7 Tips to Help You Stay Focused at Mass is similar to our previous article 11 Great Ways To Prepare For Mass. Read both for a more complete guide on the subject.
The Catholic Church has always understood prayer to be a battle:
Prayer is both a gift of grace and a determined response on our part. It always presupposes effort. The great figures of prayer of the Old Covenant before Christ, as well as the Mother of God, the saints, and he himself, all teach us this: prayer is a battle. Against whom? Against ourselves and against the wiles of the tempter who does all he can to turn man away from prayer, away from union with God. We pray as we live because we live as we pray. If we do not want to act habitually according to the Spirit of Christ, neither can we pray habitually in his name. The “spiritual battle” of the Christian’s new life is inseparable from the battle of prayer.CCC 2725
There is a constant effort from hell to keep us from prayer. The good news is, we do not need to offer what we think is “perfect” prayer free of every distraction that does not exist. Perfect prayer is a prayer prayed by God to God. That may sound weird but think about it, the Holy Spirit in our heart helps us pray, and the most powerful prayer we can offer to God is joining at Mass. The Holy Mass is possible because of Christ’s power acting through the priest. Without union with God, praying to God would have been more challenging and less perfect. Therefore now we rejoice that whenever we offer Mass, God sees his own Son in our Community and hears us.
But just because it is humanly impossible to achieve perfect focus at Mass does not mean we cannot come as close as is humanly possible. Here are a few tips to help us focus at Mass.
Quiet your mind on the way to Mass:
Turn off any form of mundane music or talk show on the way to Mass. If you have anything more spiritual, like the music of John Michael Talbot, you can listen to this. If you do not have any music rich in Catholic theology, then meditate on the meaning of Mass. Gather your heart so you can enter that space in your heart where you have more control of your thoughts.
Get to Mass early:
Remember going early to Mass does not mean going before the Sign of the Cross. I recommend arriving at least 10 minutes before the procession. The procession is the beginning of the Mass, so arrive minutes before to collect your thoughts more. Say a few preparatory prayers, or call on the help of our Mother Mary, who is arguably the only human to offer perfect prayer to God while on earth. Remind yourself that now you are in the presence of God. Meditate on his glory as right now you are covered in his light and powerful presence. Let this fill you with humility, remorse for sin, and joy for his abundant gift of forgiveness. Most importantly, prepare to receive him in the Eucharist, be thrilled, and let your heart move with joy for this. Or with sorry for the sin causing you to skip communion for that day.
Sit in front:
Sit as close to the altar as possible so you can participate more fully. You can hear the priest better and meditate on the gestures and rituals of the Mass. Sitting too far off the back is okay but should not be your first choice if you come early. Remember also that sitting in front limits distractions.
When you pray, remember that your posture matters and can help your mind focus. Keeping your hands folded is a good practice and can be a way to teach your kids the beauty and seriousness of the Mass.
Sing heartily, follow the gestures; they have deep spiritual meanings. Say the words with faith, and rejoice while saying the creed that you are privileged to have such faith for whom many have given their lives. Remember the struggles of the ages that prompted the writing of the Nicene Creed. I usually think of that, which fills my heart with joy and gratitude for such a gift.
Listen with your whole being:
Pay attention to every word, listen to the readings and pay attention during the sermon too. That is a critical way to have something of a take-home after Mass. If you are blessed to have a particularly outstanding homilist, you can take home a lot; if not, learn anything new.
Ask your Guardian Angel for help:
Remember that your Angel is participating at Mass with you, and he is crushing it! Ask him for help in achieving better concentration while praying. Remember that you are supposed to be his responsibility and trust he will help you.
7 Tips to Help You Stay Focused at Mass