By JOEY REISTROFFER
GAFFNEY — The big bell over Sacred Heart Church tolled a Lenten Day of Prayer in the Upstate recently, and it was something a little bit different from the norm.
Father Gary Linsky led a group of 60 believers from Gaffney, Cowpens, Spartanburg and Greenville in a day of recollection that included Liturgy of the Hours, chanting from Scriptures, a time of silence and reflection and intense prayer in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament.
“Today I’m going to expose you to some of the richness and the beauty of the church,” said Father Linsky, pastor at Sacred Heart. “I want to give you an opportunity to retreat from the world … from common distractions that can keep us from focusing on the Lord.”
First, he started by incensing the altar. Then he gave the 60 folks who had dedicated this Saturday to God a quick lesson in chanting. Together, they sang from Psalms, Deuteronomy, Isaiah and Galatians, with Ashlee Bennett and Jim Dorchak leading the way as cantors.
“Prayer,” said Father Linsky, “is the way to God…”
“We pray, my brothers and sisters, because God exists,” he added. “It is how we communicate with the Lord. It is how we bear witness.
“If we are bearing witness, others will see that and be drawn to us.”
Father Linsky cited the life of Jesus as the perfect example, saying the witness of Jesus points the way to God, and the witness of Mary and all the saints points the way to Jesus.
“He is the way and the light,” Father Linsky said. “Believing means having the witness of Jesus Christ within ourselves.” We seek him out. We believe in him. And that is why we pray, he said. That is why we talk to God and share our thoughts and feelings with him.
The rosary is a powerful form of prayer, he continued. It combines devotion to the Blessed Mother with the worship of her Son. “Mary would never want us to neglect the one whom she bore, the Son of God.”
The rosary is a deep meditation on the key points in the life of the Savior, Father Linksy said. And the sorrowful mysteries are especially powerful during this season of Lent. They show the passion of Jesus.
“The Christian life is a life of holiness,” one of them said. “Our vocation is to cooperate with the Lord in doing what he would do if he were in our shoes.” Through prayer, Jesus kept in constant union with the Father, emphasized Father Linsky.