Practical Ways to Enter into the Mass

Last week during our “Catholic Bootcamp” at St. Charles we spoke about practical ways to “get more out of Mass.” Here is a summary of those practical ways. What does it mean to “get more out of Mass?” I think of the countless martyrs who gave their lives to celebrate the Mass. From Soviet gulags and prison camps, to Mass rocks in the Irish countryside or Roman catacombs, persecuted men and women throughout the ages risked life and limb to be with Jesus, to participate in the Sacrifice of Calvary that is represented on the altar. They were willing to die for Him. That’s ultimately what we are striving for as we go to Mass, to die to ourselves so we can live His life. Mass is a dress rehearsal for death and resurrection and, just like life, we get out what we put in. When we put our whole self, we get Himself. 


Here are some practical ways to do that: 

  • The Mass is more than a sum of it’s external parts: 
  • Think of it as a blood oath. It’s salvation encapsulated. 
  • Live the calendar of the Church
  • Live the feast days, the holy days and the seasons of the Church more and moreCelebrate your Baptismal and Confirmation Anniversaries. Celebrate your patron saint’s day like a birthday. We are Catholic, we know how to party. 
  • Dress the part, dress for the occasion. Think of “dress down day” at school, or “casual Friday” at work, it’s harder to focus on those days. If we are too casual in appearance we will be casual in attitude. If we are attentive and well ordered in dress we will be the same in attitude. The Mass is the Divine Romance, let's dress for it. 
  • Sit in a different spot: Change perspective, sit near new people, put aside the "usual".
  • Keep the fast- Let's not be wimps. We fast an hour before receiving Holy Communion. Why? Because we are telling our Lord that we want nothing more than Him. It's our little Cross that helps us meet His greater one.
  • Ask your guardian angel and saint to help you focus and pray. They’re the pros after all.
  • Prepare by reading the readings of the Mass ahead of time. Meditate on them throughout the week. The U.S. Bishops have a great site for that: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/092614.cfm
  • Pray and sing deliberately. Don’t have a good voice? Well God gave it to you so He must want to hear it. Joyfully give it back to him. 
  • Come early and silence the heart and mind to receive what God wants to give. Spend time with your friend. 
  • Calm your mind in the car: have silence or listen to some Gregorian Chant. Consider what you bring to the Mass: what sacrifices and work of the week? What joys and sorrows? What intentions and needs? Come like the ancient Israelites- with sacrifice and need. 
  • Give at the collection: This is a big way we let go. We cannot worship God and Mammon. What better way to tell Mammon to get lost and tell God He is the Lord of our lives? We prove our trust in him this way. It’s not a tip for religious performance, it’s our sacrificial self-gift to God. Will it be a great gift? 
  • During the offertory think of your guardian angel taking your sacrifices and prayers up to the altar during the procession. What are you offering? 
  • Pray for the people around you. Pray for their intentions, needs, deeper conversion and joy. Perhaps they are in crisis or struggling with temptation or in pain, they need our prayers. 
  • Pray for the priest who is saying the Mass. Pray he becomes a saintly priest. (I assure you, we need a lot of those prayers).
  • Listen to the invitations of the Priest: "pray brothers and sisters that my sacrifice and yours my be acceptable...", "lift up your hearts..." Live them truly. 
  • Really listen to what is being said- follow along in the daily Missal or use Magnificat. http://www.magnificat.com
  • Allow the emotions to come into it. We don’t have to be dower and disconnected. Allow the emotions to enter into the worship of God as well. What are the words of the Mass making you think? What are they making you feel? Being more and more aware of this helps us to be more intentional and deliberate in our prayer. 
  • Receive communion attentively. How are you approaching communion? What are you saying to Our Lord as you receive Him? After you receive Him? Be attentive to your posture and focused on this amazing moment of personal communion with Him. We can say to him what the father of the possessed boy says in the gospel: "Lord I believe, help my unbelief." 
  • Make a Thanksgiving after the Mass. While others are bolting out, be a witness and spend some time in thanksgiving. When we receive communion we are living tabernacles of his presence. We can spend time in prayer with him within, intimately.
  • Leave with a mission: We are his presence in the world- What is he asking you to do right away in the world? 
    • Share the message
    • Call, tweet, email, or text the message and share it. 
    • Go and bring Him in service to another- the elderly, the young, those on the fringes. 
    • Bring that prayer to the rest of the day and week
  • Stay and be social for a while. We can get to know people, hear the news and greet each others as the early Christians that were "known by their love for each other." 
  • Do Something: True social justice flows from Him, from His Love, not ourselves. We are not the gathered community that brings him down. He is the God that brings us to Himself and leaves with us and serves His people through us.