As I think about Holy Mass, I shudder about the inadequacy of my participation. Yes, I go to Holy Mass when I am supposed to, in fact, I sing in the choir. But often enough my mind is half asleep, and I am not consciously present. And I know that is wrong, sometimes we cannot help it, but at other times we feel comfy and make no great effort to listen. It all leads to the often-asked question: "What did you bring to Holy Mass?" Jesus is looking for us, in fact, He greatly desires our participation.
In our prayer time, even though God knows all, He loves to be told what we are doing, perhaps why we are doing it, and how much we love Him. At Holy Mass, He re-experiences, and allows us to experience again, His crucifixion and that takes our full attention. If we cannot stay awake, go to a later Mass. I know, that doesn't help me, because the choir Mass begins at 8:45 AM. In addition, the choir sits in front of the St. Joseph's Altar, and in my parish, I cannot make eye contact with the Altar from there. That is something I truly miss. But for people who do not sing in my particular parish, you do not have that problem and so there is really no excuse. OK, so you are not feeling well. If you feel well enough to go to the Church, please try to pay attention.
I am re-reading a report "The Holy Mass" based on an explanation given by Jesus and Mary to Catalina Rivas of Bolivia. That is very inspirational reading. Since it is covered by copyright, I cannot reproduce it here, but it's on the web, and you will find it when you search for it. Also, for anyone who has read the diary of Saint Faustina Kowalsky, you will remember similar writing given to the dear Sister by Our Lord.
So let us prepare for Holy Mass. That begins already when you realize the intention to get into your car to go to Church. If you are alone, acknowledge the Holy Trinity as you begin your drive. If you are with family or friends, pray for them, for their safety and that Our Lord may envelop them (and you) with His protection as you begin your trip to Church. For us small-town people, that's simple, but many of you live in large cities amid lots of traffic that demands your full attention.
Arriving at the Church, if you can, GENUFLECT ... He is worth it! He awaits a sign of your respect eagerly and He showers you with His Graces when you do. In my parish, the Tabernacle faces the Congregation and is clearly visible from all parts of the church. Then why is it, that so many people come in to church and face each other, babbling away about some inoccuous subject that really is unimportant. Your attention should be focused on the Tabernacle because that is where Jesus is!
Yes, it is good to greet friends and others, but greet Jesus and His Mother Mary first! Then when you greet others, do so softly and briefly. You are happy they are present to worship with you, but last night's football discussion really can wait till after Mass!
During the time we sit in the pew waiting for the celebrant to stride down the aisle and enter the Sanctuary, keep looking at the Tabernacle and come to the realization that Jesus is welcoming you. He has something to say to all of us as we wait. Listen to His voice. Give Him your full attention. And if you are still restless, pray as you always do or begin a Rosary to honor His Mother, our Mother Mary. You can interrupt the Rosary when Mass begins, that's allowed! When Mass begins your eyes should be on the Altar and also your full attention.
Be attentive to the Homily. The priest or deacon who presents the homily has worked hard to bring a cohesive teaching on today's readings and with the assistance of the Holy Spirit he now delivers it the best he can. Not all priests are expert preachers as you may have noticed, but they still deserve our full attention and respect.
Beginning with the Creed & Prayers of the Faithful, begins the most important part of the Mass. At the singing or spoken "Holy, Holy, Holy" just imagine our Guardian Angels present, as they always are, singing or speaking with you. This is Palm Sunday all over again, where Jesus triumphantly rode into Jerusalem. As He and the Apostles prepared to meet in the Upper Room for the Last Supper, the Agony in the Garden, the Way of the Cross, and the Crucifixion, we are preparing for the very same thing, as we listen attentively to the priest reciting the words of the Canon leading up to the Consecration.
The Consecration of the bread and wine into the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ is the high point of the Mass ... let us thank Him for making these moments available for us, for allowing us to honor Him at every Holy Mass. With our eyes, inwardly, we see all the Saints and Angels present among us, all singing Alleluia to the Lamb of God. By our baptism and our life's dedication to Jesus, we are saved. He has told us so, but He would like to hear it from our lips over and over again.
The Mass is so rich, because Jesus is really and truely present among us, and not only during the Mass, but as we receive Him and in our homes among family members. Let us really strive to curtail sin, because this is a sign of love for Him. Clean up your language if you have that problem, get some purpose to your life. And to all Franciscan brothers and sisters, I do not have to re-emphasize what Jesus means to us. Let us be witnesses of His love to everyone else. Attend Mass on all Sundays and designated Holidays, and many times in between.
"O Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, I adore Thee profoundly, and I offer Thee the most Precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges, and indifferences by which He is offended. By the infinite merits of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, in union with the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg of Thee the conversion of poor sinners." (Fatima - Angel's Prayer)
In Our Eucharistic Lord,
Fred Schaeffer, OFS
August 1, 2011
Secular Franciscan Order
Ordo Franciscanus Sæcularis
Divine Mercy Fraternity
Vero Beach, FL
Officers as of 1/10/2016
Fred Schaeffer, OFS
Helen Caldarone, OFS
Mary "Jean" McGovern, OFS
Jack Reddy, OFS*
Donna Haro, OFS
Councillors at Large:
* eff. 1/1/2018
Fred Schaeffer, OFS