In last week’s handout we learned about the history and the format of the Mass. It was described as being the ultimate prayer, really the closest form of communication with God that we have in this life. Communication always involves two or more persons. Someone to talk and someone to listen, one to give and one to receive, someone to invite and someone to respond. Without two active parties, communication cannot occur. In this handout we will talk about how we can experience Jesus in the Mass more completely by participating in the Mass more fully.
Have you ever watched a foreign film - a movie spoken in a different language? If the movie didn’t have subtitles you probably didn’t know what was happening in the story and became quite confused. This might cause you to become rather frustrated, to fidget and even gaze around the theatre. Even this would eventually become boring and you would finally walk right out. If you go to Mass without any interest in understanding or being involved in it, you might find your experiences quite similar.
Attending Mass involves much more than just being physically present in the church. Catholic worship involves the whole person – body and soul. That’s why Catholics use different postures, such as standing, sitting, kneeling, and bowing, and do plenty of listening, singing, and responding to phrases. And while these physical gestures are important, there is nothing more important to God than what is going on in your heart and in your soul – your interior participation. Go to Mass with a happy heart and a willingness to get to know God a little better. Read the scriptures at home ahead of time so that you are familiar with them, or follow along in your missal during Mass. Listen to the priest’s prayers and repeat them silently to yourself, and when the priest offers God the perfect gift of his son Jesus in the Eucharist, offer yourself to God too. Say, “Lord, I am not as good and holy as Jesus, but I know that you love me. I offer my life to you.” Recognize that it is really Jesus that you are receiving in Communion and spend a little time in quiet prayer with Him afterwards. Thank Him for his blessings and ask for His help with life’s challenges.
It is normal to be distracted in Mass and to find that your mind has wandered from time to time, but if you develop an attitude of gratitude and the discipline to fully participate in the Mass the peace and joy you experience there will spill over to your whole life!