people and popes at prayer
It was an extraordinary thing to know as I prayed at that time, that popes (I’m using the plural since I am sure that Pope Benedict also have joined in), and people around the world, were united in prayer at that same hour. There was a tangible sense of the people of God united in need of God – at least for sixty minutes. The sense was not just of community, but of communion (ie. what God is doing not just what humans have created).
I had this same sense today at Sunday Mass, and in the Prayer of the Church. While Christians pray in many different ways, for a variety of needs, and in their own way (ie personal or private prayer), Catholic gather for Sunday Mass to worship God together, and to pray with and for the family that is the Church. So even if I don’t feel like doing it, I just do it anyway. Perhaps this is like the tired parents who still get up to their hungry or anxious child in the middle of the night. Some things are more important than the feeling. And this is the sense I also had tonight at Vespers, Evening Prayer of the Church. It is helpful for me to remember as I pick up the Breviary that, even if I don’t feel like praying in this way at this time, this is a way that I can take ten minutes to live in unity with all who pray this prayer at the beginning, the middle, the evening or the end of this day. The popes will pray these same psalms and reflect on this same scripture. Cloistered monastics will do the same. And so too will a growing number of mothers and fathers, business people and farmers, students and … well, people everywhere. The people of the Hurunui District and the Chatham Islands have been especially in my thoughts and prayers today, as every day, and especially every Sunday when I offer Mass for the people of these parishes that I serve. You might like to join in with this “prayer of the Church”, perhaps picking just a psalm or a scripture for the appropriate moment of the day. The Universalis website is a helpful guide. There are some smartphone apps for the Prayer of the Church too.