Practical Ways to Prepare
1. Commit to Going Every Sunday
First and foremost, you have to go to Mass every week. It’s not going to be very beneficial for you if you’re only going when you feel like it. I know you are busy, we all are. But you wouldn’t miss a meal just because you were busy. If you don’t feed yourself you are going to go hungry. Make a commitment to yourself, your family, and to God that you will go to Mass every Sunday. You could even make it your New Year’s resolution.
2. Read the Mass Readings Ahead of Time
The great thing about the readings at Mass is that you can look them up in advance. Our liturgy follows a three-year cycle that walks us through the entire Bible. But one problem I’ll admit is that sometimes it’s difficult to hear or even understand the readings. Not to blame the lector, but sometimes you just can’t hear them. Then you leave Mass feeling unfed. That’s why I recommend you read the readings ahead of time. You can look them up on the liturgical calendar. Not only will you feel more prepared at Mass having made yourself familiar with the readings, but you will also get to know God through the scripture and learn how to navigate the Bible.
3. Reflect on the Readings
Once you have read the readings you should also reflect on their meaning. Sometimes God’s voice is very clear, but other times not so much. If you are reading and reflecting with your family, then discuss and share your thoughts and insights. How is God speaking to you through these passages? If you still have trouble you can find reflections on the readings to help you grasp the meaning and relate them to your daily life. I also recommend subscribing to The Word Among Us or Magnificat, which are small publications that contain not only the readings for each day of the month, but also a sort of mini-homily that will help you to reflect on the readings. Both of these are available in print form and digital form.
4. Get to Mass Early
Would you arrive late to a dinner date? Of course not. Well the same applies when you are going to Mass. Make it a habit to arrive 10-15 minutes early. Remember, you are coming out of a noisy world and you need to be able to leave all of that behind to be with the Lord. It takes a few minutes for most people to do this. Fix your eyes on the crucifix or slip into the adoration chapel and just sit in silence for a few moments. You will find it to be much easier to focus during the Mass when you’re not thinking about what’s for lunch or who is winning the game.
5. Spend a Few Moments in Prayer
After you’ve cleared your mind of all distractions, talk to God. After all, that is the reason you are at Mass, right? Ask Him for His guidance, that He may speak to you during the Mass and fill you with His grace, mercy, and love. You can’t be filled unless you have opened yourself to receive. Offer your open heart and mind to the Lord. Then continue to pray throughout the Mass. The Mass is a prayer after all. Ask for forgiveness from your sins, listen to God speak to you in the readings and through the priest, offer yourself to Him, and give thanks that He has so freely and humbly given Himself to you in the Eucharist.
How do you prepare yourself for Mass on Sunday?