Participating in Mass with Your Heart

By Father James Chelich 1992

BEFORE MASS: Read the Scripture Readings that will be used at Mass. It is important that you find the time to do this before Mass. Ideally, you should read them the night before or sometime before heading to Church. If you have a family, it is recommended that you read the Scripture readings together — helping the younger children understand what is being read. For some people the only time, peace and quiet that they can find for this preparation is in the Church itself. If this is the case, bring your Bible or Missal with you and plan to arrive at Church as least twenty minutes before Mass is to begin. Use this time before Mass to read the Word of God and place it securely in your mind. Search your heart. Take account of the blessings you enjoy. Let this brief search result in gratitude to God. Select one of these blessings and carry it with you as you come to the celebration of Mass: “How shall I make a return to the Lord for all the good He has done for me? The cup of salvation I will take up, and I will call upon the name of the Lord.” Psalm 116:12-13 If you are hard pressed by temptation, come to Mass humble, but grateful for God’s acceptance and love: “My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit; a heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.” Psalm 51:19 If you are burdened by sin, repent, confess your sin, and come to Mass grateful for God’s forgiveness and mercy: “As long as I would not speak , my bones wasted away with my groaning all the day, …my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you, my guilt I covered not. I said, ‘I confess my faults to the Lord’, and you took away the guilt of my sin.” Psalm 32:3-5 If you are hurting and in pain, simply come to Mass grateful that Jesus is waiting for you, faithful to his promise: “Come to me, all you who are weary and find life burden- some, and I will refresh you.” Matthew 11:28 Prepare for Mass by having the Word of God in your mind and gratitude to God in your heart. Pray to the Holy Spirit before Mass begins: Come Holy Spirit, You penetrate all mysteries, even the deep things of God. In this celebration carry me beyond the words and actions of our Liturgy to an encounter with Jesus at His Cross; and there unite me with Him in a Holy Communion of life and love. 1. BEGINNING THE CELEBRATION: When the priest begins the Mass by saying, “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”: Trace the Sign of the Cross over yourself carefully and with attention. Be mindful that by Jesus’ cross your life was redeemed and the power of sin over your life was broken (Ephesians 1:7-8). Claim as your own the mystery of the cross by saying in your heart: “I have been crucified with Christ, and the life I live now is not my own; Christ is living in me. I still live my human life, but it is a life of faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me,” Galatians 2:19b-20 We begin with the Sign of the Cross because the Mass is all about the cross. It is about Jesus’ cross: his dying to forgive our sins and rising to give us new life (Romans 6:10). It is about our cross: our dying with Jesus to the sin in our life, and our resurrection with Jesus to a new life — a life for God (Romans 6:11). Saint Paul says: “May I boast of nothing but the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ! Through it, the world has been crucified to me and I to the world.” Galatians 6:14 2. AT THE PENITENTIAL RITE… Really form your heart in an attitude of Repentance: ACKNOWLEDGE that God is right about sin in your life: Lord, My sinful habits and addictions have more control of my life than I want to admit. They threaten to pull my life apart. I acknowledge that these things in my life are sinful and wrong. I am responsible. DECLARE, without any exceptions: Lord, the sin in my life has to go — all of it! BOW your head and ADMIT: Lord, I am powerless to free myself from my sins and addictions. I need Your help! I am ready to trust You. I am willing to take firm hold of the help you offer. JOIN the congregation and CRY OUT to God for mercy. In your heart, REACH OUT to God for help: Lord, have mercy! Christ, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! This is true Repentance. This attitude of heart invites the power of the Holy Spirit to work in you. When your heart is set in the attitude of Repentance, God’s grace can lay hold of your sinful habits and addictions and work powerful changes within you. God always responds to Repentance with Mercy: “A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.” Psalm 51:19 This is why at the end of the Penitential Rite the priest says: “May almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins, and bring us to life everlasting.” Repentance prepares your heart to approach the Throne of Grace. The Throne of Grace is Jesus’ Cross. It is found on Calvary. The celebration of Mass takes you there. But only in Repentance will you truly spiritually “arrive” at Calvary and only in Repentance will you find the communion with God that Jesus makes possible there. 3. WHEN THE PRIEST SAYS: “LET US PRAY…” Open your heart before the Lord and pray: + Tell the Lord that you know that He is present and that His presence is important to you. + Tell the Lord that you believe that He died for you personally and actually rose from death. + Tell the Lord that you are here to claim the power of His resurrection in your life. + Tell the Lord that in Him, and Him alone, is all your hope. Lord, I know that You are here for me. I want to touch Your presence within me. Your love and presence means everything to me. I truly believe that You suffered and died for me personally and that Your resurrection was real. I am here, Lord, because I want to claim the power of Your resurrection in my life. My hope is in You, and You alone! 