Are you one of those Catholics who practices the Faith by going to Mass or “Church’ every Sunday? Do you then leave Mass and not have much thought about God again until the next Sunday?
Are you a Catholic that has decided that Mass is not necessary or “your thing”? Have you decided that your relationship with God is personal, and just between God and you, so you really don’t need Mass, or religion at all for that matter?
I am sure that many of us fit into one of these categories or in a multitude of others that fall somewhere along the same lines. What a shame. Mass attendance on a weekly basis though vital to our Souls, is not really what it is all about. What it is about is developing and growing in a personal and intimate relationship with our God. One of the ways we do this is by attending weekly Mass. The problem though is that many of us don’t understand this. We go through the motions. We satisfy our weekly obligation without much thought, heart or spirit. We are very superficial. We don’t really understand the Mass parts, the different aspects of the Liturgy that we witness every week becomes something done by rote, and without any emotion, sacrifice or joy.
How can that be? Mass is just one of the gifts that Jesus himself has given us, through his Bride the Catholic Church, to draw us to him. It takes an effort though, but that effort will be rewarded with something that is more precious than anything we find in Earthly pursuits. These gifts have the power to transform us. Transform us into what? Saints!
Mass is just one of those gifts. There are too many gifts to even count that can draw us closer to Christ through his Church. I would like to outline the five that I have started with on my new transformation and have found the most powerful and life altering. Since I have started dedicating time and effort to these five tools, I have found myself to be more patient, less anxious about everything, and even more enlightened when trying to share my Faith with others. I find myself more at peace with my life and all the crazy things happening in it and I find a true joy in these practices and people. I have come to enjoy, treasure, and look forward to them.
Here they are:
- Mass: I love Mass! I find so much Joy and Peace, and feel the Spirit very much alive within me at Mass. Mass is the most perfect form of prayer, and once you understand the details that are embedded in the Mass and what they represent it takes on a whole new dimension. What we receive at Mass: Jesus in the Eucharist and in the Word; is the most important thing that can happen for us all week long. We have the opportunity to attend Mass daily, so go as much as you can, but learn about it and understand it. It will change your life, but only if you put the effort in. Let yourself go and be filled with the Joy of the Holy Spirit.
- My Parish Family; I have found that my parish has become my extended family. They are people that come together not just for worship but for participation in my daily and weekly life events. We celebrate every holiday together as a community in the praise and glory of God. That then extends to charity events, Boy Scouts, choir practice, the 5K benefit event I participate in every year, our Ladies Nights out, Valentine Dances, prayer groups, and the list goes on and on. It does take a lot of time and effort. We have to give to receive the joy of this gift. Yeah, I know, I am busy too, with a full time job, husband,kids, school, sports and etc. I still make the time for my Parish. We are all the Body of Christ, when we join together as the family we truly are, we can find magic, and that magic brings joy, even in the midst of tragedy and trials. Knowing that we are all in this journey together is soothing! I truly love them all as family and I know that feeling is mutual. Remember, when one leaves or drifts away from the Body that composes us all, the rest of us suffer and are weakened. Just look out at the World, is there a bigger example of that than the state of our present World? Get involved! There is nothing better than givng yourself to family and friends.
- Confession; This one if tough for me, I will be honest, but it is absolutely necessary. I know many of us don’t think so. When we go to Confession we undergo a cleansing of our sin, and our pride. There is something very humbling about sitting with a Priest and bearing your soul, quite literally. That is an experience that draws ours hearts to God through the virtue of humility. We admit that we are sinners, and we are in need of mercy, out loud, to another human being, and that is the key.
- Prayer and the Rosary; I wish that someone would have told me years ago how power and life transforming saying the daily Rosary can be. Truly, the practice has changed my life. It has provided me with a kind of peace that I didn’t know before committing to it. I will admit, that I do not recite the Rosary daily, although that is the goal. I do recite it most days, and can feel the difference in my spirit when I skip it. It is truly a powerful weapon against vice and evil. The Rosary and our Blessed Mother Mary have power for your life.
- Adoration or Exposition: This was a bit of a challenge for me at first. Sitting in a quiet church with the Monstrance before me on the altar, and the vacuum of noiselessness was something quite new to me, and a bit intimidating. In the beginning, an hour seemed like an eternity. I remembered though the Scripture and Jesus’s desire for just an hour of prayer with him, spoken in the Garden before his death. So I try to commit an hour each week, just to sit in the quiet and listen. When I leave after this hour, I feel as though I have woken from a deep sleep. I feel so refreshed, relaxed and at peace. I now look forward to this special time each week, and that time now goes by in a flash. It is truly powerful.
As I stated above, there are so many gifts offered by the Church to deepen your relationship with Christ. They only require an effort and time. They need to be a priority and a devotion. If you start using these tools, they will become a part of your very being and you will be transformed. It will make a difference to your journey here on Earth, it will make it more bearable, more joyful, less anxiety ridden, and you will feel the comfort of a true friend and confidant in Jesus. Your Earthly burdens when placed upon his yoke truly will become lighter, so put them on his shoulders. Become his intimate, loyal and dedicated friend. Christ will infuse in you a joy that will never go away, unless you let it slip awy.
And that, is what it is all about!