5 Ways to Better Enter Into the Mass
We receive a gift each time we are present for Mass. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is truly the source and summit of our faith as Catholics. With that being said, it’s good to be as ready as possible to receive Our Lord in the Eucharist. The following are some simple ways to help better enter into the Mass:
#1 Read the Mass Readings Beforehand
Reading the Mass readings before Mass allows us to prayerfully consider how God may wish to speak to us through Scripture. The reflection can be done individually or as a family beforehand. It can be done multiple times over the course of the week. Taking that amount of time allows understanding of the context of the readings. Studying Scripture also gives us an opportunity to better understand not only what we receive from reading the words but also how the audience of certain Biblical settings would have heard the words spoken to them.
You may not have the amount of time needed for a complete exegesis of a Scripture passage. Reading the Scripture passages even fifteen minutes before Mass has proven to bear fruit for myself. Sometimes, we just need to hear things a second time. How many times do you ask someone to repeat something once and then the message makes more sense? God is more than capable of multiplying the fruit of our labor, even from a few minutes-worth of concentration.
#2 Arrive to Mass Early
Arriving to Mass a few minutes early can give us the space we need to prepare our hearts. It gives us an opportunity to be in front of the Blessed Sacrament and to ask God how we may serve Him better throughout the week to come.
I have found that this is best done in silence or with as few distractions as possible. In his book The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise, Robert Cardinal Sarah says: “Contemplative silence is a silence of adoration and listening by a person who stands in the presence of God. To stand silently in God’s presence is to pray. Prayer demands that we successfully keep quiet so as to hear and listen to God. Silence requires absolute availability with respect to God’s will.”
For those with children, the expectation for silence may not be a reality. Spending the quiet time at home early in the morning with a cup of coffee can satisfy the desire we have to think about God’s blessings in our lives.
To be silent, quiet our thoughts, and enter into prayer takes practice. Sometimes it is easy to get distracted or to focus on something of insignificance when we go to pray. The time we give ourselves before Mass can allow us to order our thoughts on God’s will and lets us leave everything else at the door. (If you would like to read more about navigating Mass with children, please read the article found here.)
#3 Read About the Saint for That Mass Day
Having some background information on the Saint being remembered at Mass is a fun way to include your children. Children love stories. The lives of the Saints are true stories about real people who lived extraordinary, holy, and exciting lives. Something worth pointing out to children is that people who lived their lives in service of God did not lead boring lives. Their lives were filled to the brim with excitement, sacrifice, and in short, a life worth living.
Learning about these Saints, forming relationships with them, asking for their intercession, can make going to Mass on their feast day something to look forward to for kids and adults alike. You also could do activities with your kids based on the Saint’s life. For example, after going to Mass on St. Sebastian’s feast day (January 20th) you could go and play basketball in a gym since he’s the patron saint of athletes. The possibilities are endless.
#4 Go to Confession
Going to Confession, for myself, has been a positive way to prepare myself for Mass. It usually takes a bit of planning on one’s part to find out confession times but the rewards for confessing one’s sins are numerous.
Before receiving the Eucharist, going to Confession is necessary if we have fallen into mortal sin. Even if we have venial sins to confess, the Sacrament of Confession helps prepare the soul to receive Christ’s body and blood.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that “Indeed the sacrament of Reconciliation with God brings about a true ‘spiritual resurrection,’ restoration of the dignity and blessings of the life of the children of God, of which the most precious is friendship with God” (1468).
Confession, therefore, is not some sort of tool where we are told how terrible of a person we are. It is a sacrament where we express the desire to repair the bond of friendship with God and to grow in intimacy with Him.
#5 Do Your Chores On a Different Day
Perhaps you’re saying to yourself “I don’t have time to do all of these things. I have too much to do.” Where possible, why not try to do those things on a day other than Sunday?
My wife and I have been making an effort to get our projects and chores done on Saturday before the vigil. It hasn’t been perfect. However, the times we are even able to get most of our things done beforehand has had an uplifting effect in how we worship and how we rest on Sunday. I know for myself that I am not thinking about the pile of laundry that still needs to be folded after Mass. Doing the chore beforehand assists in liberating my thoughts to where they should be.
Rest and worship are twofold. The Hebrew word avad means worship but it also means rest. When we rest well, when we are able to take the time to speak to God, to take delight in His goodness, we also worship well.
When we worship well we are able to be renewed in our relationship with Christ and are prepared to go out to our job in the upcoming week. We are better able to tackle whatever cross may be given us. It also allows us to order our thoughts and actions on our ultimate goal, which is union with God in heaven.