What is the heartbeat of a Parish? What is foundation? What is so important to a parish that its absence would sell disaster for itself? All three of these questions are really one question, for all of them point tio the same answer. The answer is prayer.
You might think this answer is “obvious” or a “no-brainer” perhaps. On one level I agree with you. It does seem absurd to imagine a Catholic Christian Church that does not pray. More than that, it seems inconsistent and illogical. However an obvious reality though, it is still worth asking if we “get” it, the importance of prayer that is. Why? Well, in my experience anything this obvious bcan easily be taken for granted. Any point that is so assumed, as this one is, can easily be ignored and later forgotten.
This is probably why Christ talks about prayer in the Gospels. You have to remember that the Jewish religion was and is very prayerful. Jewish writing has always been rich in discussions on prayer. Yet this reality of Jewish prayerfulness was not enough for Christ. He did not simply assume it, or take it for granted. Rather, He spoke often on this most important topic Himself, and for the same reason mentioned above. A strong prayer life is the heartbeat of a religion, for the spiritual path upon which we walk. It is imperative for any parish church of any denomination – certainly Roman Catholic. It is for this reason that I typically respond to the question of what Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church will look like in the future with the answer that it will always be what it was always meant to be, and that is a place of prayer.
Prayer must permeate everything in this Church. It is not enough to celebrate the sacraments alone, yet certainly all must be celebrated if this Church is to be considered alive. But you see, “alive” is insufficient. One can be alive and do little if anything. Humans on any level are called to be the best they can be. Regardless of our state in life, there is always a higher bar that we can reach for. The word “alive” here must translate as vibrant! As a human being, I must watch what I eat and exercise often; I should remember that one is never too old to learn, to try something new. Regardless of age, I must continue to contribute my skills to the local community. As a member myself of AARP, I am well aware that such choices are continually being written about in its magazine and other periodicals. One can be vibrant at any age, and more than that, one should be. Don’t we deserve to be? I certainly think so. And so does God! He gives us all the means to live vibrant lives, and for this reason, all that we do must be permeated with prayer.
So, prayer enriches our lives with a vibrancy not otherwise known. What else can it do? It gets us over the rough times in our lives. No life of any individual is perfect. We all know challenging situations. Individuals know it; families know it; parishes know it. With prayer we are more apt and willing to forgive and to move on. Additionally, prayer has proven to be the groundswell of creativity. Ideas come to us. We just are able to figure out new ways to contribute to the community, which in turn enriches us even more band enables us to be more creative yet. Anything else? Our health can even improve! Our blood pressure is more controllable; our ability to heal is significantly enhanced. Have I reached the bottom line now? No. With prayer we set the stage where miracles can happen. An experience so wonderful, beyond our imagination, is now available to us to experience. We come to understand at this level that vibrancy is a word, an experience, intimately associated with awe. Meaning in life is God’s supreme gift to us. Prayer is how we receive it.
Peace, Fr. Walter