What does going to Sunday Mass mean to you?

Going to Mass by Inger Jirby

A while ago, I posed a question in my letter in the Sunday bulletin: "What does going to Sunday Mass mean to you?" I published excerpts from the responses I received but there was one lengthy response I thought should be printed in its entirety. This is from a young dad in the parish who shares freely his personal circumstances and his prayer life. Keeping in mind that each of us has a unique relationship with God, this man's response is a beautiful and uplifting one. Many of us pray for just the kind of prayer life described here and we might be tempted to be jealous of this dad's experience. Note that his story includes personally difficult elements as well as an answer to his prayer. No one's life is without burdens. I was particularly struck by his writing, "Then again, sometimes nothing happens (in response to my prayer). But the many times when extraordinary things do happen, have given me faith that the nothing is a something as well."

This story calls us to rejoice in the practice of faithful prayer.

If you did not respond to my question in the bulletin perhaps you will want to after reading this...
What a great idea to get such input from your parishioners! Sorry for the delay. I've been working on this email here and there for a good number of days. I so often find myself short on time. Here's what going to Sunday mass means to me:

I've always considered myself to be a spiritual person, but not necessarily a religious person. My spirituality is very personal to me. Yet to be honest, I am a Catholic as much for it being my family tradition as for believing it to be the best or only way to find God.

I started going back to church regularly (after a long absence) when my daughter was baptized back in 2000. It was not easy to get back in the routine at first. But as I so often found when I was a young boy attending church, I began once again enjoying the always thought provoking puzzle of trying to understand the readings from the scriptures as well as the homily. I find that, at least with regards to the readings, there are always new and often deeper meanings waiting to be discovered. I also find that these meanings can very often seem to be tailor-made for me personally on the particular day that some passage of scripture might be read.

In the last few years as my life has become increasingly difficult (due to a troubled marriage and subsequent divorce) I've come to need Sunday mass more and more. I find myself doing everything I can not to miss Sunday mass. The reason for this is that I find it gives me strength as well as comfort both of which I find it very hard to go without. Going to mass often reassures me, despite all of my worries, that I am making the right decisions in my life. It also often makes me try harder in those areas I am not doing well in.

Within the last year, I have even begun praying twice daily in an attempt to prolong those feelings I experience at church and trying to bring them more often and more directly into my daily life. I've always believed in the power of prayer and believe that I have had some clear responses to my requests for help, or simply answers, in the past.

But I have seen some extraordinary things happen in my life in the last year. I have no hesitation in describing at least one of those events as miraculous. Without getting too much into the details, the event involves restarting my career in only 6 weeks after not working for over 5 years due to choosing to devote all of my time to my young daughter. Perhaps, getting a job would not be considered miraculous to many people. But this job that I landed after only two interviews, at a time when my back was really against a wall financially, allowed me not to lose my house, keep my daughter in her excellent school, work 5 minutes from home and school, be available for my daughter whenever she needs me, make as much money as I had made 5 years earlier, allow me to do the exact work I was hoping to do (which I had never really done before), but has also rewarded me ever since in knowing that I am helping people on a daily basis.

After all that has happened, it is difficult to convey how I have come to feel God's presence in my daily life. But I do. I've felt it in church sometimes. But now I feel it so often during the week as well. I would have said a few years ago that going to mass was often like having a dialogue with God. But now I have come to feel that all of life is like having a dialogue with God. When I need something and ask for it, time and time again things happen (mostly little, often subtle things but sometimes big things). Then again, sometimes nothing happens. But the many times when extraordinary things do happen, have given me faith that the nothing is a something as well. It can all be thought of as a response to my question or request - often before I even ask. I know now that I am never alone and I also know that those footprints in the sand behind me are not my own. What better motivation could I have for wanting to set aside some time each Sunday to be closer to Him and to say thanks in some small way for everything He has given me - and I truly mean everything.

1 comment:

  1. Very uplifting indeed! Thank you, Fr. Fleming. I'm a Catholic convert and just love Mass! I go every day, and it's such a blessing...it's changed my life! I hate to miss when I sometimes do, but I NEVER miss going on Sunday unless I'm really sick, which, thankfully, hasn't been too often the past 5 years.


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