It’s a sacred encounter. It’s the moment when heaven and earth collide, and the Lord of glory comes to His people. The beauty and holiness of the Mass can never be underestimated. It’s a holy and glorious encounter.
St. Francis of Assisi put it clearly and, in my opinion, the best when he said, “man should tremble, the world should quake, all Heaven should be deeply moved when the Son of God appears on the altar in the hands of the priest.”
Admittedly, it does not seem as if it’s the holiest encounter we can have sometimes. The chaos of rushing the children to get dressed, finishing breakfast, and getting the family all together out the door and to Mass can seem a bit daunting. We can rush into Mass at the last moment, slide into our seat, and hope no one noticed we might have been a few minutes late.
During Mass we, along with all of those around us, attempt to focus on Christ and what is happening. We strive to listen to the homily, picture the scenes portrayed in the day’s Gospel readings, and desire to encounter God. There is nothing more embarrassing, however, than the moment when the priest is in the midst of the consecration, when Jesus is making His way to “the altar in the hands of the priest”, as St Francis of Assisi said, and then it happens. A cellphone rings. Even worse, you realize it’s your phone ringing! The heavenly moment is interrupted. It’s disrupted for you, as well as those around you, as your attention is taken off the altar and you’re rummaging around in your purse to find the phone and cut it off. With one simple action, which takes a few seconds, you can ensure you are not the cause of the disruption.
It’s the most important thing you can do before Mass: Turn the phone off!
Satan cannot stop the Mass from happening, but he can certainly take your mind and focus off it and off the center of the Mass. Satan is a master of distractions. He can prompt your neighbor, friend, parents, siblings, or adult children to think of something they need to tell you or ask. They give you a ring in the middle of Mass and suddenly the buzzing or ringing of your phone not only has your full attention, but it distracts all those in the Mass. For a moment, Satan has won. He has won because your phone was not turned off.
“If a tiny spark of God’s love already burns within you, do not expose it to the wind, for it may get blown out. Keep the stove tightly shut so that it will not lose its heat and grow cold. In other words, avoid distractions as well as you can.” – St. Charles Borromeo
“Renew your faith by attending Holy Mass. Keep your mind focused on the mystery that is unfolding before your eyes. In your mind’s eye transport yourself to Calvary and meditate on the Victim who offers Himself to Divine Justice, paying the price of your redemption.” – St. Padre Pio
Before taking the first step out of the vehicle to go into church, let’s make a habit of turning the phone off. The “do not disturb” feature on the cellphone is a blessing and very useful. Why not put the “do not disturb” on prior to entering the building and therefore you can ensure you are not the tool of distraction uses to take focus off Jesus.
Remember this Sunday: Turn it off! It is possibly the greatest act of charity you can do for your neighbor that day.