Who are the silent angels in your parish community? Every morning before school, my children and I stop by our parish church to light a candle and say a morning prayer. When we first began these daily visits, I was surprised to see a small group of very dedicated individuals returning all of the missals and hymnals to their proper places in the pews. They are there every morning making sure that the church looks neat and orderly. I honestly had never thought about a person doing that. I just always took it for granted that wherever I sat at mass would have a missal and hymnal!
It got me thinking about all the other volunteers who work behind the scenes to keep our parish running smoothly and looking beautiful, the people who decorate and water the flowers and make sure that there are always hosts in the tabernacle. There are those who make sure that the food pantry is stacked and those who count the money that is collected at the Sunday masses. There are those that maintain the parish web site and work in our religious education program, as well as the people who serve coffee and donuts after Sunday mass. There are those who bring communion to the homebound and visit the sick in the hospital. I’m certain that there are many more whose jobs I am not even aware of, but who are integral to our parish life.
Then there are those who pray. There is a core group of people, primarily senior citizens, who faithfully attend daily mass and eucharistic adoration. They also manage the prayer line for any special intention anyone might have. They keep the spiritual life of our parish vibrant during the week while the rest of us are there only in spirit. I like to think that our prayers mingle with theirs as they pray and keep watch. Their work may often go unnoticed. No doubt most of the parishioners at my large inner-city parish rarely give them a thought. Yet, prayer is at the heart of any parish community and they may have the most important job.
I once read that we may be very surprised when we get to heaven at who will have the greatest places of honor. It most likely won’t be the ones who had the spotlight here on earth, but rather those who went quietly along, loving God and serving their neighbor to the best of their abilities. There are saints who live among us and we might not even know their names or acknowledge their presence. Yet they are there, every day, sitting in their favorite pew, lifting up their hearts to God. They are there to visit the sick and water the flowers and provide food to the hungry, and we are so blessed to have them as part of our faith community. Indeed, what would we do without them?