Crossing Borders: the Mission Rosary

I don't typically attend the Saturday morning Mass at my local parish. For one thing, it starts at 8am on Saturday morning. This past Saturday, though, I had the opportunity to lead a Mission Rosary immediately following Mass. So I went to Mass first, and the moments leading up to the Rosary itself were a little nerve-wracking. I had never led a Rosary of any kind, let alone a Mission Rosary, let alone a Mission Rosary requiring the use of a laptop and projector. Because the Rosary is prayed in the church immediately following Mass on Saturday mornings, I needed to do all of my set up right before we were to begin. Naturally, this took longer than it should have, leaving everyone waiting for me in the pews.

By the time that I stood to introduce the Mission Rosary to the expectant parishioners, I was fairly frazzled. Still, almost immediately after I began praying the Apostles' Creed, all of that nervousness melted away. We continued with our prayer, each decade of the Rosary prayed for a different region of this world - Asia, the Island Nations, Europe, the Americas, and Africa - and each of the people living in those regions. For each Hail Mary, a different photo of people from these regions was presented and reflected upon. All in all, it was an extremely positive experience.

For me, it reinforced again the value of crossing borders. I had been nervous - reluctant, even - to lead this prayer, to step beyond my comfort zone. But, in diving right in, I found pretty quickly that I was doing exactly what I should be doing at that moment. Moreover, it allowed me to spend time in prayer with my fellow parishioners on behalf of people in need throughout the world. It is one thing to consider the needs of the world's poor and most vulnerable, to understand those needs on an intellectual level, but quite another to see the faces of that need, to keep individuals in our thoughts and prayers as we reflect upon our role in creating a more just, peaceful, and loving world in Christ's image.

For this reason, I am especially grateful to the Rev. John-Otto (Joshua) Liljenstolpe for his presentation on Peace in the Holy Land, which he gave at the Seattle Mision House on Friday evening. Joshua is a Lutheran minister active in Pax Christi, who has recently visted the Holy Land and is immensely knowledgable about its history and present-day situation. He explained many of the historical and political realities that have led to and maintained the current divisions and injustices in Israel-Palestine, but then transitioned into the effects on the people involved - the Palestinians that spend hours each day traveling to and from work in Israel due to security checkpoints; the Israelis that live in settlements for no other reason than affordability. Whatever our political leanings on the issue, it is helpful to remember that the people most affected by this conflict are people much like ourselves: they seek to care for their families, earn a living, and live in peace with their neighbors.

Just like when we pray the Mission Rosary, when we take actions or make statements on matters such as this, we should keep these people's faces in mind, think of them as we would our own relatives living under similar circumstances. For our actions, our words, even our votes, are all extensions of our prayers.