Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

This morning’s readings lead us to a consideration of prayer. What is prayer? Well, prayer is communion with God. The Eucharist is the most powerful communion with God, but it is one of many forms of communion or prayer. Taking a moment to talk to God during the day is communion with him, is prayer. Saying the rosary while driving to work is communion with God. Reading the Bible or a spiritual book and reflecting on God’s love is communion with God or prayer. The emphasis is on communion with God, not on the rote recitation of words[1].

Why do we pray? Well, we pray because we need to be united to God. Some people have developed a strange notion that prayer keeps God happy: “I have to go to Mass on Sunday to keep God happy.” That’s wrong. We pray because we need God, not because He needs us.

Also, prayers are not magic incantations that cause something to happen. Then, should we teach our children the Our Father, Hail Mary, and other prayers? Should we say these prayers ourselves? Of course we should. But we should also understand that these formula prayers are background music to the symphony of our union with God[2].

Among the many forms of praying, the most powerful is liturgical prayer. Liturgical prayer is the prayer of the people united together forming the Church bound together by the Holy Spirit and with Christ as its head. We experience this prayer most often when we come together to pray the Mass. It is during the Mass that we have the most complete union of the people with God through his Son, Jesus Christ[3]. We experience his presence in Word and in the Offering of Cross in Eucharist.

Some people have formed the incorrect concept that liturgical prayer, particularly the Mass and Eucharist, is just an add on to daily, private prayer. Why do we come to Mass? Why is this necessary? The answers to these questions are found in the very word Mass. The word Mass is derived from the Latin word Missa which means a sending.
At Mass we receive what we need so we can be sent to bring the message of Jesus to the world. We don’t go to Mass just for the experience of the hour a week. We attend Mass so we can both experience Christ ourselves and bring this experience of Christ to others throughout the week.

Every ancient drawing of Christians showed them with their hands raised up in prayer. This is the natural state of people in union with God.

We are not that different from those ancient Christians. Union with God, prayer, defines who we are. Today’s readings encourage us to ask God to strengthen our union with him, to strengthen our prayer life.

[1] Sunday 21st October, 2007, 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Readings: Exodus 17:8-13. Our help is from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. Ps 120(121). 2 Timothy 3:14—4:2. Luke 18:1-8.
[2] For example, we should pray to God to care for us through the Our Father: “May your kingdom come in our lives, Father, especially in our family. Grant us your gifts for our physical lives as well as our spiritual lives. Help us to forgive so we can be forgiven”. Prayers like the Rosary should be a backdrop to union with God as we consider the mysteries of his love for us. The Rosary is an extremely powerful prayer. Perhaps the reason is that the Rosary forces us to be in communion with God for fifteen minutes.
[3] We highly recommend The Lamb's Supper - The Mass as Heaven on Earth by Scott Hahn. You can visit:
ilustration: Sarcophagus with a man in prayer, Roma, Torlonia Museum.

Y entonces uno se queda con la Iglesia, que me ofrece lo único que debe ofrecerme la Iglesia: el conocimiento de que ya estamos salvados –porque esa es la primera misión de la Iglesia, el anunciar la salvación gracias a Jesucristo- y el camino para alcanzar la alegría, pero sin exclusividades de buen pastor, a través de esa maravilla que es la confesión y los sacramentos. La Iglesia, sin partecitas.

laus deo virginique matris