Just like March and April, May this year looks as if it will be a month like no other – and the temptation may be to say that there is no liturgy because our ability to physically join together for the Mass and the celebration of the Sacraments and the Liturgy of the Hours, the Prayer of the Church, is still so limited. However, this would be untrue. As troubling as these days may be, the celebration of the liturgy is a constant – together we pray in our homes, we listen and ‘stream’ the Masses and devotions from the parishes, and the religious and the clergy continue to lead us in prayer not merely for their own benefit but for the good of us all and, ultimately, for the glory of God.
I remember when I was growing up in Saint Matthew’s parish in Clubmoor, Father Horan, the parish priest, always began the Mass by saying that it was being celebrated ‘for the glory of God’. It is a phrase which has stuck with me, and the current circumstances have made me reflect that, in the midst of all this suffering and uncertainty and anxiety, there is the opportunity for me to consider this fundamental attitude of my life and then to act upon it; all things are for the greater glory of God, my thoughts, words and deeds, whatever my circumstances and wherever I find myself. As the preface to the Eucharistic Prayer puts it, our giving glory to God, our placing of God as the very centre of all we are and all we do, needs to be Always and Everywhere.
Saint Philip Neri, whose feast is kept on the 26th of this month, was even in his lifetime known as ‘the smiling Saint’. This was not because he was in some way ‘cushioned’ from the difficulties of each day, and nor was it because things always went his way or he was without concern or worry or difficulty in his life; rather, it was because there was a deep well-spring of joy in his heart which expressed itself in resilience, a willingness to help, and a cheerfulness which both enabled and encouraged those with whom he lived.
St Philip – pray for us!