This one church I usually go to for Mass has a beautiful music ministry led by a very joyful pianist. At the beginning of each Mass she greets and welcomes the congregation with a smile in her voice. Then, before the Mass event starts, she encourages everyone to use their beautiful voices in worship and sing the prelude, typically a praise and worship song. The band is on fire and their energy fills the room. Whether the congregation sings or not, at the end of the song the pianist—with her steadfast joy—gives a little “Yay!” And to be honest, that always makes me smile. She pumps me up for Mass.
I don’t doubt that some may roll their eyes at her enthusiasm but I think we ought to put a little more “yay” into our hearts. After all, the Mass is a celebration and the music minister is moved to an appropriate verbal expression. And I feel that Catholics could do with a bit more expression when it comes to worship.
When I thought about things a bit more I realised that the pianist’s “yay” is a prayer. It’s a form of worship. When we look around at our fellow human beings and ourselves we have to acknowledge our suffering selves that dearly need God’s help. That’s the easy part. But let’s also acknowledge those things to celebrate, those reasons to say “Yay!” Jesuit James Martin says, “Life can’t be sweetness all the time, and everybody has some suffering, but the realization that Christ has risen, that God is with us, is ultimately a joyful message. We’ve lost sight of that.”
Just one word
Something as simple as a proclamation of “yay” not only reminds us that joys can be found in our life, but it reminds us that expression to God can be as simple as one word. God is not looking for spouting prayers or overly meticulous words. Perhaps the next time you smile you can point that smile towards God and maybe even add a “Yay!” along with it. Find the joy. But first, find your one word prayer.
Maybe “yay” is not your word today. Perhaps it’s “help”. Or “thanks”. Or “why?”. Or even a singular sigh or grunt. Let that word or sound be your word for God. Let God take it and do with it what God wills. Those words or sounds become prayers by intention. Focus your expression on God and listen to your heart. Perhaps God will place a single-word response within you.
What’s your one-word prayer?
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Music: Kevin MacLeod and