It’s Sunday morning
Your alarm goes off and you sit up in bed. Slowly, an enormous smile creeps across your face.
You get to go to Mass today.
As you drive to your parish, you tap out the rhythm of your favorite hymn on the steering wheel.
It’s only been a few days since you last saw him, but you can’t wait to see Jesus again.
Walking through the doors of your parish, you notice that it feels different inside.
The air is thicker, like in the moments before it rains. The space is getting ready for heaven to open up, pour down graces, and unite with earth in the Eucharist.
The priest says, “The Lord be with you.”
... and for a moment you're standing beside Mary, staring at the glimmering figure of the Archangel Gabriel.
"Hail, full of grace. The Lord is with you"
Just as God was with her, he will soon come to be with you in the Blessed Sacrament.
Suddenly, the knot in your chest that has been there since Tuesday loosens. You breathe a little deeper. That huge project at work doesn’t seem nearly as scary.
The lector reads from Second Corinthians about how Christ’s power is made perfect in weakness. He concludes “for when I am weak, then I am strong” (12:10).
You’ve heard this passage before, but it finally clicks in your head.
You remember the dozens of times this week when you felt inadequate, and it’s like God is standing next to you saying, “I’ve got this.”
At the Offertory, you take everything that was going on in your heart this week—an argument with your husband, the meeting that didn’t go the way you wanted, the child you’re worried about, and the voices in your head telling you that you’re not enough—and lay them up on the altar along with the gifts of bread and wine.
A young couple in the pew behind notice you sitting up a little straighter, as if a huge burden has been lifted off your shoulders.
The bread and wine are consecrated, and the atmosphere in the Church is charged. The Holy Spirit’s presence is so tangible you could cut it with a knife.
During the Sign of Peace, you shake the hand of the man standing next to you. His hands are rough ... like the hands of a carpenter.
In his eyes, you see Jesus for a moment. It's just a glimpse, so brief you wonder if you saw anything at all.
... but in your heart you know you saw him.
When the time comes to pray the Our Father, the church falls away and you see rolling hills in front of you and an expanse of water at the foot of them—the sea of Galilee.
There are small villages around the sea, but you can hardly see them because of all the people around you. Jesus is fifteen feet in front of you, teaching you how to pray.
After Communion, your heart is overflowing with gratitude for Christ’s gifts to us.
His presence fills you.
When Mass is over, your heart aches like when someone you love has to leave.
As you walk out of the vestibule you say to Father, "Can't wait until next week."
For the rest of that week, you find it easier to be patient with people.
Your husband notices that you’re more kind.
Everyone in your life sees that something has changed. You’re different.
But what does Mass feel like for you now?
As you drive to Mass these days, you can’t help but think about all the other things you need to get done.
You make it “sort of” on time and sneak into a side pew during the Introductory Rites.
An enormous yawn catches you off guard right in the middle of a “Lord have mercy,” and you make a strange sound.
(The folks in the pew ahead of you can’t help but peek behind them to see what the source of that “yawp” was.)
You’re thinking about how soft your bed feels compared to the hard wooden pews.
Suddenly, you notice you are stuck to the pew! An old piece of abandoned gum has latched onto your dress.
As the lector goes through the readings, all that you can think about are his nasal voice and how he emphasizes the wrong syllables.
Forget about focusing on the homily. Your stomach rumbles, and people around you are creating a sea of whispers in their side conversations.
(You can hardly hear the priest anyway because his microphone is turned down and one of the church speakers is broken.)
By the time you get to the Offertory, you feel like you haven’t absorbed one word and are wondering why you’re there in the first place.
You can sense the shifting eyes all around you, and you can’t help but feel judged.
The thoughts going through your head include: “Is my skirt too short?” . . . “Do you think someone noticed that I wasn’t here last week?” . . . “Maybe I should sign up for coffee hour so I seem more involved.”
There are kids slamming kneelers down, and the lady in the front left is hacking up a storm.
During the Consecration, your mind can’t get off the blood-curdling scream of the baby on your left and the musical abilities of the cantor, which aren’t much better.
Someone decided it was a great idea to turn up the air conditioning, and, by the time Communion is finished, you feel like you just spent the last hour in a refrigerator.
At the Final Blessing, when the priest says “The Mass is ended,” you say, “Thanks be to God,” and are just grateful that it’s over.
At that point, it’s a race to the car to see if you can get out of there while avoiding any conversations.
But you lose the race.
Lucy dives in front of you, swiftly blocking your way to the exit. You stop in your tracks and shift your weight from foot to foot, nodding and smiling for twenty minutes straight as she talks about her brother’s daughter’s friend's birthday party.
Finally, you manage to escape, making it to your car just in time for post-Mass rush hour traffic.
The woman in front of you, holding her Rosary so gently in church, swerves out in front of you, and the church parking lot almost becomes a pileup.
As you pull out of the parking lot, you finally have a second to think.
You have a nagging feeling in your heart that you should be experiencing more during Mass.
Sunday after Sunday, you come out of Mass empty, making you feel like you’re just going through the motions.
