A reflection on reopening for private prayer…

Fr James Mackay of the Royal Docks parish writes:

“These days everything that was so simple before requires far more thought and is so much more complicated. We opened our church for private prayer recently and, to be honest, I resented the sheer complication of the whole thing, getting volumes of paperwork, the 19-page Health and Safety questionnaire that all priests had to fill in. It all seemed too much.

But that all changed 45 minutes into our reopening. I saw a mum come in with her son, before she took him to school next door, quietly take a seat and pray for five minutes. Here was a person who had no doubt been struggling with the same complexities of life, along with bringing up a family with no school, and her first resolution on the first day of reopening wasn’t the shops, it was this space. A space where she could simply be – and be with God.  It made me think it was all worth it – even that darn questionnaire.

In today’s first reading we hear the prophet say, amidst all his troubles, “the Lord is at my side, a mighty hero”. He really is. While the world around us may be in all kinds of disarray, with all that the chaos without creates and adds to the chaos within, God just ‘is’. Never changing, ever the same, he is stability, peace, calm, justice and love. In his company, we see things for what they are. Time with him helps us to stand back from the chaos, maybe sort it out a little, to step away from the crowds and take time to breathe and discover at the bottom of it all, ourselves.

In response to Jeremiah’s terror, Jesus says in the gospel: “Do not be afraid. For everything now covered will be uncovered. Everything now hidden will be made clear.”

When we get so mixed in with the crowd, when events and circumstances hem us in mentally and spiritually, we can forget what we think and forget what we know. We need society, community and people. We can’t step away from the world altogether but sometimes, even every day, we need to step back from the world into that space within us where God sits quietly, to see things as they are, to get perspective and to approach the world anew. That’s called prayer. So come along and step into that space, reserved for prayer, where God is waiting for you and is within you, to give you new eyes, a new mind and a new heart.”