Tag Archives: blessings of God

Praying at Mass

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Catholics are not going to Mass as much as they did.  People are busy, of course. Some say they don’t get much out of it. Whatever the reasons, US Catholics aren’t going to Mass as they did before.

We have new texts for Mass, will they turn things around?  I don’t know. Better preaching? That would help. But there’s more. We need to look at the way we pray and participate at Mass.  The Mass is the central act of our faith, and we need to bring everything we have– our bodies, our minds, our memories, ourselves– to it.

We’re there to pray, from the moment we enter the church to the moment we leave. Only by praying at Mass will we appreciate it.

The way we pray at Mass is simple. It begins as we enter church and make the Sign of the Cross. It’s a key to a world of faith. Taking  holy water  we bless ourselves “In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.” We are reminding ourselves  that we’re blessed by God with the gift of life and everything it means through Jesus Christ. Water is a sign of that life. 60% of the human body is made up of water, and so it’s a reminder we are being blessed by the God of life.

Water, like bread, is a sign of life.The signs of water and bread stand for the totality of blessings we receive , and we acknowledge our blessings and give thanks through them.

Jesus said “If anyone is thirsty come to me.” He also said “I am the bread of life.” As we make the Sign of the Cross,  we’re reminded we’re at the source of life now and of life everlasting, Jesus Christ. We’re blessed by his life, death and resurrection. We trace his sign on ourselves, on our foreheads, our hearts and our shoulders. We’re blessed in mind and heart and all our being.

So, as Mass begins, the priest leads us into this great  act of blessing and thanksgiving by inviting us to make the Sign of the Cross.

Notice we bless ourselves  a number of times at Mass besides its beginning.  We bless ourselves as the gospel is proclaimed, asking that our minds and hearts be blessed to hear God’s Word. We bless ourselves as we leave the church at the end of the Mass, because we carry God’s blessings to our world.

Besides the Sign of the Cross,  simple acclamations at Mass  draw us into this blessed mystery. So,  as the priest concludes a prayer or action, we often say “Amen” an ancient Hebrew word, which means “Yes” we agree. The “Amen” at Mass calls us into the blessing of God. Simple word like “Amen”  draw us to the prayer of the church.

“The Lord be with you.” “Lift up your hearts.” “Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.”

Listen carefully to those words and the readings, the songs and the music at Mass. Say them and mean them. Sing them when they’re sung, for“Someone who sings well prays twice.” So we join our voices in song. At Mass we pray together.

We pray with our eyes, too, as we see the actions and signs of Mass. Walking, kneeling, standing are prayers. Simple actions, like bowing and offering our hand to receive the Host are prayers. At Mass we pray with our whole being. Our walking, seeing, listening, speaking become acts of prayer that bring us into the presence of God.

Of course, we often come to Mass with a lot of things on our mind that distract us from this great mystery. So often we’re on overload. Our faith may not be the strongest. We have our doubts. We get sunk in the everydayness of our own lives.

But God’s grace is here in this great mystery and God will draw us–weak as we are–into this great mystery.  God will give us– all of us– the gift to pray and find blessings here. God draws us here to bless us.

The Weather of God’s Blessings

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The first reading from today’s Lenten Mass describes God’s blessings in terms of the weather.

“Just as from the heavens

the rain and snow come down, and do not return there

till they have watered the earth,

making it fertile and fruitful,

Giving seed to the one who sows

and bread to the one who eats,

So shall my word be

that goes forth from my mouth;

It shall not return to me void,

but shall do my will,

achieving the end for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55,10)

Can this reading help us understand how God blesses us?  Like rain or snow God’s blessings come, making our lives fruitful. Yes, they will surely come, but how about the times we have to wait, when no rain or snow comes at all?

God’s blessings are like the weather.

Or think of God’s blessings through the Sign of the Cross. We say “we bless ourselves” when we make this sign. Sometimes God’s blessing comes through the cross of glory and we receive blessings never imagined through his tender mercy.

Sometimes his blessings takes another form of his cross; disappointment, suffering, failure, sickness, death. There God’s blessings are mostly hidden and hard to see.

In Matthew’s gospel today Jesus offers us a way of praying. Does this blessing also follow the weather. Prayer is a gift, but it’s a gift like the rain and snow. It’s one of God’s greatest gifts to us, yet sometimes we find it hard to pray while at other times it wells up within us.

The blessings of God are like the weather.