Study: Reflect on the Mass. What parts do you find most helpful?
Pray: Consider making a list of prayer needs for your use at Mass. Keep this list near you for reference when you go to Church.
Serve: Perhaps you know others who have been away from Mass for awhile. Consider making the effort to invite them to join you at Mass.
The celebration of the Eucharist is the highest form of Christian prayer. Jesus defines the bread and wine and his body and blood, and then he commands his disciples to “take and eat…take and drink” in his memory. Besides the readings we will hear at Mass, some other crucial Scripture passages testify to this essential element of our faith:
- Matthew 26:26-29
- Mark 14:22-26
- Luke 22: 14-23
- John 6:51-58
- 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
What happens when we go to Mass? What do we encounter when we open our hearts to this hour long prayer? Here are few key points:
- We hear a good selection of the Word of God
- We receive Jesus Christ in Holy Communion
- We unite in prayer with others
- We pray for the sick, those who have died, and our special needs
- We have a few moments for silence and reflection
Of course in our fast paced, entertain-me-so-I-won’t-be-bored world, we can look upon the central prayer of the Church and wonder why the Mass doesn’t “get modern.” The reality is that the Mass continues to adapt to the culture and times. The real question is this: Do I come to the Mass with an open heart to encounter the Lord and his disciples? Do I come with a focus to offer my life to be renewed by Christ?
Here are seven ideas for getting the most out of Mass:
- Read the Sunday Scriptures ahead of time. This way you can get a sense of the key themes and be better prepared to follow the homily.
- Come prepared to pray. This seems obvious, but many people often don’t come with their “list” of intentions and needs. Take some time before Mass to consider who or what in your life could use a prayer.
- Pray before Mass starts. Sometimes we can rush into church, drop into a pew, and try to follow along with the Mass. Give yourself 5-10 minutes to reflect on the past week, look to the next, and ask the Lord for guidance and strength. It really helps!
- Receive Holy Communion with heightened awareness. This is Jesus Christ who offered his life on a Cross for the salvation of our souls. It’s his blood that was poured out for the forgiveness of our sins. Make that moment of receiving Him intentional and reverent; let the “Amen” come from your heart!
- Pray after receiving Holy Communion. You have just received the Lord Jesus into your body – you have become a living Tabernacle – there is no better time to offer the deepest, most important issues on your plate to the one who loves you.
- Consider one takeaway that you experienced from every Mass. Name one thing (just one is perfectly fine) that struck you at every Mass. Perhaps it was a point in the homily, a line from a hymn, someone you prayed for, something you experienced, or an insight that came to you in silence. By naming one takeaway you actively participate in the prayer and engage your faith as you live your life.
- Use a resource to get the most out of Mass. Some people like a devotional, missal, or prayer booklet – something that can be used both in and out of church. Others prefer an online resource where they can follow up at a website, video, or podcast. Still others favor their smartphones for handheld resources that they can take anywhere. Find what works for you…the only true measure is the resource that helps you engage your faith each and every day.
Jesus Christ gives us the gift of himself in every Mass. He defines what we do and commanded us to do it. Every time we come to Mass we encounter the Lord and allow his grace to transform our lives. May his Body strengthen our bodies; may his Blood flow through our veins.
After all, as his disciples, we have his work to do.
The Last Supper, Leonardo da Vinci; 1494-1499, tempera on gesso, pitch and mastic, 460 cm x 880 cm, Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan, Italy.
Note: This blog was originally published on June 2, 2015.