From junior high school through college, I drifted from the church. But after college and before I was about to move out of state for graduate studies, I experienced a dramatic spiritual awakening.
Having been away from the Catholic Church for many years, I didn’t think it was possible for me to return, so I thought of joining another Christian church. But before I did, I decided to sit through at least one more Mass. I made my way to St. Peter’s Church in Portland, Maine, and took a spot in the back pew. All I did was listen—since I wasn’t comfortable being there, let alone joining in the responses.
But during the Prayers of the Faithful, the lector read a petition with words like these: “That all those distant from the church and desiring the sacraments may seek reconciliation, we pray to the Lord.” To which all the people responded, “Lord, hear our prayer.” That prayer provoked a deep response in me. I thought to myself, “These people have been praying for me all along, how can I question whether I can or should return?” And because of that one prayer, I became reconciled to the Catholic Church. Eventually, I even moved from the back pew at St. Peter’s to the presider’s chair.
Every celebration of the Eucharist draws us into a divine dialogue. God initiates it with his church, situated in time and the real world. It is a conversation that is by turns intimate, consoling, challenging, passionate, and life-giving. At Mass this conversation occurs all...