When you go to a concert or ballgame, do you ever get there late? How about when you attend a play, or movie? I think most people try to get to events like this early. I know, sometimes, there’s unavoidable traffic, or something gets in the way, but in general, most people will stand in line for hours to get tickets, and then stand in line to get into the venue with plenty of time before the event starts. Also, I don’t know about you, but when I have a concert in the works, I’m listening to the music of the artist for days prior, and then we listen to the exact songs, the same way, when we get there. Same thing if your favorite author comes to town to autograph his latest book. And has anyone seen the lines in front of the Cake Boss’s bakery? And I cannot blame anyone for this behavior.
Now, to address the title of this post, let’s consider how we prepare for Mass…
Before Mass, people act like they’re meeting their neighbors at the market, instead of entering the presence of God. The point is that, if God is important to you, you should prepare to be in His presence when you go to worship Him. One writer I’ve been reading suggests picking up the Mass readings for every Sunday…on Wednesday. And read them, as a family, out loud, a couple of times, prayerfully. Between Thursday, and Sunday, you should spend some time mulling these readings over in your mind. It doesn’t take much-15-30 minutes. But do it, and pray over these readings. Make a plan, such as an appointment with God, to attend a certain Mass at a certain time. I used to wedge going to Mass into whatever the football schedule showed, but realized that this isn’t the way to worship the God of the Universe. So I attend the same Mass every week. It helps that my parish has one Mass on Saturday and one on Sunday, with a second on Sunday at the mission church down the road. But make an appointment with God to attend Mass. And then, when you wake up on Sunday, prepare to enter His presence. Maybe read the readings again. Think about what you’re going to do at Mass, and not worry about what’s coming up after. Be quiet, and get quieter as you approach the sanctuary. The closer you get, the quieter you get, as a group. Maybe, as you pull into the parking lot (15 minutes early, so you can push out all the distractions), before you open the car door, say a prayer. And as you climb the steps to the sanctuary, put yourself in a frame of mind to be ready to see God. He’s there, you know, in the tabernacle. Do not greet people, just yet. A silent nod of acknowledgement, ok, but focus your mind on God. As you come into the pew, settle. Kneel in front of your Lord and Savior, and ask him to speak to your heart.
Another suggestion is to keep a Mass Journal. Go to Mass with a purpose. Ask God every Mass to show you one thing you can do to be the best version of yourself. Write it down. Figure out how to implement it later. You know that, if you were going to interview the President of the US, you’d have some sort of recording device so you can take down every word. Be consistent with this.
When the priest dismisses the congregation, remember that the Mass really never ends, and that you’ve just been in the presence of God. Act like a Christian as you exit the sanctuary. Encourage Father, thank him for his homily, let him know you really listened. (Don’t read the bulletin during the homily…at my parish, the bulletin gets put out at the end of Mass). Make friends and linger. Now is the time to talk to your friends and acquaintences. Outside, or in the parish hall.