Last week, Fr. Keller talked about the beginning of Mass…which was interesting, yes, but what really stood out to me was what he said about when we begin Mass.
In the past, Catholics would get to Mass early, and there would be some one leading prayer by reading the Psalms aloud, and other people would join in by reading the Psalms and praying them. The reading of the Psalms was used to set the mood of prayer and to put you in the presence of God.
So, why did we stop doing this? Why don’t we do it on our own? Why don’t I do it on my own? Why don’t I spend all of Sunday morning before Mass in prayer, at home, or at least get to Church earlier to spend some time in prayer and preparing myself for Mass? Really! I am almost angry about the lack of preparation before Mass in the Church today.
For my First Holy Eucharist, my entire family (parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins,) made me a scrapbook with pictures from their First Eucharist and a short story of what they remember. My Sittie and Gido (Arabic for grandmother and grandfather respectively) both had to fast from midnight until they received the Eucharist, and had to wake up extra early to walk to church. My Nana helped her mother to make her dress, which was the habit of Saint Rosa de Lima but in all white. She made her First Eucharist on December 8th, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception and her father’s birthday. To this day, it remains one of the most important days of her year.
We receive that same Eucharist…the Eucharist that deserves our entirety…every time we attend Mass. It is the single greatest thing on this Earth. Literally. It’s the ultimate question. What is the greatest thing ever? The Eucharist. But we prepare more for a highschool dance than we do for Mass. We probably have spent more time watching television or a movie or any other media interaction than we ever have in prayer, let alone in prayer preparing for Mass.
But why? Why would we do that?
Because God made us to.
If He had wanted us to spend all or even a quarter of our life in prayer, worshipping Him and giving Him praise, He would have just saved every one a whole lot of trouble and made us angels. That’s what angels do. They’re the next closest thing to perfect. They need nothing else but God. They want nothing else but God. But we’re not angels. We’re not perfect. (You listening, Fr. Michael?) And that’s okay because we’re not supposed to be.
We’re supposed to be human. As imperfect, as incompetent, as deep in sin and doubt all the days of our earthly lives as we are, God made us to be. So that when we sin, when we fall, or when we simply don’t pray or prepare for Mass, God can give us the grace we need to rise and glorify Him. If it wasn’t difficult to prepare for Mass, we would never understand how incredible Mass is.
Let us all pray to the Holy Spirit for guidance in our prayer and for strength that we might be able to prepare for Mass as the Mass truly deserves.
“Lord, teach us how to pray.”