anderson is a chaplain with LIFE St. Francis and artist specializing in sacred art and iconography. In her job, she provides spiritual direction, mediates family meetings in the ICU and provides bedside support at the end of life stage, among other duties.

A lot of her work includes group discussions on literary classics with those of all faiths. She finds that for participants who are atheists or value spirituality but don’t have any religious background, especially, the meetings “help them engage in life review.”

“My job is to help them draw on their own faith and resilience to know that they matter and that their life has meaning and purpose and value so they can have a hope for what comes next,” said Anderson, of St. Paul Parish, Princeton.

In addition, she finds prayer and truth when working or contemplating her art. “The true icon of Christ is in the face of very person,” she said. “For me, prayer can come when I contemplate an icon, write an icon or pray about the mystery of the Trinity and then go out to work and experience those Trinitarian relationships in a work meeting.”

Anderson stresses that prayer can take many forms.

“Everyone’s work can be their prayer,” she said. “Our prayer can be our private conversation with God; it can be our calling out when we just can’t take it anymore. Our prayer is absolutely when we … can encounter God in another human being, listen and let them know they matter and have dignity.”

One such person who makes it his job to fight for the dignity of others is Rep. Chris Smith of Hamilton. The congressman says he and his wife, Marie, regularly  pray for wisdom and courage to better comport with God’s will on earth as it is in heaven.

“In my line of work, praying for those who unjustly criticize you means in part striving to advance a point of view – especially during the harshness of a political campaign – with civility and respect and compassion, even when reciprocity is lacking or nonexistent,” he said. 

Faith is also present when it comes to witnessing the atrocities of humanity. “Over the past 39 years, I’ve met Christians – and other persons of faith – in prisons and in nations run by dictatorships who have endured horrific decades-long persecution, hate and torture, yet who like Jesus, who forgave his tormentors from the Cross, blessed those who caused great physical, spiritual and psychological pain,” he said.

In difficult times like those, he said, “Sometimes a Scripture verse can change your life. For my wife and I, it was Chapter 25 of Matthew’s Gospel wherein Jesus said, ‘Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’

“The ‘least’ of our brothers and sisters is of course, situational … human trafficking victims, the homeless, those suffering the agony of drug addiction, persons with disabilities including autism, malnourished and hungry people and so many others,” the congressman added. “All command our prayers and tangible assistance.”

He added, “On protecting unborn children and their moms from the violence of abortion, I strongly believe that our Church and its leaders have saved countless lives.”