A House of Prayer

There was a time when a Catholic who happened to be passing by a church would make some sign of respect or reverence. We were taught to believe that within the church residing in the tabernacle is the real presence of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. As time passed, the reverence we once displayed both inside and outside of the church was replaced with an attitude of such familiarity that some of our churches look or feel more like social halls than places of prayer and worship. A parish hall is often available for socializing. A church, however, is the house of God Our Father and though we should find ourselves very comfortable in Our Father’s house, we should not feel so familiar as to be irreverent. Silence is a sign of respect, veneration and adoration for Jesus present in the tabernacle.

A church is a place of worship and should provide God's children with ample quiet time for prayer and adoration. We can and should pray anywhere; but to pray well, with concentration of mind and heart we sometimes need an environment more conducive to prayer. The presence of Christ Jesus in the tabernacle, along with the Crucifix, statues of Our Lady and Saint Joseph, statues or stained glass windows of the Apostles and other saints, and the Stations of the Cross all help to inspire prayer through which we converse with the Triune God.

Silence is necessary for a prayerful environment. At times we seek the silence of a library to be in an environment conducive to study and concentration. There are times when we seek the solitude and silence of a church to pray. When Jesus wanted to pray, He often went to places of solitude and silence.

Prayer in church helps us to concentrate our attention on Jesus in his human nature. Surrounded by the Stations of the Cross, we are reminded of the sacrifice Jesus made for us. As we meditate on his passion and death, we have an awareness of the intensity of his suffering, the price of our Redemption, and his infinite Love for us. Compassion and love for Him are evoked in us and we contemplate Jesus as a truly historical and human person, thus making Him easier to visualize, talk to, and thank in prayer. Moved to compassion by contemplation of his awful wounds and bruises, we pray and suffer with Jesus and come to understand that suffering, accepted in obedience to God, has a spiritualizing power. We then rejoice in his Resurrection and leave the church reminded that his Spirit is with us. But our day-to-day existence will evoke the desire and need to return. Hopefully will find an open door to enter through and an environment, which beckons us to enter into a profound sate of prayer.

Adapted from a pamphlet on Holy Face Monastery