Do you ever get people who ask you to pray for them? This can happen all the time. Here at All Saints, we have a “Prayer Chain” which is constantly ferrying along prayers for member of the community, and it can get a little overwhelming to remember these people. One of the things I try to do is to keep a little checklist of people to pray for, and run through the list before I pray each day. But let’s just say that the list can get pretty long!
It’s a great thing to remember the folks that we promise to pray for. But don’t worry: the Church actually has a little checklist built into Eucharistic Prayer III! After the consecration, we pray for a number of people: Pope Benedict XVI and Archbishop Carlson (who we pray for at every Mass), the Order of Bishops (all the other bishops throughout the world), the clergy (priests and deacons), and “the entire people you have gained for your own.”
So who is that? Who has Jesus won for his own? Obviously, it’s all of us at Mass, and it’s those who have died and gone before us in faith, but the prayer also mentions those “scattered throughout the world.” So we’re mindful at this moment that we are part of a larger Church, including Catholics of every land, people, and nation.
But guess what? Even if people aren’t formally part of the Catholic Church, we still pray for them! Yep, we’re sneaky like that. That includes even those who are separated by schism, heresy, ignorance, or indifference. So we pray for Assumption, our neighboring Catholic parish, regardless of how bad we beat them/were beaten in soccer the other day. We pray for Grace Community Chapel just down Mexico Road, along with all of our separated Protestant brethren. We pray for people in distant or remote areas of the world who have never had a chance to follow Christ. We even pray for people who just don’t care about their faith anymore, but who try to do acts of charity for others.
The sacrifice that we offer at Mass is offered for all! That’s not to say that it doesn’t matter what religion you are, or that all religions are the same (They’re not, by the way). We truly believe that Jesus has indeed built his church on the Apostles and has given us the sacraments as channels of his divine life. But we also desire that others would come to see and accept that truth, and that they would share it with us.
So keep that in mind the next time you go to Mass, and just as we’re praying for Pope Benedict and the Archbishop, the signs of unity in our Church, let’s pray for all those who aren’t present with us at the altar!