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Boston Catholic Journal - Critical Catholic Commentary in the Twilight of Reason



A House of Prayer


“It is written, My house shall be a house of prayer.” (St. Luke 19.46)

Not a place to socialize, and definitely not

 a place of idle chatter



Nor is it a place for the latest gossip, sports coverage, or your daughter's outstanding SAT scores.

As you are sitting awaiting Mass, it is good, now and then, to remind yourself  ... just by the way ... that God Himself lives there  —  in Jesus Christ in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar ... you know ... that little gold box or turret most often shunted off to some obscure and unobtrusive side as an afterthought lest it overshadow or compete with the various “Lay Ministries” (music, lector, greeter, “altar servers”, (extraordinary) “ministers”, etc. ... which clamor for your attention.

God just happens to be in that little box (it is called the Tabernacle). Perhaps you are not aware of it. You are not alone. As John Paul II pointed out:

“Not only do [most Catholics] not know the basic aspects of Christian dogma, but in great part [they have] lost even the memory of the cultural elements of Christianity.”

When was the last time you entered a Church where the congregation, awaiting the opening procession, was filled, not with chatter, but with reverential silence, steeped in prayer, meditation, reflection ... preparation?

Here and there a person kneels and prays,
but most are busy with things other than God

They are turned casually backwards in their pews, arms spread out and relaxed over the backs of the benches, laughing and chortling with the people behind them, or waving frantically to people 15 rows behind them who are themselves too busy talking to notice the waving hand now attended by a calling voice! In the meanwhile, the ever present “ministers-of-this-that-and-the-other” running breathlessly between aisles and pews to greet this one, or to briefly sit and talk with that one — whatever redounds most to the notability of their benign and indispensible presence ...

Everyone is greeted ... except God. So many are desperately vying to call attention to themselves ... rather than emptying themselves through worship in order to receive God.

In God we Trust

In fact, if we are honest with ourselves, we must admit that the atmosphere, by and large, is not unlike what we encounter in our banks as we await our disbursements and find acquaintances in the lobby. The difference is that the bank will not tolerate the loitering and we are decidedly less boisterous in our comportment. We could even say that we experience a more subdued and quiet sense of reverence in the bank before money than we do in Church before God.

To carry the analogy a bit further, we find that most, in fact, have not come to Church to receive the Deposit of Faith at all;  rather, for a Withdrawal ... a withdrawal from the “Treasury of the Merits of the Saints”  – and from that curious gold box so carefully (and so ... revealingly) segregated from what is now inanely called the “worship space” ...

The analogy is not altogether unfitting. Christ Himself said that  “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”  (St. Luke 12.34)

Are you making a deposit today, or a withdrawal?

Where will you go for it?

And will you know the difference when you get there?

God’s House is not a social parlor, or a parade of inflated personalities. It is a House of Prayer.


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Scio opera tua ... quia modicum habes virtutem, et servasti verbum Meum, nec non negasti Nomen Meum 
I know your works ... that you have but little power, and yet you have kept My word, and have not denied My Name. (Apocalypse 3.8)


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