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Browsing Pastor's Notes

Let's Keep Praying for One Another

From the PastorDear Friends in Christ,

I may have mentioned this to you before, but one of the “duties” of a pastor of a parish is to offer Mass every Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation for the people of his parish. That does not mean simply saying Mass in the parish. It means offering the Mass for the intention of the people of that parish. If, for some reason, the pastor is unable to offer that Mass himself or is unable to do it on the actual Sunday or Holy Day, he can have another priest offer it for him or do it on a different day. That is why you will often see in the bulletin that the intention of a particular Mass is for, “The People of St. Patrick Parish.” For me, it is a good reminder that I have a serious obligation to pray for all of you.

Similarly, I am always so grateful when someone tells me, “Father, I pray for you.” I remember years ago, I was at the home of some friends of mine for dinner. They had also invited another family that I did not know. When the other family arrived and we were introduced, they all were incredibly surprised and happy to meet me. I remember the wife saying, “Wait! You’re Father Barnes?!!” Then the husband and the kids were all like, “Wow! It’s Father Barnes!” Their reaction kind of confused me a bit. Admittedly, for a moment, I thought, “Wow, I must be famous or something.” Then they told me that years ago, they were part of a group who drew the names of priests out of a hat and that they had committed to praying for that priest. Turns out, for years, every night, during their night prayers, the husband, wife, and all of their children had been praying for me by name. Imagine that! It really was so striking to me that these people had been praying for me for years. I sometimes think that perhaps one day, God will show me that anything good I had done in my life or any evil that I resisted was entirely the result of others praying for me.

There are people in your life and in my life who have stopped worshiping God on Sundays, who no longer go to confession, and who are thus deprived of the Bread of Eternal Life, the Eucharist. Whether they are members of our personal families or whether they are part of our parish family, it is a cause of deep sorrow to know that these people whom we love are depriving themselves of the most important reality there is. Jesus says, “Whoever eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood has eternal life.” He also says, “Unless you eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink his Blood, you have no life within you.” It is painful to watch someone starve themselves from the food that gives eternal life.

What can we do? What can we do as individuals and as members of our parish? The first and most important thing we can do is pray. Ever get angry that someone you love is not going to Mass? That’s fine, but getting angry isn’t really going to solve anything, is it? Instead, pray for that person. Pray for all of those who bring their children here for Baptism, Confirmation, and First Communion, but who do not come to Mass. Pray for those who send their children to Catholic School and to Religious Education but who do not come to Mass. Pray for all of those who attend Funerals here, but who have all but abandoned the practice of the Faith. I mean it. Pray for them! If we love them, we should pray for them. Our prayers are not wasted. I wonder what might happen if all of us really intentionally prayed for all of the Catholics who have wandered into a spiritual wasteland? I really think that God might do something amazing in their lives.

If we truly believe that the Eucharist truly is the food of everlasting life, then we must also urgently pray that those who have absented themselves from the Eucharistic Banquet repent and return. I encourage you to begin praying for people that you know and love who are absent from the Sunday Mass. Let us also pray for all of those Catholics who live in St. Patrick Parish but who may not (yet) be with us on Sundays. I trust that if we do pray for them, God will do something great.

Lastly, let’s keep praying for one another. We are all branches on the one vine of Christ. Let us love one another by praying for each other.

Your Brother in Christ,

Fr. David Barnes