How to Participate More Fully at Mass

Do you ever find the Mass boring? Or feel like you’re just a spectator, waiting quietly until the moment you can participate by receiving the Eucharist? If so, you’re not alone. Many people struggle with fully, actively, and consciously participating in the Mass. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

In a bonus episode of the Premier Podcast, a follow-up to SEEK2019 produced by Relevant Radio® in partnership with FOCUS, Fr. Mike Schmitz offers a fresh perspective on the liturgy, and how to gain a better appreciation for what happens on the altar at Mass.

“I would say that a lot of us, even those of us who go to Mass on a regular basis, we don’t know how to pray the Mass,” he told host Jake Moore. “When it comes down to it, we don’t actually know what we’re supposed to be doing.”

And why is that? Fr. Mike explained, “Think about this, even if you were brought to Mass ever since you were a child, what did they tell you to do? They told you to go in, shh, be quiet, shh, and look up there, just watch. So what we end up doing is going to Mass and thinking that what God wants me to do is go to Mass, sit there, be quiet, and watch.”

“So we end up watching the priest pray. But that’s not actually what God is calling us to do every single Sunday,” he continued. “He’s not calling us to just watch the Mass, He’s calling us to something more. … We’re not called to watch the Mass, we’re called to worship at the Mass.”

Fr. Mike pointed out that in almost all the world religions, the heart of religion is worship. And for most religions the heart of worship is sacrifice. He explained that for Catholics, the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross, and the remembrance of His sacrifice in the celebration of the Eucharist is at the heart of our worship.

“This is so, so critically important,” Fr. Mike said. “[Jesus] says, ‘Do this in memory of Me.’ Do what? ‘Take My body and take My blood and offer it to the Father.’ So in the Eucharist we believe that He is truly present. This is truly Jesus Himself, body, blood, soul, and divinity. This is Jesus crucified, this is Jesus risen, and this is Jesus ascended to the Father.”

“And at every Mass, the high point  of the Mass is not the consecration, although that’s the miracle. The miracle happens right there. The high point of the Mass is preceding the Great Amen, where the priest … will lift up, will elevate the Eucharist. And to the Father they will say, ‘Through Him, with Him, in Him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is Yours, Almighty Father, forever and ever.’ It is that moment that Fr. Michael Gaitley calls the ‘supercharged moment’ of the Mass. It is the moment where the sacrifice of Christ, on the Cross, resurrected, ascended into heaven, is being offered back to the Father.”

And how do we respond to this “supercharged moment” of the Mass? “We have what they call The Great Amen,” Fr. Mike said. “But at most Catholic parishes it’s The Lame Amen. Because we’re like, ‘Oh yeah, Amen. Now I get to stand, right?'”

So how can we better enter into this Mass, so as to offer the sacrifice of Christ to the Father and participate in this supercharged moment? By remembering our baptism. In your baptism you were anointed as priest, prophet, and king. It is in realizing your role as priest – united with the ordained priest, and Jesus the High Priest – that you can offer the sacrifice of the Mass for the glory of the Father and the salvation of souls.

“If I walk into Mass like that, I realize, ‘OK, I’m not just here to watch. I’m here to also lift up the sacrifice, with the ministerial priest, in union with the great High Priest, Jesus Christ. And that’s going to do something. And I think that sends an urgency, that sends a power, and gives me a sense of focus as well.”

Listen to the full conversation with Fr. Mike Schmitz at the Premier Podcast.