Friday, April 10, 2009

A word to priests

On Good Friday we contemplate, among other things, how very alone the Lord was in his suffering.

While many attend services during the Easter celebration, and while many vibrant parishes exist year around, we know that there is a crisis of faith around the globe. In particular westernized countries have seen a drop in church attendance as people seem to start to feel that they "don't need" to go to church to "honor God" or to be 'spiritual,' that good intentions (and even total neutrality) are enough.

I am thinking with particular desire to comfort those priests who look out and see only a handful of parishioners at Mass.

I know that all of you know that there is never a "wasted" Mass, even if you are the only one celebrating Mass and the only person in attendance. I also know, better than you realize, though, how acutely saddening and distressing that it is to think about all those who jeopardize their salvation and, at the very least, their own spiritual comfort and reality, by no longer attending or valuing Mass. So I'd like you to think about the following.

When you celebrate Mass to a near empty church, imagine it filled with the people who would desperately want to attend Mass, if only it were available where they are, in oppressed, impoverished, or under-served parts of the world. Dedicate as personal intentions in your mind that each available seat is offered up for those people.

Also, think of those who would attend if only they believed. Likewise, have faith that if you also dedicate those empty seats as intentions for those of little or no faith, through the Holy Spirit it will do a powerful amount of good, and also be of great comfort to you.

It is my most frequent personal prayer intention, to pray on behalf of those who will not or cannot pray for themselves, and I find it a great comfort and know it to be efficacious (though results are frustratingly slow to see, I know). This is why I had the idea that if priests as personal intentions dedicate their "empty seats" to those who cannot be there or who are yet in denial and refuse to be there, each Mass, indeed, will be very full.

I hope that you have found this to be helpful. In Christ.