FAITH MATTERS: An Invitation to Pray

Wednesday 29 May started out as a chilly morning in the parish grounds of Morpeth’s Mary Immaculate Conception Church, however, hearts were warmed, and voices lifted in praise of Special Religious Education teachers who came together from across the diocese. The invitation to gather, share stories and pray ‘A Year of Prayer’ was celebrated with Bishop Michael Kennedy.

The day began in worship at Mass with Bishop Michael presiding and lovely music accompanied by some of the scripture teachers.

The theme for the gathering was ‘A Year of Prayer.’ Some forty participants gathered for  mystagogical reflection, to listen to and recall the scripture of the Lord’s Prayer, reflect upon its meaning in our lives and to consider what God is calling us to do. The hall was soon filled with honest, open and robust conversations.

In breaking open the Lord’s Prayer, we contemplated it’s meaning in our lives. When we fervently look at how Jesus taught his disciples to pray, we are drawn to the mystery behind His words for the disciples, spoken centuries ago, and the Christ speaking to us in our lives today.

“Teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples”

The disciples recognised, as Jesus himself did, that John the Baptist was the one to prepare people for the coming of Christ. In doing so, John and Jesus share the pattern of prayer within community.

“Say this when you pray: Father, may your name be holy.”

How many times do we hear people say ‘God’ or ‘Oh my God’ in a way not intended? Jesus reminds his followers that when they mention God it is to be done so in a most holy way.

“Your kingdom come”

When we pray this, we are yearning for the continuation of God’s reign here on earth. God is with us and with our continued prayers we hope to convert the hearts of those who do not believe.

“Give us each day our daily bread”

We are humbled before God, knowing that as much as we are loved by Him, we need Him. Bread, which sustains our hunger, and the bread of life, which nourishes us spiritually, are what we are asking for.

“Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

We may be able to forgive someone if they have done wrong and are truly sorry and we may be able to say sorry ourselves if we know we have made errors. The difficulty lies in the times when we don’t want to say sorry, or we don’t want to forgive. Jesus is telling us to pray through these times, so that we might be given the grace to engage in humbly loving our neighbours, no matter what.

Praying the Lord’s prayer not only teaches us how to pray like Jesus, it leads us to model from his very teachings. His prayer is one of praise, of petition, of requests and of promise.

So, whilst warm conversations, stories and prayers filled the heart, hot soup, chicken and vegies filled stomachs and afterwards, participants made their way to the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. The Atrium is a place where young children go to be faith formed in a very holistic way, with handmade ‘pieces’ to work with using a Montessori approach to teaching about scripture and sacramentality.

The day was a lovely connection with fellow teachers of Special Religious Education who dedicate and volunteer their time to bring the joy of the Gospel to children in state schools.

Pope Francis invites us all to pray throughout 2024 in preparation for the Jubilee 2025 with the theme “Pilgrims of Hope.” Jubilee years, or Holy Years, which occur every 25 years, are opportunities for transformation, where we are invited to enter deeply into the theme through prayer and reflection. May we say a prayer of thanks for the work of Special Religious Educators and pray that this ministry continues as the teachers share Jesus’ message of love to all the world.

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