How to “Get Something” out of Mass

Over the years people have told me (usually in explaining why they don’t bother with church anymore), “I don’t get anything out of the Mass.” I’ve been hearing it again recently by several different people. This is a sad statement. It tells me that the person saying this doesn’t understand what the Mass is all about and that’s a shame. It is a sorry testament of how little many of us, even many of us faithful Catholics, really know what our own faith.*

Eucharist

(photo credit: Lawrence OP via photopin cc)

The statement “I don’t get anything out of the Mass” also brings me to ask at least two questions. 1) “What are you looking to get out of Mass?” and 2) “What are you putting into the Mass?”

“What are you looking to get out of Mass?

If you are looking for good music, a great preacher and being filled with fluffy feelings, you aren’t always going to get it. That’s not what mass is about. Sure it helps if the music is beautiful and uplifting but that won’t always be the case. Sometimes the singing stinks. Sometimes there isn’t any music at all. Sometimes the priest is a good speaker that gets everyone fired up; however, the reality is that most priests do the best they can but they aren’t good speakers. Who hasn’t fallen asleep (or almost fallen asleep) listening to a priest who is monotone and uninspiring? And most times when you go to mass you aren’t going to have fluffy feelings. Sure, once in a while you’ll get an overwhelming emotional “something” when yo go to mass but more often you won’t. But here’s the thing, Mass isn’t about good music, good preaching or good feelings.

“What are you putting into the Mass?”

Do you show up for mass at the last second or late? Do you leave right after communion? Do you spend time talking with the Lord or chatting up the people around you? Do you let yourself get distracted or caught up in whatever is going through your mind? Is your heart and mind open to what the Lord wants to do or say to you during Mass? If so, how do you expect to get anything out of Mass if you aren’t willing to put any effort into it? I think it is safe to say that most of us know that the more we put ourselves into something the more we get out of it. This is true even with the Mass. Don’t get me wrong. We all have things that distract us. We all have crosses to bear and life can push its way into our minds, distracting us. But are you trying to make an effort? There are things we can do to prepare ourselves so that we can get more out of mass. I’ll talk about those things tomorrow.

What DO you get out of Mass?

JESUS! We get the honor and privilege of participating in the un-bloody sacrifice of the Lord. Jesus gives himself, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, completely to us in the Eucharist. He does this, not for Himself, but for us. God doesn’t need our worship, but we have a deep desire and need to worship HIM. We need to receive Him and be united to Him.

Another thing we get out of Mass is grace. We get God’s grace to help us and strengthen us in our daily lives, to help us avoid and overcome sin, and to live the life we have been called to live.

The secret to getting “something” out of Mass.

Want to know the secret to getting something out of Mass? Forget yourself. Just drop the idea that you are supposed to get something out of Mass. Refocus your attention to where it belongs – on Jesus. I promise you, if you shift your mindset and focus on Jesus, if you keep your heart and mind open, looking for Him to speak to you, He will.

Don’t get me wrong, if you have children, don’t ignore them if they need something or have to be settled down. If you have elderly parents, don’t pretend they aren’t there! What I’m saying here is do your best to focus on what is happening at the Altar, expecting God to touch you. Every time we receive the Eucharist Jesus comes to us. Let’s be ready to receive him. In tomorrow’s post I will offer some practical tips and ideas to help you do this.

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Comments

  1. Great post. It always drives me crazy when people say they don’t get anything out of Mass. Are thy expecting to be entertained?
    For me, Mass is about giving something back. Taking that one hour and worshipping The Lord. And then, to be able to receive Him in Word and Eucharist! Wow. Of course there are times when I want to be somewhere else, but I am always glad I went. I leave a different person every time. And filled up with joy!
    Jeff Cavins has a great talk in being fed and going to Mass. You can get it thru Ascension Press. Excellent.
    Colleen…recently posted…Deo Gratias – Easter BunnyMy Profile

  2. SimpleCatholic says:

    You hit the nail on the head, Colleen: we go to Mass to give something back. Again, God doesn’t need us to give Him anything back, but WE NEED to give something back.

    Thanks for the Jeff Cavins recommendation. I’ll check it out.

  3. Something that’s helped me lately, especially when I’m distracted, is to remember what “church” (“assembly,” “ekklesia”) means.

    “The word ekklesia was adopted in the Scriptures to describe those persons who were called out from the world at large: elected, chosen, separated. The eklektoi are the elected, the faithful, and those called to be saints.” The New Hiscox Guide for Baptist Churches, 9.

    God has gathered us. And what God has joined together …

    Peace

  4. Great post, Carol. In our parish, we’ve been blessed with priests who are dynamic speakers. Agreed that you need to forget yourself…and I also agree that it all comes down to grace. You ask whether people get to Mass at the last minute or leave after Communion. Many years ago, in our parish, after weeks of seeing many people leave after communion, our parish priest said: “You know, the first person to leave Mass early was Judas.” After that, no one left Mass early for months.
    Ellen Gable Hrkach…recently posted…Sunday Snippets – April 13My Profile

    • SimpleCatholic says:

      Oh, that would do it! We need more priests to say that!

    • WSquared says:

      Many years ago, in our parish, after weeks of seeing many people leave after communion, our parish priest said: “You know, the first person to leave Mass early was Judas.” After that, no one left Mass early for months.

      Kudos to your parish priest, Ellen. Fr. John Trigilio has a YouTube talk about reverence, which is about proper etiquette at Mass. In it, he covers not only what it means to dress modestly, but also leaving Mass early. Humorous, but absolutely spot on. He does have a sign at the back of his church that says: “Judas left Mass early, too!” He also remarks that a lot of folks try to excuse themselves with “Father, I gotta go!” to which he remarks: “Where you ‘gotta go‘? I’ll tell you where you’re gonna go if you keep leaving Mass early like that! The Lord will say, ‘you have no love for Me!'”

      • SimpleCatholic says:

        More priests should have a sign like that at the back of their churches! Fr. trigilio sounds like a clever man. I like how he responds to those who “gotta go.” 🙂

  5. Good post. I think that some people get nothing out of Mass because they don’t prepare for it. Jesus is there for us. He has, through Sacred Scripture, something to tell us that is relevant to His life and death, His saving work. I prepare by reading commentaries on the gospels and other Scripture quotes and asking God’s help to learn what He wants to teach me that day. It’s all about building a relationship with Christ. What kind of relationship do we have with Perfect Love Himself if we can’t stand to be in His presence?
    Barb Schoeneberger…recently posted…Signs of SpringMy Profile

    • SimpleCatholic says:

      Amen to that, Barb! Reading scripture commentaries are good ways to prepare for mass and give us an understanding of the scriptures that we are listening to each week.

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