By Teresa Kidron
Do you prepare for Mass?
We prepare for so many things—work, school, a birthday party, a vacation—so as to do or enjoy those things as best we can.
Likewise, we need to prepare to celebrate the sacrifice of the Mass. It is the source and summit of Christian life. Entering into its sacred mysteries more profoundly will draw down more graces that will bear fruit in our lives.
Our Outward Presentation
Our exterior preparation shows our interior focus on God. It starts with a plan to go to Mass at a specific church and time, keeping in mind the one-hour fast if we are disposed to receive Holy Communion. Make a commitment to God and keep it.
We should prepare for Mass with attention to our dress and overall appearance. Worshippers should look their best for God. May our outward appearance reflect inward purity and devotion.
Since it takes time to set aside earthly duties and worries, try to arrive for Mass at least a few minutes early. We want to enter into the infinite realm of God, for whom all things are possible. Plan to stay until the priest gives the final blessing and leaves the sanctuary. If our schedule allows, we can take time for a prayer of thanksgiving, like the Anima Christi or a Hail Mary. We are setting aside this time to worship Our Lord. It’s a date; don’t be rushed.
We should make it a habit to silence our cell phones before entering the church. Cell phones going off are a major distraction for everyone. Silencing our phones is also a way of showing that this time is dedicated to God alone.
Enter the church quietly, genuflect towards Our Lord in the tabernacle, and make the Sign of the Cross. These outward gestures reflect our belief in the Trinity and Jesus’ death on the Cross for our salvation. They help us put the world aside and orient ourselves toward God.
Focus on Our Lord in the tabernacle, not on the people in attendance. Be patient with the families with small children and those who may be a distraction. If needed, offer to help quietly and simply.
Interior preparation for Mass is the part that is between the soul and God. The Mass is a prayer offered to God the Father, through Jesus Christ, His Son, in the unity of the Holy Spirit. It is for each one of us to open the door of our heart to God, seeking that spiritual intimacy which God longs to see in us.
Offer up an intention for the Mass: for a person in need, for forgiveness of sins, and/or growth in a particular virtue. God wants us to ask Him for blessings and favors. St. Thomas Aquinas’ Prayer Before Mass offers an excellent way to enter into the prayer of the Mass and receive its abundant graces.
When Mass begins, think more deeply about the “Ordinaries” of the Mass—the prayers recited at each Mass—that can become rote prayer. Be mindful of God’s power to forgive sins, and praise His great glory from your heart.
The Scripture readings are the word of the Lord. Don’t leave them in church. Meditate on small passages throughout your day. We ought to put the teaching into practice in our daily lives.
Other people can see our exterior preparation and to some extent, our dispositions, but only God knows the thoughts of our mind and heart. Each of us must work at entering into the sacred mysteries in the depths of our own soul, in the way that Jesus prayed so fervently in the Garden of Gethsemane that He sweated drops of blood (Luke 22:44).
If we have received Holy Communion, we should know that we are an “Ark of the Covenant,” carrying the Lord in our bodies. We have united ourselves to Our Lord and Savior. Let us savor this time to grow in spiritual intimacy with Him.
After the final blessing, take time to thank our Savior and His Mother. St. Thomas Aquinas’ Prayer of Thanksgiving after Communion is a favorite of mine. Linger with Our Lord in His Temple.
Words are Not Needed
We can always deepen our prayer at Mass. Once, when I had just begun attending a weekly celebration of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, I was the only person in attendance, and the Latin Mass books had not been set out. I had no “props” to follow. I didn’t want to leave, but I felt awkward staying. Then I remembered that at Mass, we are at the foot of the Cross, close to our Blessed Mother, St. John, and the holy women.
What would I have said had I been at the actual crucifixion? What was there to say? Then the lightbulb in my brain turned on. Words are not needed. I was simply to be present to our Lord and unite my whole being to His Passion and Death.
Pray the Mass with a pure heart. Thank God for blessings received. Ask God for spiritual and temporal favors. Develop an intimate conversation with God at Mass, the foretaste of heaven on earth, and it will produce abundant fruit that will last in time and eternity.
Wife, mother, and grandmother, Teresa enjoys the company of family and friends, and the hobbies of sewing and gardening.