You know the Mass is the summit of the Catholic Faith, but all you see at the summit is fog.
There are vast expanses of grace and powerful encounters with Jesus waiting for you, but it all feels beyond your reach.
I’d love to have a great Mass, except ...
A great Mass is only for “great saints.”
Right now, a Mass in which you experience powerful prayer and feel close to God seems like a lofty and unattainable ideal. A pipe dream.
You may feel like you’re not holy or reverent enough:
You don’t pray enough Rosaries;
You don’t have enough Holy Hours logged;
And you haven’t served others deeply enough for God to encounter you in the Liturgy.
Compared to the people sitting in the pews, you feel out of your league.
You may feel like you just aren’t “Catholic enough” to get the most out of Mass.
Maybe St. Joseph of Cupertino, floating above the ground in a mystical trance, might be able to enter into the Mass, but not you.
There’s a reason you feel this way.
Someone is behind that feeling.
He has an extremely vested interest in keeping you far away from the altar.
Satan wants you to believe that you don’t belong at Mass and that it is impossible for you to encounter God each Sunday.
And who is Satan? The father of lies.
You are completely qualified to have a powerful experience at Mass. God doesn’t ask for a résumé at the door.
Our all-powerful God is there, present, waiting, and eager to encounter you.
He doesn’t want to wait while you try and tidy yourself up.
He wants you just the way you are.
Only people at good parishes have great Masses.
Or maybe you’d love to have a meaningful experience at Mass, but your parish just doesn’t seem to be the proper backdrop.
The priest’s homilies are subpar.
The paint is chipping on the walls.
And the music, shall we say, doesn’t always seem to reflect God’s beauty.
If there weren’t so many distractions, if they had a better sound system, if there weren’t so many noisy children, you would have a fantastically reverent and prayerful Mass.
Isn’t this the way of the world?
We, in our fallen humanity, get tripped up.
We lose sight of God’s face as we get distracted by those things right in front of us.
But the truth is, no matter what your parish looks or feels like, you can have a great experience at Mass.
You are in complete control of what you get out of your time with God.
You already have everything you need.
There are no prerequisites to having an encounter with God every Sunday, not your parish or your sainthood status.
Time is of the essence
There is nothing holding you back, which is a really good thing.
Because it’s important that we take action.
As Catholics, we simply can’t afford to put this off any longer.
With each passing year, we see the world grow more secular.
The Age of Christendom has passed, and we’re now living in a post-Christian world.
What does this new world tell us?
We’re told that Catholicism and going to Mass is unnecessary and irrelevant to our lives.
Many people believe that the Catholic Church is outdated.
“It’s just an artifact of ancient times.”
They’re already planning their celebrations for when Christianty is officially declared “dead.”
As time goes on, it will become even more of an uphill battle to be a Catholic in this world.
Those around us will be growing less and less Christian.
How will that environment impact us?
If you’re having a hard time entering into the Mass now, in five years it will only be harder.
It’s a chink in your armor.
And that’s a weakness you can be sure Satan will exploit.
You must address it now, so he doesn’t have the chance.
Now, more than ever, we need to know what we believe and why we believe it.
Because, it doesn’t stop there ...
These days, we are assaulted with input.
With all the world’s knowledge at our fingertips, we are dealing with information overload.
Cell phones, online news sites, and social media have us consuming 350% more data than we were just thirty years ago.
With all of this going on in your brain, it’s no wonder you are having a hard time focusing at Mass!
It’s only going to get worse.
They’re adding computers to your refrigerator to tell you when it’s time to get more milk.
Your vacuum is now a little robot that buzzes around your floors like a cocker spaniel.
The world is getting noisier every day.
As much as we wish we could stop it, it’s happening.
All we can do is practice shifting our attention.
To turn our eyes to our Creator and find him smiling down on us.
We need to get good at finding our focus again—on what is truly important.
On Who is truly important.
And there is good news!
The lifting of the pandemic restrictions.
We do have something going in our favor, right now, that can help us!
As the pandemic begins to abate in many places, praise God, churches are opening their doors again for public Masses.
Slowly, Catholics are coming back to Mass.
It’s like a beautiful reunion after being away for so long.
For many of us, absence has made the heart grow fonder.
We’re seeing the liturgy with fresh eyes for perhaps the first time in our lives.
It forces us to remember why we come to church in the first place.
Let’s not stop there.
Let’s go further and capitalize on this momentum taking us back into the Mass.
Let’s go deeper.
There’s no better time to learn more about the Mass, and remember why you’re Catholic.
Jesus is there, just waiting for us!
And we get it.
Right now, maybe you feel like each Mass is a wrestling match with a toddler who suddenly has the brute strength and determination of a pit bull the moment you walk through the church doors.
It feels impossible to have any recollection of what the priest said, much less a powerful and prayerful experience at Mass.
How can the Mass come alive for you again?
A Biblical Walk Through the Mass
A Biblical Walk Through the Mass explores the deep biblical roots of the liturgy and reveals what it means and why it matters. This fascinating tour of the Mass will renew your faith and deepen your love for and devotion to the Eucharist and the celebration of the Mass.