We rush to church, get there just in time for Mass, then sit down only to be distracted. Maybe it’s something different in church, someone to talk to, or just getting the kids settled into the pew. When that happens, here are a few simple tips to help stay focused:
Begin to prepare before you arrive: Drive to church in silence. Turn off the radio. Shut your phone off. Leave those important conversations for after Mass. Let the silence sink in to transition your mind from the secular to the sacred.
Get to Mass early and pray. If praying is difficult, just sit and talk to God. Remind yourself you are in His presence and about to receive Jesus in the Eucharist. Thank Him for this gift of grace. The more time, the better, but ten minutes before Mass is better than none at all.
Sit close to the front. The front pews are the best seats in the house. But they are often empty during Mass. Kimberly and I discovered when our kids were very young they behaved better in the front pew than the back pew. They were fascinated to watch what was going on. It works for adults too.
Keep your hands folded in prayer. Posture is important. Your body reminds your heart and mind what they should be doing. Keep a reverent posture while sitting, standing, and kneeling. After all, you are in the presence of the King of the Universe!
Participate in the Mass. Mass is not a spectator sport. You are not there to be entertained. Say the prayers and sing the songs. Listen to the Scriptures. Wonder how they are speaking to you. Live in the Sacred Mystery of the bread and wine becoming the Precious Body and Blood of Jesus. The more you stay engaged, the more rewarding Mass is to your mind.
Bring back those wandering thoughts. Mass is the highest level of prayer we offer God. It’s the place where heaven and earth are joined. St Francis de Sales said if the heart wanders, gently bring it back into the Lord’s presence. Remind yourself you are in the Lord’s presence!
Add your prayers and sacrifices to those of the Mass. You bring your special prayer intentions and your personal sacrifices to every Mass. Offer them up Mass. When the priest says “Pray brethren, that my sacrifice AND YOURS may be acceptable to God, the almighty Father” consciously think of what these are for you.
Ask for help. Your Guardian Angel is always with you. Simply ask your guardian angel, who is adoring Christ in the eternal Mass along with you, to help you pray well and stay attentive.
We live in a fast-paced world. When we bring that world into Mass, so many things are bouncing around in our heads that we forget the most important thing happening in our world in that moment – Jesus is in the house! May we pray to stay focused at Mass and enjoy the special time in the presence of our God.