Monday, February 6, 2017

If love is not our motivation in life, it usually shows by how engaged we are. This is true especially in prayer and worship.

There are many reasons why we pray.  As a priest who stands before a gathered congregation each time I celebrate the Eucharist, I see a large gathering of people who share the same faith.  But just as each one has a different DNA, I am also sure that each one has a very different reason for being present at Mass.  Some come to fulfill an ‘obligation’ for fear of committing a serious transgression if they are not there on Sunday; some are there to obtain a sense of peace; some may be there because they need some petition answered and are in some particular need which only can be answered by God, and some may be present in body but not in mind or heart. 

I often wonder how the congregation would look if we all had love of God as the underlying reason we were there.  I am certain of one thing – we would look as if we were truly filled with joy to be there, and our senses would be delighted.  Our singing would be full throated and our responses to prayers would be made with gusto.  If our motivation to pray and worship is because we truly love God, we will pray very differently, worship very differently, and embrace our faith very differently.

When we are aware that we are doing a loving action, our entire person gets involved.  Just look at a person who is courting someone and is on a date.  He knows that everything he does while out on a date is done with a difference when compared to when he is only out with his childhood buddies or if he were to be just going to work.  He dresses with greater concern, he is aware of even his tiniest gestures, he wants to be taken seriously, and he speaks such that his date understands that she is at that moment the most important person in the world.  All this is predicated on the fact that he has love in his heart for the person before him. 

When our motivations for worship stems from love of God, the way we worship will be similarly affected.  If we are only present in prayer or worship because we are forced to, or compelled to for reasons outside of ourselves, it will show in the ways that we participate at Mass. 

But having said that, I do realise that each person at Mass is never a person apart from his or her life experiences.  Each one is there replete with their histories, backgrounds and amalgamation of joys and sorrows.  Each person must have a story of life that includes a struggle to love as well.  When I forget this and am even a bit disturbed by what appears before me to be a sign of disinterest and insincerity, I as a celebrant may be guilty of painting with a very broad brush, giving scant respect to each person’s history, background and make up. 

This is why I fully believe that my motivation to worship has to be first founded on my love of God.  The moment I depart from this, I begin to dangerously look at my ministry as a task, or a duty, or an obligation imposed from outside of myself.  I will risk becoming disinterested, cold and merely functional. 


  1. Cheers for you at Mass. You always appear in love. Thanks for keeping it up. Love seeing you this way. Come for more Masses at IHM ok? :P

  2. I guess if your statement "I often wonder how the congregation would look if we all had love of God as the underlying reason we were there." does happened, that will be heaven.

  3. "Each person must hv a story of life that includes a struggle to love as well..."

    I'm glad for this line, in fact, for the whole paragraph for it shows a veritable understanding and empathy of human nature.....that we come as we are....

    It could be with a heart overflowing with love & gratitude for the Creator - loving God for God's sake - so you have visibly beaming faces in the congregation. And like you said it is indeed heart-warming and delightful to worship together in such a company.

    But it could be - it is in the shadowed, downcast, weary and even impassive faces that hides a heart that resolutely stands its ground - to love Him, to come & worship Him - in spite of His seeming stony silence.

    Perhaps it is a heart , a soul like that in Song of Solomon-(3:2)
    "I will get up now and go about the ......................; I will search for the one my heart loves......"

    And where else but at mass in church !

    So, do not be disheartened if most of the faces in the congregation seemed lost in meditative silence or are not animated for beneath the mask there could be like you said- "a struggle to love...."

    God bless u, Fr