A young man I know since he was a kid now lives underwater. He lives in a submarine and patrols the bottom of the oceans of the world protecting us. What surprised me is that he wrote to tell me that, in addition to the highly technical duties he has in the submarine, he is also the boat’s chaplain. So impressed was I that I wrote to ask him what he does as the chaplain. This is what he told me:
“I can’t do Mass because I am not a priest. I have a small group of people from the crew. We open with a prayer and then we read the first reading, psalms, second reading, Alleluia, and then the gospel, just like at church.”
He continues with these very profound words: “This is truly beautiful to me knowing that no matter where I am in the world the whole church is reading and praying the same thing. After that we say the Nicene Creed. Followed by that I give the intercession and then we pray the Gloria and then we close with a sign of peace and the sign of the cross.”
He concludes with this insight: “I hope that helps you with how God still finds the way to the hearts of many even when they have the hatches shut and submerged.”
How amazing is that? What an inspiration! He has reminded us of two realities of our faith: First, that when we pray together at Mass we are praying in unison with Catholics throughout the world. While the prayers are in assorted languages across the globe, they are the same prayers. The entire world raises one voice in one unified prayer of thanksgiving and petition to one God; whether it is in your home parish or Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome or in a submarine deep beneath the ocean. The same prayers are being said.
The second profound point made from beneath the sea teaches us that there is truly no place that the Word of God cannot reach and cannot be proclaimed. It can be proclaimed in the cathedrals of the world, at work, at 7-11, or even in the depths of the sea. The light of the Gospel pierces the darkness of the oceans as well as the darkness of the human heart.
We never pray alone. Wherever we are, we pray with the universal church in one voice and one faith in the one God who is the Light of the world—the God who looks into the depths of the sea of the human heart. No one escapes God! As my friend so profoundly writes, “God still finds the way to the hearts of many even when they have the hatches shut.”
– Father Gerard Gordon