4. DURING THE READINGS AND HOMILY… Listen for a single WORD that God is sending you either in the Scripture Readings or in the homily. Determine what this WORD (phrase or thought) is. Carry it with you and reflect upon it often. It will serve as a KEY that opens your heart in the week (or day) ahead to the truth about yourself, and to God’s presence with you and love for you. 5. AT THE PRAYERS OF THE FAITHFUL… Intercede fervently, but not for yourself. Ask for others. Ask nothing for yourself except that which will help you be of greater service and support to others: Lord, I lay before You the needs of others: (Mention them specifically…) And I ask for Your help in loving them and serving them: (Mention your needs…) By praying in this way, you spiritually cut away at your self-centeredness and open a space for God to plant His word and the seeds of a generous spirit within you. 6. AT THE PRESENTATION OF THE GIFTS… As the priest lifts and places the bread on the Altar, place your wounded heart on the plate with the bread. Then place the wounded heart of the world on the plate of offering along with your own. As the priest lifts and places the wine on the Altar, place the pain that you carry in your heart into the cup. Then place the pain of the world in the cup of offering with your own. Present your life and everything you are to God: ** Lord, You know who I am and You know what I am. I spend a lot of time running away from this and hiding it from You and others. No more! I offer the whole of who I am to You. Everything! — the good and the bad, the strengths and the weaknesses, my virtues and my vices, all the sins and addictions I struggle with. I lift them up and place them in Your hands. I trust You to do what I cannot do: to set me free and to help me find joy in my life. We offer a wounded heart; we receive in return a heart in which our own hearts can take shelter and be made whole. We offer the cup of our pain; we receive in return a cup of Divine mercy and healing Love. Two times in the course of the Mass we are called to perform an act of humility, opening our hearts and laying out before God the whole truth about who and what we are — the good and the bad, the strong and the weak, all that gives life and all that deals death within us. The first time is at the Penetential Rite. There we lay our hearts open so that God can speak the truth to us. This makes the Liturgy of the Word “real”. Now, at the Presentation of Gifts, we lay our hearts open again, this time so that God can love us with the Healing Love that comes to us in Christ Jesus (Rom 8:37-39) and that was poured out for us on the cross (1 Pet 2:24). This makes the Liturgy of the Eucharist “real”. 7. AT THE WORDS OF CONSECRATION… ACCEPT Jesus’ invitation to offer his sacrifice with him: Eternal Father, I offer You the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your dearly beloved Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ, In atonement for my sins and those of the whole world. OFFER YOURSELF as a sacrifice to God “through Him, with Him, and in Him”: Lord, my life is in Your hands — take my life and all that I am! During the Eucharistic Prayer, you stand truly and really present at Jesus’ one and eternal sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins and the healing of the world. In and by the power of the Holy Spirit, you stand beneath the Cross on Calvary (Hebrews 12:22-24). 8. AFTER SAYING THE “OUR FATHER”… In your heart, surrender your Self-will to the Life-giving Will of God: ** Lord, I surrender to You the one thing that has consistently brought misery to me and pain to the lives of everyone around me. I surrender to You my Self-will! I renounce my attitude of “I want”, “I expect”, “I demand”. I will not lay this attitude on everyone and everything I encounter, only to add to the load of my life’s disappointments. Instead, Lord, I ask and pray: Show me what You are doing in the lives of the people and in the events taking place around me. Teach me how I can contribute something of myself to what You are doing for them or in them. I give myself wholly to Your Will! 9. AT THE SIGN OF PEACE… First, TURN to the people around you. Look into their eyes and take their hand. NOTICE the pain they carry and the burden within them. BLESS them with the Name of Jesus: “The Peace of Jesus be with you.” Then, in silent prayer, ASK PARDON, through the heart of Jesus, of anyone you have injured: Lord, I reach out through Your loving heart and ask pardon of all those I have hurt by my words, my actions and my neglect. And GRANT PARDON, through the heart of Jesus, to anyone who has injured you: Lord, as You have loved and pardoned me, I now grant pardon to all those who have hurt or injured me. 10. AS YOU SING THE “LAMB OF GOD…” LIFT up before the Lord the pain and burden you noticed in the eyes and felt in the hearts of the people around you. 11. AS YOU WAIT TO RECEIVE HOLY COMMUNION… PRAY over and over again in your heart the prayer of the Good Thief on the Cross: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Luke 23:42 There are countless millions of crosses on Calvary and each one of us hangs crucified to one of them — all of us have been crucified to the world! Nor are we simply innocent victims, for we have all done our share of crucifying others. The miracle of this sacred moment is that God hangs crucified with us. He is here to wisper an invitation to the crucified: to open our lives and our pain to His love. The urgent question at this moment in the Mass is whether or not we will open our hearts to that love. 12. AFTER RECEIVING HOLY COMMUNION… Remember the words and the promise of Jesus: “I have given them the glory You gave me that they may be one, as we are one — I living in them, You living in me — that their unity may be complete.” John 17:22-23 “Know that I am with you always, until the end of the world!” Matthew 28:20 Kneel down and open your heart to what Jesus is saying to you in this moment of Holy Communion: “I died for you because I love you. I have given you my flesh and blood to eat and drink because I want to join you to myself as flesh of my flesh and blood of my blood. Accept the grace and freedom I offer you.” Take firm hold of the mercy and grace that Jesus offers you. Do it with a whole and undivided heart. It is the Grace of freedom from the addictive Cycle of Sin that grips and chokes off your life. “In His own body he brought your sins to the cross, so that all of us, dead to sin, could live according to God’s will. By his wounds you were healed.” 