Getting Deeper Into Mass
Hey BG, can you help me? I go to Mass like I’m supposed to and I’m so thankful for Life Teen. For the first time in my life I enjoy going to Mass and I actually sing and pay attention. One problem though is that since my last retreat I want to go “deeper” at Mass but I don’t know how. I’m kind of in a rut, it’s the same thing every week, you know? Any suggestions?
Great honesty in this question…seriously, I know there are a lot of people who feel what you’re feeling. That being said, there are a few things I’d suggest that have helped me, in the past, avoid the dangers of spiritual, liturgical monotony.
One thing I want to say right off the bat is that feeling like you do doesn’t make you awful, it makes you human. It’s easy to fell into the “rut” as you put it and begin to look at the Mass as something “regular” or “habitual”. What’s vital to remember is that what is taking place at Mass is far more than what our human eyes can see and more than our feeble minds can comprehend.
Even though we may be in “ordinary time”, there is nothing ordinary about it…amen?!?
Consider what you can’t see
When you and I are at Mass we are entering the throne room of Jesus, attending the re-presentation of the once-and-for-all perfect sacrifice of our Lord at Calvary and sitting at the table of the Last Supper. The more that I push myself to remember these mystical and actual realities, the better I’m able to really enter into the Mass in my prayer and worship.
Get the lay of the land
Maybe you could head to Adoration in the church at some point this week, prior to Sunday Mass and reflect on these realities. In addition, take some time to really “walk” the Church. Really look at the icons, spend time praying in different areas of the Church. Check out the detail of the statues, really take in the artwork and the stained glass (if your church has it). In fact, if the priest is around, ask him to show you around – to give you a tour – of the history of the church or the icons…even the sacristy and the sanctuary. You’ll be amazed how your Mass experience comes to life when you see the reasons and rationale behind all the architecture, vessels, vestments and liturgical movement.
Sometimes all it takes is to see the church building from a different perspective to change your perspective of all that transpires within the building, itself...with the living Church of Christ.
Learn how to actively listen
Remember, the Holy Mass is a contact sport, not a spectator sport. Pay attention to the prayers being offered and the words being spoken. Active listening is part of the “full, conscious, active participation” that the Church expects of you.
Be honest with yourself, and get more practical…
And if you want five ideas of how to “get more out of your Mass experience”, here’s my top five (in no particular order):
- Be in a state of grace. If you need to go to confession than be sure to get there. Don’t give the devil room to work and don’t deprive yourself of the Eucharist.
- Read through and pray the readings ahead of time. The Sunday readings are always available online and probably listed in the bulletin at your Church. In addition, check out the “Audio” section up above or search for “Sunday, Sunday, Sunday” on iTunes and listen to the free weekly podcast we offer, designed to help you navigate your way through the Sunday Mass readings!
It’s available 24 hours a day, beginning on Mondays…giving you six full days to prepare yourself for Sunday.
- Sit where you can really enter into the Mass. If that means sit closer, than sit closer…don’t be a pew warmer in the back of the Church; there are enough Catholics back there already. Sit as close to the “action” as you can. In addition, if you can’t sit next to “that one sibling” or “a certain friend” at Mass without talking to them, than sit away from them. There’s plenty of time to catch up and talk after the Mass has ended.
- Be sure that you are tithing. The collection basket isn’t just for adults it’s for everyone in the community. Teens, if you have a job or an allowance, basically if you have any income at all, you should be giving 10% back to the Church (the 10% is Biblical, check out Genesis 14:18-20) and pray about 1 Peter 4:10. You are part of the community and you have a responsibility to support it. You are not the Church of “tomorrow”, you are the Church of right now.
- Dress for success. Mass is an encounter of the living God unlike any other. The liturgy is special, more special than anything else you do in the course of the day or week. Why do we allow ourselves to get “dressed up” to go on a date or to a dance, but not give a second thought to our appearance for Mass? Jesus is the VIP, and you’re on his guest list…dress appropriately.
I hope this helped.
See you at the dinner table!
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