Many graces are given by our Lord during the Mass. Certainly it makes no sense to squander them. What sense would it make to get a million dollars at a function only to lose it all in a few minutes afterward? I’ve said in the past, both in homilies as well as in this pastor page, that the longest distance in the spiritual journey is between the head and heart. Basically, what this means for all practical purposes is that one can learn lots of stuff and integrate little of it. Christ doesn’t want us to simply learn His truths He also wants us to put everything we learn into action. Christ says that many will come and say, “Lord, Lord,” and will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Why? Such people integrated little to nothing and thereby put nothing into action. Remember the good old days? Well, when I was a child it was insufficient to limit one’s confession to sins of commission, or what I did in fact that was sinful. I also was expected to confess sins of omission, which represents what I should have done, but didn’t. Hmm, how could I have put this teaching into action? Goodness! I didn’t even try to put anything into action since my last confession! Yes, this failure to do so is also sinful. Why? It indicates that there is still a severance between me and God. That’s sinful. It indicates that my relationship with God is not strong; in fact, it is weak. And yes, that too is another way of looking at sin. And if you bare wondering how the Church looks on such a concept these days, well, you should know that this understanding persists even now. Truth is truth. It is unchanging.
The Church strongly advises us to integrate what we know and to put it into action. The Church advises us for our own good. So what is a good way to nourish such integration? In my opinion, the Mass is a great place to start. It is our highest form of prayer. If we are so willing, we could experience it daily.
For most of us, we experience it at least on Sunday, but we could attend daily! In either case, it is most beneficial if we examine ourselves at Mass-our very attitudes-and see what ought to be improved upon.
Over the centuries, one persistent train of thought encouraged Catholic believers to reflect on their lives before Mass even began. The idea here was to develop the right frame of mind. As an example, if I am going to visit someone who really does not interest me, than I may think of anything else before I go to visit. And how will that visit go? I imagine that it will not be the best of get togethers. I may even hope, while there, that it would end soon. I’ll be bored. Now, on the other hand, let’s say that I am really excited about the person(s) that I will visit, and that I have lots to talk about already in my head.
Now that is a visit! And when I am with that person I don’t even notice the time passing. That is a quality visit! It’s the same at Mass. The Saints would always invite us to remember whose Presence we are in. But it takes a little while to do that, and for this reason we need to be silent and recollect.
After Communion we ought to take the time to thank God for allowing us to receive Him in such a sacramental way. We can use the same time to even consider a point we heard either in the Scriptures offered that day, or in the homily given, or both. And then we thank God for the insight! And then there is the end of Mass. First, shake off everything and anything that made you angry or irritable during Mass. That’s sinful; it distracts you from God and only feeds your severance from Him. It could block your ability to integrate some point that God was attempting to teach you. You might see such a moment as seed scattered on shallow ground. It won’t take root. Nothing will. Instead, sit in silence after the Mass; talk to God in your own words. Forgive whatever made you angry if such a state of affairs exists. Ask God instead to understand what was taught to you, and thank Him above all in allowing you to experience His Presence. Never squander opportunities like this! Take advantage of them instead! God bless you always!
Peace, Fr. Walter