When speaking to former Catholics who have left the Church, or even many Catholics, the common statement always brought up is ‘I never got anything out of Mass. It was the same thing each week.’ However, the same thing can be said of any church..Catholic or non-Catholic.
With every Protestant church service, the same claim can be made. It is the same agenda. Non-Catholic Churches have a routine, which is the same each week. A few songs, an offering, announcements, a sermon, a few more songs, and a prayer, is the typical routine of a Sunday morning service at a non-Catholic Church. As a result, the only thing that changes is the sermon and what song selections are chosen. Well, guess what ! The only thing that changes in Mass is the homily and song selections for the processional and recessional. However, in order to get everything God intends for you to get out of Mass, you must prepare yourself and have a personal purpose of seeing and hearing God in the Mass (apart from receiving the Eucharist). Here are the top 9 ways to hear and see God in Mass:
1.) Serve at Mass – Being an active participate by serving in Mass is one of the greatest ways to experience it to the fullest level possible. There is a multitude of ways to allow everyone the opportunity to serve, whether it be a lector, extraordinary minister of the Eucharist, usher, or singer or musician. Never underestimate the honor of reading Scripture or serving the blood of Jesus.
2.) Pray- Perhaps the most overlooked and taken for granted aspect of preparation for the Mass is prayer. The Mass is a real and personal encounter with the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. A relationship is not a relationship without two way communication so, pray and communicate with the Savior. The Mass is the source of our lives as Catholics. However, prayer is the source of our spiritual lives on a daily basis. Even if it is a quick “Thanks be to God” or “Glory be” as you are on your way out the door and into the car, it prepares your heart by directing your focus. Ask God to speak to you. Ask God to reveal Himself to you. Ask God to help you see Him and hear Him in the Mass. He will respond.
3.) Really, intently listen-Yes, you have heard parts of the Mass your entire life, for many, but if you are not careful, they become just that…words. Recited words are useless without a heartfelt meaning. Listen to the words said in Mass. Allow the words of the prayers and Creed to be your heart cry and your proclamation of faith.
4.) Get to know the Bible – Not just the Mass readings each day, but truly study the Bible. Understand how the parts of the Mass are taken directly from Scripture. Look and study to see how the Mass transports you to a different time, a different life….a different encounter with the Savior. When you take time to explore the historical and culture context of the readings you hear at Mass, when you reflect on their meaning in your personal life, and when you can better understand what you’re hearing at Mass and apply it to your own situations, then you begin to ‘see’ Jesus in the Mass and to ‘hear’ his voice.
5.) Participate – Sing the songs, proclaim the Creed, say the Gloria and give your offerings. You will never get anything out of the Mass if you do not at least begin by participating.
6.) Arrive early – Arrive 5-10 minutes early so you will have time to pray, sit in silence before God, and slow your mind and life prior to entering into the Mass. By arriving early, you also prevent the hustle and bustle and stressful state of rushing into Mass right on time, or a few minutes late, and trying to calm yourself down enough to hear with your spiritual ears during the Mass.
7.) Gain help from a saint – We learn from those who have gone before us and those who have gone before us have paved the path and are the experts. Read about the saints and their beliefs, interactions, and views of the Mass. Then, understanding how they viewed Mass, how they heard and saw Jesus in the Mass, and what they got out of it, pray and ask for their help for you to experience it as they did, to see what they saw, and to hear what they heard.
8.) Accept and embrace imperfections – Let’s face it. There are going to be crying babies, disrespectful people, or those who do not dress appropriately or act as expected. There may be times when mistakes or made or perhaps that individual beside you or behind you could not sing a note on key if their life depended on it, but that should not be your focus. When you find yourself distracted by those minor nuances, go ahead and fix your eyes on the crucifix and silently pray to Jesus for your focus to be placed back on where it needs to be….on Him.
9.) Prepare ahead of time – Read the readings for Mass, pray before leaving the home, discuss the readings with other friends before the Mass and what you see in Scriptures and ask them what they see.
There are a variety of ways and things to assist you in seeing and hearing God in the Mass, but beginning with these nine will set you on the path to an increased spiritual life and strengthening your relationship with Jesus. To God be the glory.