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How to Get the Most Out of Mass

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May. 31, 2013

Many people believe attending mass is boring.  It seems to be one of the top reasons cited by those who don’t enjoy attending mass and/or have stopped attending mass all together.  We all know it’s difficult to force ourselves to do things we don’t enjoy or don’t receive any benefit from doing.  This is something we all have faced.

On the other hand, many people exclaim how profound the mass is.  They point to the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist as their reason for being Catholic, attending mass, feeling close to God, and growing in their relationship with Christ.  The Catholic Church teaches, “The Eucharist is the ‘source and summit of Christian life.’”   In the Eucharist, Christ comes to be with us!

If the mass is so great, and Christ is truly present, why have so many people stopped attending mass and grown apathetic towards it?  It seems to be a combination of things.  First, many people have received poor doctrinal formation, and they don’t realize what is happening during mass.  Second, many people have the wrong expectation of mass.  They go feeling they should be entertained.  We are so used to constantly being entertained in our society that when we aren’t, we find no benefit in what we are doing.  

Poor doctrinal formation and a change of one’s expectations of the mass can be overcome.  Read and study the Catechism, as well as the documents cited in the Catechism.  It provides a rich historical and theological perspective of the mass.  Once one has a firm understanding of what happens at mass, it usually follows that their expectations of the mass transform as well.

Better formation and accurate expectations of the mass are just the beginning of getting the most out of it.  Next, you have to play the part.  By playing the part, I mean doing all the practical things needed. 

First, pray about the mass.  If you don’t believe in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, take it to prayer and ask to believe.  If you do believe, pray to believe more ardently and devoutly. 

Second, plan your day around going to mass.  Make mass the priority of your day and everything else secondary. 

Third, dress appropriately.  While God will accept you as you come, go out of your way to look nice.  If you take attending mass at least as seriously as going on a date or to a job interview, you will take the time to shower, and put on clean and pressed clothes. 

Fourth, don’t show up late.  In fact, show up early.  This will give you a few extra minutes to pray and prepare for mass.  Tell God you are there to deepen your relationships with him and to transform your heart. 

Fifth, make sure to participate.  You’re at mass to worship and glorify God.  Standing there mindlessly isn’t doing either.   It’s amazing how many people don’t say the responses and prayers, or sing.  I am not sure why people don’t participate during mass.  Maybe they don’t like the sound of their own voice?   If you don’t like the sound of your voice, simply harmonize with the rest of the congregation.  You will be participating in the greatest prayer known and no one will ever know you can’t sing.  It couldn’t get any better! 

Sixth, pay attention to what you are doing and saying.  The more mindful your words and actions become the more powerful of an experience mass will be. 

Seventh, pray earnestly after receiving the Eucharist.  Tell Christ that you love him and want your heart to be like his.  After time, your heart will certainly change. 

Lastly, always receive our Lord worthily.  Go to confession regularly.  Confess your sins, receive the grace and mercy of God, purify your intention, and get the most out of mass.

About the Author

Jeremiah Doyle is a freelance writer for Newman Connection.