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Father Muench Says...

Build community through your prayers

July 4, 2018

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

Today, let us continue talking about community. One of our challenges as Catholics is how we can personally do something to make our Church truly a community, more of a family. So, what do you think? What would you consider something important that you can do as an individual? What would you suggest?

Speaking for myself, I would like to start this discussion by talking about prayer. Obviously, prayer is an important part of Catholic life. Being a prayerful person means that we have a strong faith in God. I hope that you believe firmly that God, our Father, cares about us all. Jesus taught that God is love. Jesus came to be one of us to demonstrate God’s love by living among us, dying for us and then rising to new life. Bringing our own concerns, our own hopes and dreams to our God is the beginning of our prayer. We believe that god listens and answers our prayers.

When we pray, it is important to begin with ourselves. In prayer, our first challenge is to develop a strong relationship with our God, a real friendship. Without that, our prayers are meaningless. Then we go on to remember in prayer our families and those with whom we are close. There are so many personal needs that we should recognize, and this will develop a deeper love and concern for them. As I hope and pray my Catholic Church will be a strong and loving family, I must accept the challenge of making my own personal family more united in love and peace.

Now, this family that we want our Catholic Church to be, one place to start is considering our joining together at Mass. The church at Mass is the beginning of our forming a community. We must recognize everyone joining with us at Mass as part of our church family. We do this best by praying for each and every person with us at Mass. At Mass, I often tell people they should look around. Look around at your family. In this moment, they are all your family – both those you know and those who are strangers. You may not see some of them again, but at this Mass you are family in the Lord. And so, we must pray for each and every one of them. They are our family.

I believe, although obviously I can’t be certain, that there is at least one person at every Mass – one person in our family – who desperately needs our prayers and maybe more. Don’t leave anyone out of your prayers; pray for everyone. Your prayers for the others are an important part of your Mass experience. As we unite ourselves with our God at the altar of the Lord, we are united with everyone there in a special way. As we pray for each other, we are becoming closer together as a community, as part of the Body of Christ.

I would now life to suggest that we extend our prayerfulness even further as we pray at Mass. I believe that as a community, as a parish, we should remember and include in our prayers all the members of our parish, including all those who are not there at this Mass, as well as their families. There are innumerable needs and cares among the families of a parish. May we remember all, including those who are not with us at this particular Mass. There are many who live in our parish, who many not be part of our church, who need our prayers also. We know them. They are part of our lives. They are our neighbors. Let us pray for them, also.

There is one more step in this life of prayer; we can’t just stop here. I know Jesus wants us to realize that all of us on this planet are meant to be a community. Each time you and I participate in Mass, we should remember that we are called to be part of this global community. We should pray for all, especially those who are suffering, and so many are suffering.

We are one people, one humanity – may we one day be truly united in community.

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