No matter who you are or how long you’ve been Catholic, you’ve likely at least one point or another thought, “I’m just not getting anything out of this Mass…” Even the best of us have our off Sundays. Unfortunately all too often, people use this as a reason to stop going to Mass. They question the importance. They leave the Church. They forget or maybe have never realized that the Mass is the “source and summit” of our Catholic faith. They turn their back very thing they need to nourish their spiritual life. And their faith life is seriously diminished as a result.
If you’re reading this post, you may be finding yourself on the cusp of this very experience. Don’t fret! Gird your loins! There is hope! Even if the cantor sings off-key, even if the priest’s homily is a 20-minute long run-on sentence, even if the family behind you seems to be singing directly into the back of your head, the Mass can still be the most profound experience you have all week. The following is a list of things I did when I decided to dive deeper into my faith which made the Mass come alive for me…
5. Set the tone before you go.
Cannon Law requires you to fast at least one hour before receiving Holy Communion. By doing so, we are reminded of Christ’s sacrifice for us, but we can take it a step further. While you’re getting ready, review in your mind your week. Take stock in what you’ve done right in the eyes of God and what you’ve done wrong. Read the day’s readings before you leave the house. Turn off the radio on your drive and think/meditate about a passage from those readings that stood out to you.
4. Make a personal offering each Sunday.
When you get to your seat (15 minutes early), kneel before God and remember your shortcomings and sins and ask for a specific help to follow Him more closely. Thank God for your blessings and express your gratitude for His goodness. Remember your family, friends, coworkers, and others (living or dead) in need and offer the mass for someone. During the Opening Prayer (the Collect), be sure to remember them before God.
3. Read along with the prayers in the missalette for a short time.
When was the last time you intentionally attended to the words you were saying in Mass? By picking up the missalette and following along word by word, you can see the Mass again in a new light. You learn what the parts of the Mass are. You recognize how much scripture is used in the Liturgy. You drown out distractions by focusing on the words. You engage more fully aware of what is going on. If you do this for six weeks and then put the misallette away, you’ll be surprised at the difference.
2. Research a new part of the Liturgy for each Sunday.
At some point during the week, take a moment and research a new part of the Mass. Learn what we do and why we do it. Here are some links to help you out...
1. Know why you’re there.
When we fully give ourselves over to whole participation (mind, body, and soul) in the Mass, there is no way we leave unaffected, but if we enter into Mass thinking “what’s in this for me?” we miss the point completely. Quite frankly, the point of the Mass is not to “get” anything out of it. When we participate in the Mass, we focus on God and the whole of Christianity and not ourselves. The Mass is there not to entertain us, but to provide us as a community the opportunity to give glory and honor to God for creating us and loving us, to remember the sacrifice of Christ for our salvation, to receive the real presence of Christ into our very being, and to unite ourselves in with the Body of Christ (on Earth, in Purgatory, and in Heaven). The act of doing so is pleasing to to God even when we’d rather be somewhere else. Even when we’re tired from a long week of work. Even when our child is fussy. Even when we sing off-key. It is in those times when the sacrifice might even mean the most to Him, when give our best in the face of adversity.
Bonus: Keep a Mass journal.
Take it from Matthew Kelly…
Sam Mauck is the Director of Campus & Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of Memphis. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org