Becoming a Church of mercy means becoming people of mercy in our parishes. Next Sunday, try the following prayer exercise at your local parish.
1. Get to the church 20 minutes before the starting time for Mass.
As you wait, look around at those who are preparing for the celebration – not just the priest but also those who are responsible for putting out the newsletters, or playing music, or taking up the collection.
Think about the people who make up the flowers in the church, or run outreach groups for the community. Some of their names may be in the parish newsletter.
In the time you have before Mass, keep in your heart those who help make your parish the place that it is. Try to see them as God might see them.
2. At different times during the Mass there are opportunities to make your own private intentions.
Devote your prayers this week to the people in your parish – those who you have reflected on in the time before Mass.
Pray that they might continue to feel God’s presence in their lives.
Pray that they might continue to share their God-given gifts with others.
Pray that others might also be moved to join them in making this a Spirit-filled community.
3. When Mass is finished, find one of the people you have prayed about, and thank them for being part of your parish.
If you then find yourself in conversation with them, you might ask them what moves them to devote their time to the parish.
4. Over the next few days, find some time to think about your own faith life.
Has this experience changed the way that you see your parish community? Do you feel moved to become more involved in your parish or community?
What gifts do you have that you could share?