Once in a while people approach me asking how much they may be late for Mass in order to be still able to receive Holy Communion. It is a question to which the answer is complex. Surely, there must be a limit of delay, maybe a bit flexible for particular situations and circumstances. I am sure everyone sees that being twenty minutes late every Sunday would not be just a coincidence but a deeply bad habit, not only in the religious sphere of life but even human. Not entering into a discussion about receiving communion, I would like to point to the core problem of this issue. It is a problem common to many other issues in our spiritual life. We are thinking here about our intention.
In the second reading today, St Paul compares two ways of life – married life and a life dedicated to the Lord. We know from our own experience that, as much as this distinction is clear, both vocations can, in practice, be sincerely dedicated to the Lord through the faithful living out one’s vocation. I may say from my own experience that I often feel humbled by knowing lay people profoundly dedicated their lives to their vocation and to the Lord. Usually, their holy attitude is accompanied by deep humility – they do not make a big deal of their devotion. Rather, through their lives, they preach the Gospel by actions.
Our world presents the Catholic faith as restricting people’s freedom, as a burden. How encouraging are St Paul’s words ensuring that God does not want to “put a halter round our necks,” but rather help us “that everything is as it should be.”
Soon we shall begin Lent – the period of the Liturgical year in which we try to reestablish things as they should be. We can never achieve perfection – such is one of the results of the Original Sin. But we can do our best to be the best friends of God possible. Here our good and holy intention is necessary. Here our desire to be with God and be in the state of grace is placed. Here the question about how many minutes one may be late loses its legal sense because one comes to Mass to be with God. I come to Mass, like to any other important meeting, on time. If I really care for the person I meet, I am always on time, unless some unexpected circumstances happen. Similarly with prayers. Our relationship with God must be real, not only legal. The legalities are crucial because the Church is a society and, by God’s grace, those rules help us live a holy life. However, may we never forget that God is our goal and destiny, the object of our worship and, most importantly, our friend.
Łukasz Gołąb – Seminary of the Good Shepherd, Sydney, Australia.
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