Gretchen Rubin

Gretchen Rubin

My experiments in the pursuit of happiness and good habits


What Did Flannery O’Connor Pray For?

July 17th, 2015

Episode 92 of 540 episodes

Often when I read, I’m struck by something, but I’m not sure why. I’ve read The Habit of Being several times — it’s a collection of Flannery O’Connor’s extraordinary letters. O’Connor is one of my favorite writers, but I can hardly bear to read her fiction; it makes my head explode. On July 1, 1964, O’Connor (who was a devout Catholic) wrote to Janet McKane: Do you know anything about St. Raphael besides his being an archangel? He leads you to the people you are supposed to meet…It’s a prayer I’ve said every day for many years. A week later, she wrote McKane a follow-up letter, with the prayer, which reads in part: O Raphael, lead us toward those we are waiting for, those who are waiting for us: Raphael, Angel of happy meeting, lead us by the hand toward those we are looking for. May all our movements be guided by your Light and transfigured with your joy. O’Connor died of lupus two weeks later. I’ve often thought about this idea, that was clearly so important to O’Connor — the prayer for being led to the people you are supposed to meet. This struck me as an oddly specific domain ...

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