Sin, doubt and worry can keep us from what we need the most—God, prayer, and church.
Sunday evening I was a little weighted-down with some of the above as I headed to Mass. Nothing serious, and I know people with heavier burdens, so I’m not complaining.
My daughter and I made it to our pew, and I knelt in a short, centering prayer. Then, I have my little ritual.
I settle in, and fish-out a mass book from the seat back pocket in front of me. For you non-Catholics, this book (which, growing up, we called a “missal”) has the hymns and scriptural readings for each week’s services. I like to check on what we’re singing, in case one of my favorites is in the program, and pre-read the Old and New Testament selections.
As I flipped pages to the week’s readings, a little slip of white paper, maybe 2.5 by 4 inches fell out from the very page I was turning to.
At first, I just figured someone from the morning masses had bookmarked it. But this was not blank paper.
Typewritten on it, with a ballpoint-pen correction for a typo, was a passage from the first letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians.
I’m not sure how this scrap of paper got there, but it was a bolt of lightning—because it seemed meant just for me right then:
“No test has been sent to you that does not come to all men. Besides, God keeps his promise. He will not let you be tested beyond your strength. Along with the test, he will provide you a way out, so that you may be able to endure it.” (1 Cor. 10:13)
It’s the section where Paul makes an entreaty against overconfidence and what we might now call “secularism”, as fresh and relevant to our world as it was to the struggling, doubt-filled Christians in Corinth in or around the year 56.
Somehow, it found me, in 2018.
By the way, I checked several other mass books in the vicinity around my seat, and none of the others had one.