Do you find Mass boring? That you feel as though you gain nothing from it and either do it as a result of habit, or the famous Catholic guilt?
Ven. Fulton Sheen in his homily “The meaning on Mass” gives an example that may answer the question. “Some of you boys have mothers that are not in the least bit interested in (American) Football, you tell her that it is a wonderful game, and yet she gets no joy out of it, because she has no knowledge of the game”. He goes on to say the same about an opera being of no value, if you have no knowledge of music.
If you make no effort to learn about the mass and all of the riches that can be found in it, you will take nothing away and feel no different than when you came in. Before you become overwhelmed with 2000 years of liturgical, scriptural or cultural history, there are small ways in which you can better prepare your soul, body and mind for the holy sacrifice of the Mass that will set you in a more favourable position to attain all the graces that come from attending Mass.
Do you find Mass boring? Try these 7 steps:
- Look ahead to the proper (readings and prayers) for the Sunday. These are easily available either online or in your missal. This is done in order to understand the theme of that Sunday, it also prepares reminds you of where in the Gospel timeline and provides a context that helps with continuity in order to be fully conscious of the wider story. This is to ensure that you are able to meditate on a passage in the readings, or on the various prayers so that you may more fully engage in the liturgy of the Word.
- If there is a solemnity or feast day on that Sunday, try to do some research on it. It will assist in understanding the importance in a Catholic liturgical and historical context as well. The same can be done for feast days of Saints. It may inspire you in your own life to know more intimately the saints. Pope Francis tells us that “To be Saints is not a privilege of the few, but a vocation for everyone”
- The Code of Canon Law 919 says “§1. A person who is to receive the Most Holy Eucharist is to abstain for at least one hour before holy communion from any food and drink, except for only water and medicine.” This is known as the Eucharistic fast. This is in order to create a hunger for the Eucharist. Remember if you are deprived of something, particularly food, you tend to crave it even more. We have all experienced that longing for that exact thing that you gave up for Lent, or the moment it is a Friday, you immediately crave a double bacon cheeseburger and a juicy rump steak or best of all a braai. Create that in your Sunday routine, in order to have a greater hunger for Our Lord.
- Psalm 51, also known as the Miserere me Deus, a popular hymn around Lent and Ash Wednesday in particular, begs for the mercy of God by David. How often do we see in the Old Testament, various characters feeling unworthy to stand before God? In the New Testament too, we find the hemorrhaging woman desperate to touch just the hem of Christ. We ourselves come before God penitent in the confiteor (I confess), and again when the Priest presents the consecrated Host, telling us to behold the Lamb of God (Ecce Agnus Dei), we reply that we are unworthy and it is only through our God absolving us, can we be worthy to receive the Eucharist. This instances of absolution, only cover venial sins and do not immediately put one in a state of Grace. It can only be attained through the sacrament of Penance. It is important to receive Our Lord in a state of grace from absolution attained at the Sacrament of Penance.
- Dress Code is such a contentious topic in the modern Church. In the post-conciliar Church under the ideals of the 1960’s cultural revolution, there was a trend that emerged known as “come as you are”. This was a way in which they hoped to draw young people in and to try and “meet them where they are at” Unfortunately the fruits of this meant that people felt that it was then ideal and acceptable to not be concerned with their attire and appearance at the Holy Sacrifice, which can have an impact on small children in their understanding of the importance of the mass and the Eucharist, as well as their irreverence around the place in which the Mass is generally held. Before you get upset and say that there are those who are less fortunate and cannot afford to dress in suits and ties and formal wear to mass, understand that we should all be encourage to bring the best of ourselves to God’s house, whatever that may be. Dressing reverently portrays to those around you that 1. You are in the house of a King, that you are in the house of your Creator and Redeemer and 2. That you are at the most important event in your whole life. If you remember that the Catechism in 1324 says “the source and summit of the Christian life.” Padre Pio tells us that we could sooner live without the sun than without the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. It will allow you to understand the seriousness of the Mass in the context of Christian life.
- Most people have a favourite hymn or two and love to hear them in mass. Sacred music is an integral part of Catholic worship. How many of us have tried to learn more about various composers of sacred music? The Mass of the Ages documentary points out that we could go 10 years of Sundays without once repeating a piece of music. The treasure chest is deep, nigh on bottomless. So try to listen to more works of many great composers. Gregorian Chant, Sacred Polyphony and Plainchant are all freely available on your favourite streaming app. Names like Mozart, Beethoven, Bach, Haydn, Liszt and Verdi have all composed beautiful Masses. Whilst Palestrina, Tallis and Bird have well over 100 masses among them, with plenty more Hymns. Once you get in to it, you will not be able to stop yourself.
- Finally, don’t be in a rush. The Catholic Gentleman uses an analogy of a jar. “If you fill it with sand and then try and fit stones in, you won’t get enough stones in. If you put the stones in first and then fill the remaining space with sand, you will fit more in”. Essentially, if you fill your life with the big things first, like the Mass, you will be able to fill the rest of your day with smaller activities. Make the mass the priority of your Sunday. Don’t rush to leave early, try and arrive in good time to prepare in prayer. If you do this, you will be able to tackle anything that the proceeding week tries to throw at you.
If you bring all of this to your attendance at Mass, you will definitely have a much richer experience.
V. Adjutorium nostrum in nomine Domini. R. Qui fecit coelum et terram.