We know the words so well that whenever we recite them we race through them as if we are in some imaginary competition to finish first. Each time the race begins, I am bothered deep within my soul. You see, for me as the Mass is deeply personal. It is an opportunity to commune wholly and completely with our Christ in a spiritual moment of Creation – a time when we can finally still our hearts, minds, and soul so that we are refreshed and renewed through the “Holy and Living sacrifice.” The prayers we recite become mantras that help me connect more deeply with the Creator through the Holy Spirit and through my Christ, Jesus. Even while Celebrating Mass, I become more aware of the intricacies of my own developing relationship with my God and am able to be emotionally present to the entirety of the celebration.
Now and again I change things up during the mass to snap out of the race mentality. I will move the Kiss of Peace, change the Nicene Creed to the Apostles Creed, or invite congregants to listen to the words rather than recite them. On rare occasions I will insert a different version of the same prayer not to make people struggle, but to help them think about why they are so personally connected to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. One such prayer is the Our Father. On occasion I will find prayers that fit a particular theme or that speak to the deeply personal nature of prayer, such as the one below.
Eternal SpiritNew Zealand Book of Prayer – Modified
Earth-Maker, Pain-bearer, Life-giver,
source of all that is and that shall be,
[+Creator] of us all. Loving God, in whom is heaven.
The hallowing of your name echoes through the universe!
The way of your justice be followed by the peoples of the earth!
Your heavenly will be done by all created beings!
Your commonwealth of peace and freedom sustain our hope and come on earth.
With the bread we need for today, feed us.
In the hurts we absorb from one another, forgive us.
In times of temptation and test, spare us.
From the grip of all that is evil, free us.
For you reign in the glory of the power that is love,
now and forever.
The above prayer has helped me reconnect with this humble prayer in ways I never before thought possible, and as I prayed I found my mind focusing on the meanings of what I was saying. I found myself wondering why I should even say this prayer – what good does it do me to say the same thing time after time? But, as I began to let go of preconceptions and of past interpretations I saw the beauty in the words as intended – as an invitation to something more and wonderous.
Who art in Heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven
As I reflect on these words, I am drawn to the state of being and of the heart than I am of a particular place. We are inviting the Creator into our awareness, not our space and time.
Remember, we believe God is omnipresent – that, then, must include our very being.
God is present in the here and now in the world around us, as well as our minds and hearts.
Give us this day our daily bread,
And forgive us our sins
As we forgive others who have sinned against us.
Do not let us fall into temptation,
Deliver us from evil.
Have you seen the news lately? There is no shortage of accounts that tempt us towards despair, cynicism, and fear. The latter can draw us into self-righteousness and pits person against person, generating animosity and violence.
We are called, instead, to forgive and walk away from the temptations that remove us from the presence of our Creator. When we allow ourselves to overcome the punitive aspects of our lives, we allow the Christ’s message of love to enter.
Watch for ways to counter fear with kindness and compassion. Replace despair with hope for a better tomorrow. Crush cynicism with Relentless Optimism.
When we slow down our prayer, we BEcome fully immersed and transformed by that which sustains our souls, and which deepens our connection to our God, to our Sisters and Brothers, and to the world.
Prayer isn’t something meant to be recited without feeling or connection. It is something that is supposed to draw us deeper into that place that allows us to be fully present to the Divine. It is a portal to another world, one filled with grace, forgiveness, and healing.