Catherine Parish: going through the motions at Mass

15 Oct 2008

By The Record

How easy it is to become complacent about our lives, especially during the springtime where everything seems fresh and bright; the vibrancy of the leaves bursting fresh from their stems and the hint of summer heat at last in the air.

We trundle off to Mass and so often go through the routine as a matter of course rather than giving our full attention to the vital and soul supporting grace that we are told pours forth during each and every Mass.
Certain parts of the Mass tend to become very peripheral at times when things seem to be going well for us.
The Prayers of the Faithful, and in particular those prayers which are offered for those sick and dying, can appear to be said as a matter of course rather than with the full fervour that should be the basis of real prayer.
 It is often that only in times of grief that we suddenly find ourselves really listening and turning to these prayers as offering us hope and comfort during the most difficult parts of our lives.When the sudden changes in our lives overshadow the sky that only moments before seemed of the brightest blue it makes one realise how many of those about us may also be going through private struggles and need our support and prayers to help them through the darkness.
Prayers may not always work visible miracles, and they cannot bring back those who are lost to us, but knowing that those about us share our concerns and are begging God to help us in times of trial is a great comfort.
We may not be able to tend the sick, or change the daily hardships that must be suffered by those in the throes of grief and trauma. 
But where there is expressed and public prayers offered in faith and with a heartfelt desire to bring comfort to those around us who are suffering, it can help strengthen and support those who need it most. 
The ‘Communion of Saints’ suddenly becomes a more real, vital and very comforting belief.
We live in a society where public grief is not encouraged and people are often reluctant to share their sorrows. Most of us are taught to “keep a stiff upper lip” in public while our hearts might be crying out for someone to help us through the private sorrows we are enduring.
Each week in Mass there may be those sitting right beside you who smile through their tears and wish you well at the Sign of Peace, or may be praying fervently while the rest of us say “Lord hear our prayer” without really giving a second thought to what or who we are praying for.
So next time we reach the parts of the Mass where we remember those who have died or are asked to remember those who are currently sick or suffering, remember that it may be your neighbour in the pew who is coping with the sadness and uncertainty of grief or worry and know that your remembrance of them in your prayers is at least something you can do each Mass to help them find strength, peace and comfort.