Philippine Daily Inquirer
Howto come together in the family prayer time
Like the Mass, it is the sacred space
Today, we relaunch an initiative we tried four years ago, the weekly family prayer time. The idea is to give families a moment during the week to come together in prayer, to simply be present with one another, and to share each other’s joys and anxieties, successes and failures, hopes and fears, dreams and frustrations in the day to day.
We call this prayer time the sacred space—where we go home to, where we know we will see each other and bring our dreams and hopes together.
We saw this prayer time flowing from the Sunday celebration, as a family, of the Holy Eucharist, the feast we celebrate today, Corpus Christi, the Body and Blood of Christ.
The stages or moments of the family prayer time are: 1. Quieting down together; 2. Gratitude, a special way of entering presence, both a remembering of past moments and weeks, and a healing present moment;
3. Praying with scripture, the readings of the Sunday Mass, especially the Gospel; sharing moments of experiencing God’s presence, his grace, in the day to day from the lens of scripture and the Mass;
4. Sharing hopes and dreams in praying for one another and for others; and
5. Giving thanks; asking and offering, petition and oblation.
We try to frame it within 20 to 30 minutes, before or after one meal during the week when all are gathered together.
Pardon the “manual” to open our reflection this Sunday, but I suppose this is a good context to set for our reflections on the Mass.
The Mass has always been a key grace in my priesthood for the past 25 years. When I was ordained, the first years of my ministry were blessed with a deep love for the Mass.
Four months into ordination, I was sent to Fordham in New York for my masters, where I found and built community with the Filipinos, and the celebration of the Mass found a central place.
It was in Jesuit high school, Portland, Oregon, during my apprenticeship, where the students and teachers saw this love during the school Masses I celebrated. This became the seedbed of the love for the Mass and other things, which I planted in the Ateneo High School.
After being uprooted from my high school work, taking on work I needed to do but was not core to my mission, this love dimmed, and with it my own inspiration and “hearts burning within.”
Then I had to choose to go back on track and, thank God, my wise spiritual director concurred, “God wants you to do this.”
So I returned to the path and there rediscovered my loves—for the
Mass and for high school work. It came at a price. I had to leave my home for 40 years, the Ateneo, and my home for 22 years, the Society of Jesus.
Thanks to our Tata (a remarkable woman who made many of us love the Mass, again, and the rosary), my devotion to the Mass was rekin- dled, and it served as anchor of my priesthood.
This affection for the Mass intertwined again with my love for my work: bringing the love for teaching young men and women in high schools to the public schools.
Over a year ago, I told one of our companions in this journey that since my work with the public schools was taking on a renewed inspiration, and opportunities were coming our way to make a difference, maybe I should cut down on accepting requests to celebrate Mass for various occasions. He looked at me and said, “But that is how you are able to build support for your work.”
Looking back, it is the Mass, the grace of the Mass that brings together all my work, my journey, the people I invite and bring to this journey and mission.
The journey has been convoluted. It still is. But what gives it rhyme and reason, synthesis and integration is prayer and the Mass. It is in prayer and the Mass that we have a privileged moment of sacred space.
A friend defined the Spanish concept of querencia as “a place from which one’s strength is drawn, where one feels at home; a place where you are your most authentic self.”
This is the Mass. This is prayer. And if with these we can build our lives and our families into caring communities, imagine how much more beautiful and graced our world can be. For those who wish to receive the Family Prayer Time Guide every Sunday, e-mail email@example.com. Send your full name, all the names of the members of your family who will take part in the family prayer time.