A deeper devotion

North Texas Catholic
(Jul 1, 2024) Faith-Inspiration

I was recently on retreat, and the priest who was the retreat master gave a moving talk about how to pray more deeply during the Mass.

In this modern world of super short attention spans, it is so very easy to get distracted during the liturgy. A path forward is to be more intentional and to bring our needs to the foot of the Eucharistic Jesus during the sacrifice of the Mass. 

What follows is a summary of his talk, outlining four distinct points that deserve special attention.

First, we have a beautiful opportunity to bring our prayers, concerns, and worries to Mass. It is helpful to prepare for this — maybe before we leave the house, on our way to the church, or as we sit in the pew, waiting for the liturgy to begin. This reflection prepares us for the “Collect,” the opening prayer in which the priest collects all the intentions of the faithful gathered and offers them to the Lord. 

In this moment, call to mind your intentions and the people you know who need prayer. Imagine these same intentions being brought to the altar during the offertory and again during the prayers of the faithful after the homily.

The next powerful way to focus our prayer at Mass is during the Eucharistic Prayer. As we are kneeling, the host is being consecrated on the paten and the wine in the chalice — these together are the elements of sacrifice in the Mass. The host is the Body of Christ being sacrificed for us all, and the wine is the healing Blood of Jesus. 

As this happens, imagine placing your need or the area that needs healing on the paten, and in the chalice, placing yourself or the person who needs healing.

For example, if a friend has cancer: imagine the cancer on the paten, and the person in the chalice. Alternatively, you place a sin you are struggling with on the paten and yourself in the chalice. In either case, you are bringing these needs to the sacrifice of the Mass, seeking healing from the crucified and risen Lord Jesus.

Thirdly, as the Body and Blood of Jesus are lifted, the priest intones: “Through Him, and with Him, and in Him, O God, almighty Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours, for ever and ever.”  

Put all your heart into the Great Amen as you raise in your heart the intentions you have brought to this Mass. In this “so be it” acclamation, we surrender our needs to the glory and power of the Triune God.

Finally, as the priest breaks the consecrated host during the Lamb of God, recall the blood and water that flows from the side of Jesus on the Cross. This is the great Divine Mercy flowing through humanity. 

At every Mass, we have the opportunity to bring our personal intentions to this moment of the celebration and let the blood and water flow over our needs.

These simple yet profound insights into praying the Mass can simultaneously help hold our attention during the celebration and raise the level of our prayerful participation.

It is important to note these ways to pray at Mass are not the focus of our participation. The focus is worship of God the Father, in His Son Jesus, through the power of the Holy Spirit.

In short, we do not come to Mass primarily to receive; rather we are there to give praise to God. 

Yet I find that the deeper I enter into the prayers of the Mass, the more genuinely I can raise my heart and soul in worship of the God who came to Earth to heal us from our sin and open wide the gates of glory.

In God’s great wisdom and grace, as we pour out our worship, God fills us with all we need.

Jeff Hedglen

Jeff Hedglen has been working in youth, campus, and young adult ministry for the Diocese of Fort Worth since 1986. He is currently the Director of Campus Ministry for the University Catholic Community at the University of Texas at Arlington. Find his regular columns for the North Texas Catholic here

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