I don’t ‘get much’ out of Mass.” “I really wonder why I go.” “I go because I have to.”
Do any of those sentiments reflect your own mind-set on Sunday morning or on holy days of obligation? It is not God’s intention for those he loves to remain in that way of thinking. I am going to propose several steps to take in order to create the right “soil” so that God can touch your heart and mind and lead you into true worship.
We believe that the holy sacrifice of the Mass is the re-enactment of Christ’s death on Calvary – the unbloody sacrifice. The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us this: “The Eucharist is the source and the summit of the Christian life ... It is the culmination both of God’s action sanctifying the world in Christ and of the worship we offer to Christ and through him to the Father in the Holy Spirit.” (CCC #1324-1325)
If this is so, and it is, then we need to prepare for Mass.
1. Slowly reflect, by using a missalette, on each reading for the upcoming Sunday – read slowly, ask yourself how this applies to you. Ask God for grace to change or to repent for some wrongdoing or to grow in the area the Gospel addresses. The word of God is living, active, sharper than any two-edged sword. It conveys the grace that will help you to convert in a particular area or give you strength to fight a stronghold of sin in your life. Try to find the time to read the readings out loud. Ask God to show you what he is asking of you. What he asks always leads to greater life, freedom and peace. He always walks with us through the battle of sin to victory. God’s word is a powerful weapon against the devil and personal sin.
2. Take time on Friday or Saturday of a given week and examine your conscience; ask for greater freedom from the bonds of sin. Take advantage of God’s invitation and forgiveness for the sins of the past week. Often, the sacrament of reconciliation is available on Saturday afternoons or Sunday mornings. If you have offended God in a serious way that week, or been away from the sacraments for a while, take advantage of the sacrament of reconciliation. Remember, God never condemns. He seeks to be merciful and to extend forgiveness, but we need to humble ourselves and ask for it.
3. Before Mass begins, kneel before the Blessed Sacrament and ask God to open your heart to receive all he wants to give you during this liturgy.
4. Read the opening prayer. It’s the first prayer the priest prays after the penitential rite. That prayer indicates the intentions of all Catholics all over the world during the celebration of that Sunday Mass. Open your heart to receive those graces. Most of the time we don’t even hear the prayer because we are arriving late, we are distracted or we are talking to someone. If you have any of those habits, begin right now to change them. Otherwise, you are not praying with the mind of the whole Church and the grace (God sharing himself with us) can go right over your head, so to speak. We need to put our will behind what we pray. Just saying words is acting like a Pharisee, and you know what Jesus said to them!
Take these steps and I guarantee that Mass will open your heart and mind to the goodness and mercy of God. You will meet a Shepherd who wants to bring you safely home to him – follow him!