Father Bedel, in a recent Flocknote, gave us all some great advice on getting ready for our First Holy Communion since March and what our “Amen” means when we receive.

Being suspended from Mass has deepened our longing to be together as a community and to receive Jesus. Our desire to worship Him is more than just fulfilling our weekly Sunday obligation. In fact, right now, we are all dispensed from that Sunday obligation, so this great desire to go to Mass is the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit, who is drawing us to Himself.

Preparing for Mass and for our physical communion with Jesus is more important than preparing for a huge event like a wedding or a career-making business meeting. The Catechism (CCC 1324) tells us that “The Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life". We wouldn’t show up for an important function late or unprepared, so why would we not ready our hearts for Mass? Let’s look at some ways we can prepare.

  • Read the Sunday readings ahead of time
    • You can easily find them at www.USCCB.org
    • Look for what ties the readings together, there is usually a common thread
    • Listen for what God is trying to tell you … this is His word speaking to you directly
    • Hearing the readings at Mass once you’ve already read them makes it easier to focus on the scriptures
  • Arrive before Mass begins (yes, early….)
    • Prepare to enter the worship space with a prayer just outside the doors
    • Enter your pew quietly and place yourself in the presence of the Lord
    • Call on the Holy Spirit to open your heart, mind, and soul to God
    • Sit close to the front – it helps both children and adults stay focused
  • Work on paying attention during Mass
    • There is a lot going on at Mass – God is speaking to you directly; Jesus is intimately becoming a part of you and the Saints and angels are all worshipping with you
    • Keep your hands folded in prayer, that will remind you of worship and thanksgiving
    • Bring a Mass journal and listen for key scriptures or thoughts from Father’s homily that speak to you. Jot them down to meditate on over the coming week
    • If you do get distracted, acknowledge it, and focus your attention back on the Mass.
    • You can ask the Holy Spirit, Mary, or your Guardian Angel to help you get rid of the distraction
      • St. Francis de Sales said about distractions: "If the heart wanders or is distracted, bring it back to the point quite gently and replace it tenderly in its Master's presence. And even if you did nothing during the whole of your hour but bring your heart back and place it again in Our Lord's presence, though it went away every time you brought it back, your hour would be very well employed.“
  • Be free from sin when you come to Mass
    • It makes us able to receive all the grace possible
    • Outside of our Covid-19 Dispensation for the Sunday Obligation, it is a grave sin to miss Sunday Mass.
    • Grave sins need to be confessed in the Sacrament of Reconciliation before receiving Holy Communion again.
    • Father Bedel’s advice is to
      • Examine our consciences before Mass so we can ask forgiveness in the Penitential Rite at the start of Mass for our venial sins
      • Go to confession (the Sacrament of Reconciliation) for the forgiveness of any mortal or grave sins
  • Come hungry for Jesus
    • That means just that – come on an empty stomach
    • Catholics should observe the Communion Fast for one hour before receiving Holy Communion
    • That means no coffee, no food, nothing but water and medicine
    • Jesus is going to be entering your body – make sure there’s room for Him
  • Learn about the Mass
    • It’s not boring! If you think it is, you probably don’t know all that is going on here
    • Read “A Biblical Walk Through the Mass” – Dr. Edward Sri
    • Read “Understanding the Mass” by Mike Aquilina – we gave the book away for Christmas and still have a few copies in the office. If you need one email Birgitt Hacker at bhacker@smoy.org.
    • Know what our “Amen” means when we accept Holy Communion (Father Bedel’s comments):
      • I believe everything the Church teaches on faith and morals.
      • Pope Francis is my spiritual father.
      • I am in union with my bishop, who is in union with the pope.
      • I know that the substances of bread and wine are changed to the Body and Blood of Jesus during the consecration at Mass.
      • I am a practicing Catholic.
      • I am in the state of grace.
      • I am not aware of any mortal sin since my last confession.
      • I am not causing scandal by some aspect of my life.

Mass will look different in our new socially distanced era, but Christ remains constant and unwavering and preparing to receive Him, remains the same. Welcome back to Mass.

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