The Mass has many beautiful and sacred parts. The Mass itself is holy, sacred, and sanctifying. There are parts of the Mass I believe are glossed over or treated as a ‘going through the motions’ type of action. The call to lift our hearts up to the Lord is one of those times I imagine we say it because we are supposed to reply with it, but we do not take the opportunity to truly experience it.
The purpose of the priest urging “lift up your hearts” and our response of “we lift them up to the Lord” is a great calling. It is a begging by the priest to take that opportunity, the one hour of Mass (or perhaps a bit longer), to focus on the Lord rather than all our worldly problems. Admittedly, it is difficult to ignore all the things which stress us, perplex us, trouble us, or cause us anxiety. The Lord is not calling us to forget about those things entirely. He is simply asking for an hour for our hearts, our intentions, and all of us to be focused on him.
“The priest virtually bids us in the hour to put away all cares of this life, and home anxieties, and to have our hearts on high with the merciful God. Then you answered, ‘we lift them up unto the Lord,” assenting to the injunction by the words which you utter. But let no such person be present as to say with his mouth, ‘We lift them up unto the Lord,’ but in his thoughts to keep his mind on this life’s cares. God ought indeed to be at all times in our memory, but if this is impossible because of human weakness, at that hour especially must this be our endeavor.
Then the priest says, ‘Let us give thanks unto the Lord.’ In very deed we are bound to give thanks, because He called us unworthy to so great grace, because He reconciled us being enemies, because He vouchsafed to us the spirit of adoption.” (St. Cyril of Jerusalem, On the Mysteries)
There are many things which weigh us down as we enter the doors of the church. You may have struggled with your children to get them out the door, dressed, and in the car on time to get to Mass. Your spouse may have just lost a job. Your bank account may be overdrawn and bill collectors blowing up your phone. You may have received a heartbreaking medical diagnosis. You may have just experienced a bad break up of a relationship. Whatever is troubling you when you enter Mass, the bid and calling to “lift up your hearts” is a pleading by the priest (and the Lord through the priest) to give your attention, your heart, and your everything to the Lord Jesus who can, and does, meet your needs. At that moment, for that hour, let the Lord be your everything. He hears you. It will change your perception and your life. The Lord changes everything.