I read in Tears of Sorrow, Seeds of Hope that “rituals seek change, not of God, but of us…The participants expect, and hope, to be different after a successful ritual than they were before…The ritual’s fundamental purpose is to escort the participants across a threshold, from where they are to where they need to go.”
We recently helped organize our first diocesan Mass of hope and encouragement for those experiencing infertility or miscarriage. We did not know who or how many people would come. Being at the Mass and seeing people there taking comfort in our ultimate Catholic ritual – the blessing of the Holy Mass – made me think back to this quote and the truth behind it.
The quote I cite above comes from a Jewish book on infertility, so the Mass is not something that is mentioned or even thought of, but it resonated with me.
We organized the Mass with the hope that this ritual would help people see the beauty in what God is doing in their lives amidst their pain. There were pregnant women who came to the Mass, as well as those who longed for a child, people who had long ago suffered infertility and those walking the road right now. There were people who participated that were not infertile but simply went to support a friend or loved one who has experienced this emptiness.
The ritual of the Mass united us all. There we all were, praying, receiving, offering – we crossed a threshold to a place of hope, and united our cross to Christ’s.