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"The family that prays together stays together" is a well-know saying, popularized in the 1940s by Father Patrick Peyton. This saying captures the truth that prayer is the strengthening and sustaining virtue that enfolds a family in times of joy and happiness, and in moments of struggle and pain. In the second lesson from this Sunday's Mass, St. Paul writes to his young disciple Timothy: "Beloved, first of all, I ask that supplications, prayers, petitions, and thanksgivings be offered for everyone, for kings and for all in authority, that we may lead a quiet and tranquil life in all devotion and dignity." (1 Timothy 2:1-2) Amid his many personal struggles and pain, offered for Christ and for the building up of His Church, St. Paul promoted the power of prayer: "It is my wish, then, that in every place the men should pray, lifting up holy hands, without anger or argument." (1 Timothy 2:8)
I am honored to serve at the Pastoral Center in Braintree where we take the words of St. Paul to heart through a rhythm of prayer that marks each day. Each morning at 8:40, a dedicated and faith-filled group of our staff prays a Rosary for Life, offered to promote a culture of life in our personal lives and throughout our country. At noontime, nearly one hundred people gather to experience the joy of daily Mass in the Bethany Chapel. The Mass is often preceded by the recitation of the Angelus. Cardinal Seán celebrates this Mass on an occasional basis, as do the priests on the Pastoral Center staff. Over the past two years this Mass has blossomed in popularity and has been one of the greatest surprises and delights of the Pastoral Center. People of all ages from surrounding parishes join our staff in our beautiful chapel. Our daily Mass anchors our day.
Mass flows into adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and then Benediction at 2:45 p.m. On Thursdays, from 12:45-2:45 p.m., the healing sacrament of Reconciliation is offered in the Chapel, and frequently there are many people in the pews waiting to avail themselves of God's forgiving, unconditional love. During Lent, the sacrament of Reconciliation is also celebrated a half an hour before each daily Mass. Special liturgies are a common occurrence on the weekends, as many of the flourishing ministries of our archdiocese take advantage of the lovely Pastoral Center setting.
Personally, at 5 p.m. each day, I invite my immediate staff, Father Bryan Parrish and Mary Jo Kriz, to join me in the prayerful recitation of the Liturgy of the Hours Evening Prayer. Each day at Mass and in the Liturgy of the Hours I ask the Lord to continue to bless all we do at the Pastoral Center, so that our thoughts, words and actions may give Glory to God and assist every person we serve.
The Pastoral Center beats with a prayerful pulse, as the daily tasks, challenges, struggles and joys of our archdiocesan family are blessed and sanctified by this prayer. The Bethany Chapel, and the presence of the Holy Eucharist dwelling within, is the spiritual heart and center of the Pastoral Center. Without prayer, the Pastoral Center would not have become the spiritual and pastoral place that Cardinal Seán imagined it would be. With prayer, we are a family of faith united with all Catholics throughout the 144 communities of the archdiocese and with Catholics throughout the world.
My prayer for you is that you will take the time and make the time for the Lord in prayer. Our lives can be so full of activities and distractions. If we take the example of Our Lord and the words of St. Paul to heart, our families, nation and Church will be strengthened. For all of us, may prayer remain at our center.
Father Erikson is Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia of the Archdiocese of Boston.