Today, I’m thinking about how a faithful Catholic often finds himself or herself being distracted during Holy Mass. I feel I am eminently qualified to write on this topic because happens to me and nothing makes one better qualified to write about something than personal experience. Lately, I have met this seemingly disgraceful pattern of behavior with some original prayers. I would like to share them with you.
The first one occurs during the penitential rite, the prayer the congregation prays as a group at the beginning of the Mass. Its purpose is to “call to mind our sins” in preparation for this most solemn celebration so that we can tell the Lord “I’m sorry” and beg forgiveness before proceeding. Here is the prayer: “I confess to almighty God and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have greatly sinned, in my thoughts and in my words, in what if have done and what I have failed to do, through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault; therefore I ask the blessed Mary ever-Virgin, all the angels and saints, and you, my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord our God.” Notice the appeal “to pray to you, my brothers and sisters.” In other words, everyone present is appealing to everyone else present to pray for them. In this case, I combat distractions by silently uttering a prayer for all present and ask the Lord to forgive their sins, which is, after all, what they are asking me to do.
The second one occurs during the consecration – the point at Mass at which the celebrant (the priest) speaks the words of Jesus at the Last Supper which transubstantiates the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ. This is the most solemn moment at Mass and deserves my undivided attention, i.e., no distractions! And so, after the celebrant consecrates the bread with those sacred words and during the brief moment of silence that follows, I silently articulate this prayer: “The body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ are present on this altar right here, right now.” And then, after the consecration of the wine, I say this: “The blood of Christ, shed at Calvary, is present in this chalice on this altar right here, right now. These prayers help immensely to focus on the most sacred mysteries that just occurred.
The third that I would like to share occurs when I receive the Lord in Holy Communion. In order to concentrate fully on what is happening, I repeat, over and over, my favorite Scripture passage, John 6:54: “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” I do that over and over again until I am confident that have paid close attention to each and every thought and word expressed in this passage.
So if you find your mind wondering during Mass, try my prayers, or make up your own. I can attest that it draws you closer to the Lord during this most holy and awesome occasion, the Holy Mass.