The Living Rite column explores what you will see, hear, taste, touch or smell while at church this weekend.
Listening to the Gospel this Sunday, we could only hope that our encounter with Jesus each time we attend Mass would be similar. We’d like an experience so awesome that we don’t care if the Packers are playing at 1 p.m., we just want to stay here, in this liturgy, forever.
However, to be realistic, many times when we come to Mass we may feel more like we are in the desert, a place of lifelessness. The music, Scriptures or the homily do not touch us. Even making our way forward, to receive Jesus in the Eucharist, feels like a rote activity.
What can we do to prevent ourselves from slipping into a liturgical desert? It is so easy to say, “I get nothing out of the Mass.” Perhaps we need to ask ourselves instead, “What am I bringing to the Mass?”
Is attending Sunday Mass the top priority in your life? How do you prepare yourself before coming to Mass? Sometime, earlier in the week, do you make time to look at the upcoming Scriptures? If you do not already do so, weekly reading of The Compass provides you with many resources for preparing for the Sunday Mass.
Do you plan your “home time” so that you aren’t rushing into church just under the wire? Do you allow yourself time before Mass for the opportunity to reconnect with your parish community, as well as have time in quiet prayer? How do you travel to church? Is the radio turned up full blast or, if you are a passenger, are you on your phone?
Have you ever considered making the trip to church in a spirit of silence or quiet conversation about what you are about to do? You might even quiz yourself as to what last week’s homily was about and how you lived out the Gospel message this past week.
Do you actively remind yourself each week to keep a fast in preparation to receive holy Communion? Are you intentional in your participation at Mass? Do you try your best to stay focused on who you have come to worship and receive, as well as what needs you bring to this time of prayer.
Do you conclude your time at the liturgy with a prayer of gratitude? The first prayer of gratitude should be to Jesus, who has been so intimately connected to you in word and sacrament during the Mass. The second prayer of gratitude might be for those others who brought their best to the community: your priest, the liturgical ministers and the sacristans, those who work behind the scenes. Finally, offer thanks for the rest of the assembly, who like you, may fall short, but who still made the effort to come to Mass and give their best.
Perhaps, if we do just a few of these things, we will discover within ourselves the promise of the prophet Isaiah “The desert shall rejoice and blossom like a rose” (Is 35:1, KJV).
Zahorik is pastoral associate at Most Blessed Sacrament Parish, Oshkosh.