EVERYTHING YOU WANTED TO ASK ABOUT THE MASS BUT WAS AFRAID TO ASK.
At St. Francis of Assisi Parish, before the start of the Mass, the lector asks the people to put ourselves in sacred silence as we prepare ourselves for Mass. What is the sacred silence for?
Have you heard people say that they did not want to go to Mass because they did not get anything out of it and it bored them? This complaint is common, and the answer to the question about sacred silence is related to that complaint. If we are not getting anything out of the Mass, perhaps we have not opened ourselves up to the great gift that God wishes to give us—His Son. Perhaps, there is something blocking our mind, our heart, or our soul. To be sure, going to Mass is not for us to be entertained like when we go to a concert. We go to Mass to receive this great gift that God wishes us to have—His Son. If we want to get something out of the Mass, we must remove whatever block we have and open our mind, heart and soul to receive the rays of God’s grace. What are some of the blocks that are common? One is that our head is blocked. Some of us find fault with the way the Mass is celebrated. We criticize the music, the way the liturgy is done. We criticize people we see. The Mass is not a place for us to sit back like in a movie and play critics to find fault about the movie; rather, it is a place to encounter Jesus Christ. If we are waiting for the “perfect” priest to celebrate Mass for us, we will miss out on the great graces our Lord wishes to bring to us. Second, our hearts are blocked. When we come to Mass filled with desires and wants, it becomes almost impossible for us to feel the presence of God. The root of whatever our heart desires really is communion with God. St. Augustine says, “our hearts are restless until it rests in thee”, that is, in God. This does not mean we ought to just ignore our desires and pretend they are not there. What we can do is to bring these desires, these worries, anxieties to God in the context of what God is saying to us during Mass. When we bring our hearts to Mass and open them up to our Lord, He will fill them. Finally, our whole body is blocked. At times we feel we are not even worthy to step into the church because of our sins. We feel like hypocrites. The fact is none of those in the church are saints. We are all sinners. If you are convinced of your sinfulness, then be joyful, because it is precisely because of you that our Lord died. Christ died while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8). God is rich in mercy and wishes all to be saved. He wants us to receive His Son when we go to Church. When you find yourself ready to critique other people or the way something is being done at Mass, turn that judgment into prayer. If you find your mind wandering during Mass, take a moment to focus on what has your attention. Present to God your heart’s desires and ask him for the wisdom to understand what they mean. If you feel unworthy to be in the Church, ask for the grace to recognize that Jesus Christ died for you and desires to have you in union with him with His Father. Acknowledge God is present in the Mass, in the Eucharist. Tell Jesus all your concerns, and ask Him to be more real to you in your midst and be aware that you will take that presence with you when you leave the church. You can’t do this if there is no sacred silence to allow you to become aware of the presence of God. In one of his General Audiences (Wednesday, 15, November 2017) with the people, Pope Francis said: “When we go to Mass, perhaps we arrive five minutes early and begin to chat with the person next to us. But this is not the moment for small talk; it is the moment of silence to prepare ourselves for the dialogue. It is a moment for recollection within the heart, to prepare ourselves for the encounter with Jesus. Silence is important…we are not going to a spectacle, we are going to the encounter with the Lord, and silence prepares us and accompanies us…From this mysterious silence of God springs his Word which resonates in our heart.” Until next time.