How to get more from the Mass: 5 Tips for a more engaged Mass
“And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that comes to me shall never hunger; and he that believes in me shall never thirst.” John 6:35
Now what does this verse mean? What shall we never hunger from? Or thirst from?
How many of us have been filled with that emptiness that is a result of seeking the fulfilment of our desires “our hungers and thirsts” in different places. Our forever quest to love and be loved, or our journey of striving to achieve more, do more – Be more? At the moment that we imagine we should have it all we reach the summit only to realise it was all a mirage, and the experiences turn into quicksand , dragging us in deeper, as we reach for the next thing we imagine will satisfy us , until we are utterly spent; parched, dry and lost.
Jesus invites us in this beautiful verse, to come to Him, He who is the Fountain of Life, who alone can satisfy our every desire, and heal our every wound. To come and be freed from the empty desires of the world, as He fills us with His Peace, His Love, and with His very Life. To Come and find Rest.
And this is our invitation to the Eucharist. Christ’s invitation to be one with us. To allow ourselves to Rest in him. To open ourselves to communion with Him. To surrender all we have to his will and plan for us.
“It is Jesus that you seek when you dream of happiness; he is waiting for you when nothing else you find satisfies you; he is the beauty to which you are so attracted; it is he who provokes you with that thirst for fullness that will not let you settle for compromise; it is he who urges you to shed the masks of a false life;… who stirs in you the desire to do something great with your lives.” – St. John Paul II
How to get more from the Mass: 5 Tips for a more engaged Mass
1. Go with a Hungry Heart.
“As the Deer pants for streams of water, so my soul longs for you, My God”. Psalm 42:1
This line from Psalm 42, also made into a beautiful hymn, puts into words the intense longing of our hearts to be in the courts of our Lord. It expresses a longing for the sweet presence of Jesus, that is similar to when we await eagerly to meet our closest friend or most beloved family member. I heard a priest once say that the mass truly begins the moment we have decided in our minds to attend the celebration. Therefore one tip is to begin preparing a long time before the mass. Hopefully this will allow the anxieties and cares of the world to fall away as we slowly draw closer to Him.
2. Pray with a contrite Spirit
“A contrite and Humble Heart you will not spurn oh God” Psalm 51:17
We are in the presence of the all-powerful, omnipotent and omnipresent God. All powerful yet abounding in love. He sees all and knows all. It is only fitting to give Him all the honour he is due. Remembering who he is before us and the immeasurable price he paid for us lets us acknowledge the times we have spurned his love and truly ask his pardon during the Penitential Rite.
3. Make a Willing Offering of Ourselves
“What can I give, what can I bring, that would be pleasing to my King.
I’ll give my Heart, not just a part, I’m giving up my everything.”
These lyrics from a popular song by Don Moen sums up the offering of ourselves during the offertory. We unify ourselves as one body of Christ and offer everything we are and wish to be - our desires, our plans, our weaknesses, strengths, joys and broken parts. We join them together with Jesus, our mediator, in His Body and Blood who purifies the offering making it a sweet smelling sacrifice pleasing to the Father.
4. Receive Him with Awe and Respect
“I found Him whom my soul loves” Song of Solomon 3:4
During Communion we are blessed with the grace to actually receive the Lord of Lords and Kings of Kings; to be truly one with him. The Bride and the Bridegroom becoming one.
We are partaking in one of the greatest mysteries all times. Let us then be mindful of this supreme act of love and receive the Holy Eucharist with reverence.
5. Thanksgiving for the celebration and spiritual nourishment
“…so, have I loved you. Now remain in my love.” John 15:9-12
Sit or kneel for a while in silence, in the solitude of our hearts, for a few moments after the mass has ended. Thank the Lord for the abundance of graces being poured out in our lives. The grace to attend the Mass is in itself an outpouring of His love and mercy as there are many who do not get the opportunity to do so.
Remain for a while and talk to Him, abiding in Him as he prepares your heart and mind giving you strength for the week and month ahead.
Many of us right now are facing difficulties due to the restrictions imposed due to the pandemic. The inability to be physically present at the Mass and participate in the celebration especially during this past Lenten time, is a real struggle. When I first attended mass in the UK it was a weekday and there was no choir or hymns sung, which for me was a first. Back home, I was used to being part of the choir in the midst of a crowded congregation, and was always preoccupied with various things such as hymn choices, mic arrangements and other minor details. Far from being discouraged though at the absence of music, much to my surprise, I found myself hanging on each word said and every prayer uttered. Everything took on greater meaning and there began a journey of reverence and awe in my soul that I had never experienced before. Sitting in an almost empty gothic cathedral, surrounded by beauty and nothing separating me from the Holy Eucharist right before my eyes, the world and all its distractions faded away. There was only myself and the sweet presence of Jesus all around, as I dwelt in silence, so beautiful and profound, that I could finally hear His voice in my Heart.
So to everyone undergoing this trial, feeling deeply the void in their lives due to the absence of mass, I invite you take this time as an invitation to look inwards, to journey deeper into our faith, to use this time of silence as a providential blessing and make this season of suffering into a time of grace and prayer. So here are 5 tips for opening ourselves up to the fullness of grace we can receive in the Mass, especially in this time when he is so, physically distant.