As a young boy, I followed the ritual of ancestor worship simply by offering incense and murmuring unknown prayers to the gods. Even after my conversion to Christianity, I sometimes question my sincerity in performing rituals and prayers over and over again, week after week. Even a simple “Amen” carries different weight from time to time – some are proclaimed with deep gratitude of Jesus’ sacrifice for a sinner like me, while others are uttered while my mind is thinking of what I should have for breakfast after Holy Mass.
“What is the use of saying something if I don’t mean it?” I asked. “And what is the point of participating in worship when my heart is not there?” I reasoned.
Yet, God showed me the answer one night when my wife was putting our children to bed till now. She has this ritual of flooding them individually with 10 kisses and words-of-love every night. She would say something like “God loves (name), Jesus loves (name), Mother Mary loves (name), Dad loves (name), Mummy loves (name)…” and the litany goes on. Most nights I believe she means what she says, but there are nights when she says it mechanically and other nights unwillingly because of unhappy events prior to it.
I believe that our children will remember their mum’s ritual most at bedtimes and even long after we are gone. These words have a certain ‘power‘ that one cannot see, yet are effective all the same.
While God must be repeatedly telling us that He loves the world so much that He gives His only Son – that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life, His Words have effective power to do something in us even if we cannot see or feel.
As for me, those recurring prayers in the Holy Mass have suddenly become meaningful; the Rosary prayer has become much more than a repetitive murmuring.
And ‘Amen’ = Let it be so. By B