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Amen Corner - February 7, 2021

Amen Corner - February 7, 2021

Kathy Kuczka


Remember the last time you traveled somewhere? Most likely, you were excited about the experiences you would share with fellow travelers and the places you would go. As the People of God, we too are on a journey—a spiritual journey to the Kingdom of God.

Did you ever look around at Sunday Mass to discover just who your traveling companions are? Walking into church, we are part of an activity that is in progress. We are in the process of gathering as a people.

Some people use the gathering time before Mass for quiet prayer, while others might use that time to socialize with fellow parishioners. For most, it’s a mixture of both. In the mind of the Church, it’s not how we gather that matters, it’s who gathers that counts. The people gathered at prayer arrive with many experiences of joy, heartbreak, and challenge.

I reflect on those who gathered last Sunday: Ana Maria was anticipating her month-long trip to her home country of Guatemala. Young Mary was looking forward to the publication of her second book and young Noah was looking forward to playing baseball with his team. Michael was rejoicing that his wife survived a challenging bout with the coronavirus and is now home and healthy. Ann was marking the one-month anniversary of the death of her mother. Deacons in formation Mike and Carlos were excited about their new status as instituted Acolyte and Lector, respectively. Joanne was facing yet another week of trying to make ends meet and Joe was trying to stay sober one more day.   

Behind every face in our gathered assembly, there is a story or two. These are the stories of pain and loss and joy and thanksgiving and hoping against hope. These are the stories that put flesh on what it means to die and to rise. Our gathering, therefore, symbolizes the paschal mystery of Jesus. Recognizing this, the liturgical documents emphasize the gathering of the assembly. The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, a document of the Second Vatican Council, states that Christ is present “when the Church prays and sings” (7). The General Instruction of the Roman Missal states that Mass begins “when the people are gathered” (120). That’s a stark contrast to the pre-Vatican II instruction which said that Mass begins “when the priest is ready.” The Church is teaching us that there is something very significant about the gathered community.

Before the first note is played or the first prayer uttered, our gathering becomes a holy event. We gather to seek strength from each other and from the God who strengthens us in word and sacrament. Our very gathering becomes a sign of God’s presence in and solidarity with the world.


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