1 Peter 2:24 a Lead Jesus to the places within you where you are hurting (in body, mind, or spirit). Picture Him laying his hand upon your pain wherever it may be. Receive the Grace of Healing He offers you. If you wish this healing for another, then “in the Spirit”, lead Jesus to them, where ever they may be, and ask Jesus to lay his hand on their pain. “…by His wounds you were healed.’ 1 Peter 2:24b Ask Jesus to “come alive” within you: ** Lord Jesus, Alone, I am powerless to lead the kind of life to which you are calling me — a life I very much want. I seem to get no further than my good intentions. But I am not alone! I believe that you are with me. Come alive within me, Jesus! Act on my behalf! By the power of your Holy Spirit working within me, let some small part of your powerful, healing love come alive within me. Transform some part of my attitude, my words or my actions. Defeat the terrible hold that my addictions, my fears and my compulsions have on my life. For my part, I promise to keep my illusions about myself and my Self-will from coming between us, but You, Lord, will have to do the rest. I trust that You can — and will! AFTER MASS DURING THE WEEK AHEAD… “May Christ dwell in your hearts through faith, and may charity be the root and foundation of your life. Thus you will be able to grasp fully, with all the holy ones, the breath and length and height and depth of Christ’s love, and experience this love which surpasses all knowledge, so that you may attain to the fullnes of God Himself.” Ephesians 3:17-19 1) Remember to complete the Mass. The celebration of the Mass is never complete until sometime in the following week you break the ‘Bread of Yourself’ in time, attention, or resources, and offer it to someone or to some need in the Name of Jesus. During the Mass, Jesus breaks the bread of Himself and shares it with you in Holy Communion. Now, in His name, you must break the bread of yourself with another. You do this in small acts of Charity extended toward another while in your heart saying: I offer this to you in the Name of Jesus. As He first loved me, so I now share His love with you. When you complete the Mass by breaking the Bread of Yourself with another in the Name of Jesus, you release the full grace and power of the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist in your life and theirs. 2) The Grace of Freedom that Jesus gives you in the celebration of the Mass needs to be claimed daily. Jesus told us that when we pray, we must ask Our Father for “our daily bread”. At the beginning of every day you must pray and offer God the Truth about who and what you are (**p.7). Every day you must pray and surrender your Self-will to God (**p. 8). Every day you must read the Gospel and ask the Lord to work in you and let His holiness come alive in you (**p. 11). If you find yourself in pain and hurting during the course of the week, claim the Grace you received from Jesus during Mass. It may be the Grace of Healing for the illness or wound you suffer, or it may be the Grace of Sharing in the redemptive sufferings of Jesus. Claim this grace in personal prayer: Jesus, I come to you because I am weary and am burdened with hurt and pain. I claim your desire to heal my illness. But more so I want to place my suffering into your hands. Let this cup pass from me, but not my will, but Yours be done. If my healing will serve the building up of your kingdom, then heal me, Lord! But if in this I am called to share in your suffering for the redemption of the world, then gather me into your wounded heart and console me there. If you find that your sinful addictions rise during the week to tempt or torment you, claim the Grace of Unbinding and Freedom you received from Jesus during the celebration of the Mass. Again, this is done in a moment of personal prayer: Jesus, this old part of myself rises to take control of me again. I stand beneath your cross and claim the power you won for me by your death and resurrection. Your death, “was death to sin, once for all”; I claim the power of your redeeming Love to defeat this temptation and to put this sinful addiction to death. I nail it to the wood of your cross. Let it die in the blood you shed out of love for me. PARTICIPATING IN MASS WITH YOUR HEART A Guide Father James Chelich How to Use this Booklet This guide is intended to help you participate in Mass with your heart. It invites you to join Jesus in the Sacrifice of the Cross, in a deeply personal way. Study this Guide carefully. Read it over before you go to Mass each weekend. It may be helpful to take it with you to Mass. Concentrate on improving your participation in one part of the Mass at a time. Be careful not to be so wrapped up with this pamphlet that you are distracted from the flow of the celebration and fail to participate with the rest of the congregation. Prayers printed in bold print are suggested patterns for the kind of personal prayer that should be offered at that point in the Mass. Use these “pattern-prayers” as they are. After you have used them a good while and understand what they express, you may want to form prayers in your own words. Whether you use these pattern-prayers as they are or express what they say in your own words, the most important thing is that at each point during the Mass you are praying from your heart and personally investing yourself in the worship. The Word of God for what we are about to do in Celebrating the Sacrifice of the Mass: “You have drawn near to Mount Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to myriads of angels in festal gathering, to the assembly of the first- born enrolled in heaven, to God the judge of all, to the spirits of just men and women made perfect, to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood which speaks more eloquently than that of Able.” Hebrews 12:22-24 Copyright 1992: Father James Chelich Basilica of Saint Adalbert 654 Davis, N.W., Grand Rapids, MI 49504