I’m not a Christian by faith but My wife and I attend the Wednesday Novena at St Michaels Church,Mahim,Mumbai for the first nine Wednesdays of each Year where we offer our Prayers to Our Mother of Perpetual Succour and Lord Jesus….we catch the last service at 9.30 pm…the new Bandra Worli Sea Link thankfully knocking off nearly twenty minutes of our travel time
The Seventh one was last Wednesday and it began the season of ‘Lent’
Over 500 people congregate for each of the sixteen Novena Services that are held in several languages (Eleven in English,Two in Marathi and One each in Konkani,Tamil and Hindi) right thorugh every Wednesday at prescribed timings.The first begins at 6 am and the last begins at 9.30 pm.Each Novena last under half an hour…with Prayers taking up 20 minutes and the Sermon around Ten minutes
Normally the Sermon is a trifle boring and predictable…but last Wednesday we had Father George Athaide with a resonant voice,preach a very clear and concise message which connected well
I even complimented him later on and he gave me a reassuring fatherly pat
The pace of the Novena Services,often tends to compete vigorously with the pace and rush of the Noisy Traffic Outside….However,He thankfully did not rush through the Prayers and Sermon !
He spoke of three dimensions of Prayer,Penance and Alms Giving
Prayer is the Vertical Dimension that connects you with God…It can be through Community (like the Novena Services),Family (The Family that Prays together Stay together ) or even Individual Prayer
Penance is the process of self purification…need not be contained to just ‘Fasting’ by refraining from eating and drinking…it could involve refraining from doing a lot of other addictive things like Internet etc…each religion has it’s special season for ‘fasting’…Muslims have ‘Ramzan’…Hindus have ‘Sravan’ and Christians have ‘Lent’
Last,he spoke of the Horizontal Dimension of Sharing and Alms Giving….two strong messages connected here….You do not have to be rich to be generous…..and give what hurts to give to!….normally we have a tendency to give away torn clothes and things that need repairs or mending….give,what others can use well immediately just as you could too
And when you do all three,the Father concluded,you complete the ‘Cross’…the Vertical Dimension and the Horizontal Dimension !…that’s beautifully put !