How to “Get Something” Out of Mass (Practical Steps)

In the previous installment of “How to ‘Get Something’ Out of Mass” I said I would share some practical tips and ideas for getting the most out of the Mass. Pick a few and them give them a try for a few weeks. If they work, great keep doing them and add a couple more. If not, scrap them, pick a couple different ones and try those.

Eucharist

(photo credit: Lawrence OP via photopin cc)

Before Mass:

1. Pray the Scriptures.

Sometime during the week, spend a few minutes reading  and praying over the Scripture readings for the coming Sunday. If you can read them on Saturday, that would be best that way they will be fresh on your mind come Sunday morning.

2. Get ready the night before.

Lay out the clothes and shoes for you and your family. Set the table for breakfast if you will be eating before the one-hour fast kicks in. Do whatever you can the night before that will make the morning go smoother and easier to get out the door in time for Mass.

3. Arrive 5-10 minutes early.

I know that sounds impossible, but if you can get to church early it will give you time to take the kids coats off (in winter), settle them down and do any last minute runs to the bathroom before Mass starts. It will also give you time do do #4.

4) Spend a few minutes in prayer.

Give your heart and mind a few minutes to quiet down and settle your heart. Re-read the scriptures for the Mass and give yourself to enter into the mystery that is about to begin.

During Mass:

5. Minimize distractions.

Getting rid of distractions all together is impossible. Well, it’s impossible for me, at least. But you can do things like avoid looking around the church, talking or whispering to those around you and such to minimize them. (One of the reasons I where a mantilla, or chapel veil is because it helps me to keep focused on what’s happening in front of me, not around me – but chapel veils is for a whole other topic of discussion!)

6. Stick to the missal.

This is actually a technique for avoiding distractions. Since the changes to the mass came out over a year ago we all went back to the missal to learn the new wordings. But whether you have all the responses memorized or not, reading along is a great way to keep focused. It also gives a whole new perspective. Sometimes when I’m following along with the priest by reading I’ll see something that I never noticed before.

7. Answer the responses.

A huge part of Mass is the communal participation of the faithful in the liturgy. We are supposed to respond at the appropriate places and sing along with the various songs at Mass. I don’t know about where you live, but where I live in NJ, the communal participation is sorely lacking. Very often the only people I hear singing along with the choir is myself (which is rather scary!) and my family.

After Mass:

8. Make your thanksgiving.

Years ago it was the norm that people would say for few minutes to thank the Lord after receiving communion. Nowadays, the priest is barely off the altar before people are rushing out of church. Resist that urge. Try and take a few minutes (or even one or two minutes) to make your thanksgiving and thank the Lord for coming to you. I remember being told by the sisters when I was with them that the body and blood of our Lord remain undigested for about 10 minutes after you receive communion. I don’t know for sure if that is true or not, but it’s certainly something being mindful of.

9. Discuss the Mass with your family.

On the car ride home or during lunch or dinner talk about the mass as a family. What was their favorite (or worst) part of the homily? What did the priest mean when he said such and such? How can we practically live out something that we heard at Mass today?

10. Prepare for next week.

The Mass is the most central part of our lives as Catholics. We are called to live out the liturgy in our lives and live for the liturgy (figuratively speaking.) Look forward to going to Mass each week. Go to daily Mass when you can. Read different books about what the saints say about the Mass. Read the Catechism of the Catholic Church about the Mass. The more you live your life within the liturgy the more the liturgy will live within you. (<–Tweetable!)

What about you? What are your favorite tips for getting the most out of Mass? If you feel like you don’t get anything out of Mass, why? We can all use a little help in getting the most out of the Mass so let’s get a conversation going about this.

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P.S. If you want support and accountability in living out your spiritual life, including getting the most out of Mass and prayer, I encourage you to get on a free clarity call with me. Together we can explore the possibility of working together in a way that further supports you and help you go deeper into your relationship with God.

 

What the Catholic Church Teaches about Marriage

The Lord has been putting it in my heart to do a little series on marriage* for a while, and since February is the ‘month of love’ with St. Valentine’s Day and all, I figured now would be a good as time as any to get it going. 🙂

In this first installment, I am going to talk about marriage as a sacrament based on Scripture and the Catechism. Then over the next couple of weeks I’ll talk about what makes a good marriage, loving your spouse and finally a post on submission (which always seems to be a hot topic!). So let’s get started:

Marriage as a Sacrament

Before we talk about marriage as a sacrament, let’s remind ourselves what a sacrament is. According to the Baltimore Catechism, a Sacrament is “an outward sign instituted by Christ to give grace.” The New Catechism states this a bit differently, a Sacrament is “an outward sign of an inward reality instituted by Christ to give grace.”

In the case of marriage, the outward sign would be the couple – husband and wife – itself. The inward reality, of course, would be Christ’s love for the Church.

As married people, we are a sign to the world of Christ’s abiding love for all people, the people whom He lived, suffered, died and rose again. We are a sign of the unseen heavenly realities of which our lives are directed. This is an incredible truth of our faith!

The Scriptural basis for marriage

You are probably familiar with many of the Scripture verses that relate to marriage, but let me remind you of one of them again. If you can, it may be nice to spend some time praying over this and the other verses during the month.

Genesis 2:21-24So the Lord God cast a deep sleep on the man and while he was asleep, he took out one of his ribs, and closed up its place with flesh. the Lord God then built up into a woman the rib that he had taken from the man. When he brought her to the man, the man said: ‘This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; This one shall be called ‘woman,’ for out of ‘her man’ this one has been taken.’ That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body.

This is one of several Scriptures. I encourage you to read Matthew 19:4-7, Mark 10:7-12, 1 Corinthians 7: 3-5, 2 Corinthians 11:2, Ephesians 5: 22-32, Revelation 19:6-8 for more verses, especially the ones pertaining to Christ and His Church.

What the catechism says about marriage

The catechism (articles 1601-1666) has some beautiful passages about the sacrament of marriage and I hope you will read them. There are a couple of powerful passages, however, that I want to point out:

“”The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament.” (article 1601)

“”By reason of their state in life and of their order, [Christian spouses] have their own special gifts in the People of God.” This grace proper to the sacrament of Matrimony is intended to perfect the couple’s love and to strengthen their indissoluble unity. By this grace they “help one another to attain holiness in their married life and in welcoming and educating their children.” (article 1641)

The word covenant is worth noting here. Remember God’s covenant to Abraham? God made an everlasting promise to Abraham. In marriage, a couple makes an everlasting (until death) covenant to each other, before God, which in turn grants them their “own special gifts in the people of God.”

The Purpose of the Sacrament of Marriage

The church teaches us that the purpose of the sacrament of marriage is twofold: to help each spouse to grow in holiness and the “procreation and education of offspring (1601).”

Simple words, yet they aren’t always easy live out! I think that’s why we need the special graces afforded to us in the Sacrament of Matrimony. In the day in and day out of living, we can forget the gift and the grace of our marriage state. It’s worth taking time time to reflect on our special calling once in a while. We need the reminder that marriage, Catholic marriage particularly, is so much more than what the world view of marriage shows us.

Next week I’ll get more practical and will share my thoughts on what makes a good marriage. 🙂

(Linked to Saints and Scripture Sunday)

*Just for your information, I will not be touching on topics such as divorce, marriage vs civil unions, birth control or other “hot” topics related to marriage in this series. I may in the future, but for now, I want to use this series to be an encouragement and support for those who are discerning marriage or who already married and looking to deepen their relationship with their spouse. 🙂