Why do we have prayer partners at Mass?
As someone who naturally tends toward introversion, I become nervous and uncomfortable whenever I am asked to do something that requires breaking out of my shell. I have long enjoyed attending Mass anonymously so that I could have a quiet and prayerful encounter with Jesus alone. As I grow into my priesthood, I am becoming more and more aware of the great importance of meaningful communities grounded in spiritual friendship. It is extremely difficult to maintain a healthy, happy, and holy relationship with Jesus without the support of an authentic community. Ironically, people often feel most alone not when they are by themselves, but whenever they are in a room full of 500+ people with which they do not have a meaningful relationship. This is, unfortunately, a common experience for the average Catholic today. In the early Church, worship was intrinsically connected to meaningful community. As we hear in Acts 2:42, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” Participation in the Eucharist was never intended to be separate from sound doctrine, heartfelt prayer, and authentic community. For this reason, we are challenging our parishioners to break out of their comfort zone and connect with other parishioners – not merely to socialize, but to pray for one another. As we invite all present to connect with a prayer partner before Mass begins, we encourage all to pray for their prayer partner by name during Mass. St. Paul tells us that, “we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another” (Rom 12:5). Imagine a community of believers who not only say that we are one body in Christ, but live it.