Intentions of the Holy Father for April

Ecology and Justice. That governments may foster the protection of creation and the just distribution of natural resources.
Hope for the Sick. That the Risen Lord may fill with hope the hearts of those who are being tested by pain and sickness.

A Threaded Heart

He bows his head quietly and listens to the words of the priest at the altar. The priest never seems to speak especially slow, yet somehow things stretch out as Mass progresses. He thinks to himself, "I have walked away from You so many times... so casually... my heart doesn't lift that easily anymore." It is hard for him to feel grateful, even though it is right, and his praise feels leaden. The choir begins to sing the "Holy, Holy, Holy." In a single motion he hooks and lowers the kneeler with his ankle and sinks to his knees without lifting his head. It is a familiar motion, and strangely the weight of his heart helps his mass to sink down between the pews. The names of the saints rise up from the altar and begin to surround him. He doesn't feel special today, when the priest mentions St. Matthew. In fact, it has been years since that first thrill at hearing the priest say his name. He keeps his head bowed down through the time when the priest says Jesus' words. "Christ has died, Christ is risen," he hears the people recite, but hardly greets the fact, and forgets to rise with the faithful. The words, "though we are sinners," roll down from the altar and over his head. "I confessed," he thinks, and, "I didn't leave anything out." It never worked, though. Around him people are standing up, and over his bowed head people begin shaking hands and kissing each other's cheeks. "Peace," he hears. But the words cannot enter his laden heart. At last he hears words that hook into his heart like a threaded needle through cloth. As the needle pierces him and pulls through, he feels a rub or drag inside him: "Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word..." He straightens his back a bit and lifts his eyes from the bench of the pew in front of him until he can see the priest in front, over the heads of his coparishioners. The thread pulls and he feels his heart lift with a gentle jerk. "You, also," he hears so clearly that the words cannot quite come from inside where he hears them. The thread pulls more, gently now, but firmer all the more. He watches as if something wonderful is passing by, something he can grab, if only he'll reach out and grab it, like the sleeve of someone famous. And he rose and followed Him up the aisle.

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