Sunday, July 22, 2012

Prayer & Petition

     Well, we continue to hope for rain.  I would hope that we are ALL also praying.  It is interesting that many of you have been asking me, usually on your way out of church on Sunday, to pray for rain.  I HAVE BEEN!  Every day we have prayed for rain in the petitions and at the foot of the altar after Mass.  I have also included a special petition in my morning and evening prayers.
     I’m certain that many of you have been praying for rain in the course of your days as well.  I want to ask a few questions however.  How many have been making sacrifices or doing acts of penance for this intention?  How many rosaries have been said for this intention?  How many communions, that is, how many times have some taken the opportunity to go to a weekday Mass and have offered the spiritual graces of communion received for this intention?  These are practices which really must be a part of the life of the committed Christian!
     Why is it that these are such important practices?  Because they emphasize the understanding that, as we hear in the Eucharistic prayer, “All good gifts come from You, O Lord.”  In acts of penance and sacrifice we put a real part of ourselves into the request that we are making.  It was a real moment of grace when I discovered that one of our families has offered five Masses (they’ll be coming up in these succeeding five weeks) for the intention of rain.  It was a particularly strong reminder to me when on the very day this sacrifice was made we received a good dose of rain.
     We need to be reminded however that the single greatest, the most perfect prayer that we can offer, is the holy sacrifice of the Mass.  This is because, in the Mass, we unite our intentions to the eternal sacrifice of Jesus Christ Who takes our imperfect efforts and petitions and purifies them in His own Body and Blood.  For this reason, offering an intention (often referred to as “buying a Mass”) is the most powerful way in which we make a petition to God or offer thanksgiving for blessings received.
     It is a mystery to me then why I don’t, and haven’t, seen a real uptick in numbers at daily Mass.  A “farmer’s Mass” is offered just about every Wednesday night at 8:00 pm.  In times like these it would be most wonderful, even important, to see many more people in attendance especially as we pray for this very important – even desperate – intention.
     The next most powerful prayer is the rosary.  I have been told many times about families who had been in the practice of praying the rosary together at night.  Sadly, this is usually related to me by adult children talking about the discipline practiced and lead by a now deceased parent.  It would certainly seem that in times like these this is a practice that really ought to be revived.
     Finally, I have for some time sought to revive the practice of ember days and rogation days.  As our Cashton Mayor reminded us at the dedication of the wind farm this past Wednesday, even with all of the industry that is coming into our area, we are still primarily a farming community.  Indeed, even the industry that is found in our communities is primarily focused on supporting the farming enterprise.  Thus, these essentially rural devotions are particularly relevant and important.
     This column is not intended to be a rebuke to anyone, nor is it Father “ranting”.  It is, rather, intended to raise our awareness and encourage the revival of practices which are at once practical and essential for the spiritual life.  May God grant us sufficient rain for a good and bountiful harvest, so that in having attended to our earthly needs we may be more free to attend to those concerns which lead us into everlasting life.