You wouldn’t show up to play in a football game and expect to win if you had not been training. You wouldn’t show up unprepared to give a big presentation at work and expect to get the project. We don’t expect to excel in exams if we have not studied. Consider the preparation that goes into hosting a BBQ, a dinner party, or a wedding. We prepare for everything important in life. In every case preparation makes a wonderful experience possible. When was the last time you prepared for Mass?
The first step is preparation. It is necessary for a high-level experience. It is unreasonable to walk through the church doors as the music is beginning on Sunday and expect to have a powerful and personal spiritual experience without some preparation.
Let me offer you the first practical resolution that will radically improve your experience of Mass on Sunday and your relationship with God. Preparation may be the most powerful tool at your disposal to improve your experience of the Mass.
I would like to suggest that once a week, perhaps on Tuesday or Wednesday, you take time to read and reflect upon the coming Sunday’s Gospel. Just start with the Gospel. Perhaps in time you will move on to reflect on all of the readings, but for now, just start with the Gospel. If you are married, you may wish to share this experience with your spouse. Don’t just rush through it. Read next Sunday’s Gospel slowly and pick out a word or a phrase that strikes you or jumps out at you. Then read through it again. Again, be attentive for a word or phrase that strikes you. Maybe it will be the same word; maybe it will be a different word. It doesn’t matter. Read the passage three times. If the Word of God is to transform us we need to allow it to sink its roots deep into our lives through repetition and reflection.
Each time, think about why that particular word or phrase is prodding you. Is there something happening in your life that this word or phrase speaks to? Is there something you should be doing that makes this word or phrase prick your conscience? Perhaps there is something you shouldn’t be doing, and this word convicts you. Or maybe a word convicts you. Inspires you. Let the Holy Spirit work in you.
When you familiarize yourself with next Sunday’s Gospel, the Mass will no longer be just part of your routine. It will become a spiritual experience and part of your own personal adventure of salvation.
If you apply this one resolution to your life, and practice it with an open, honest, and humble heart, your own experience of Mass on Sunday will improve tremendously. And little by little, you will begin to draw closer to the man whose footprints have left an indelible mark in the dusty paths of human history.
Copyright © 2010 Beacon Publishing. Used with permission.
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