Have you ever walked out of Mass and realized you weren’t really present during it? You went through the motions, but your mind was a million miles away? It’s not uncommon to get so familiar with the Mass that it becomes a routine, and not something you fully, actively, and consciously participate in each week. So how can we get more out of Mass each week?
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As with most of the important things in life, the more you put into it the more you get out of it. The same is true with the Mass. Monsignor Stuart Swetland, host of Go Ask Your Father™ and Chief Religion Correspondent for Relevant Radio®, recently stopped by A Closer Look™ and shared one simple practice that can help you get more out of each Sunday Mass: read and meditate on the Sunday readings throughout the week.
“It’s very helpful,” Msgr. Swetland said. “And I always found this as a lay person, in the years between my conversion and before I became a priest, to have read the readings before I go to Mass. It really made them come alive when I listen to them at Mass. Because I already would have heard them, I already would have studied them, meditated with them, and then when they were proclaimed, that was a different way of experiencing them.”
Msgr. Swetland pointed out that this practice not only assisted in his relationship with the Lord on Sundays, but immersing himself in the Sunday readings throughout the week helped him better hear what the Lord wanted to tell him through these particular Scripture readings.
“Sometimes, quite frankly, I wouldn’t remember the homily, or the homily might not have been what I needed to hear that day,” he acknowledged. “But I always found there was a word, a phrase, a verse, an idea, a sentiment that the Lord wanted me to hear that day, that week. And if I had that open mind and heart, I heard that word and I could take it with me to live that day.”
It is said that repetition is the mother of learning, and so one reason the readings we hear on Sunday may not strike our hearts is because we are hearing them proclaimed, but not giving ourselves the time and space to really hear what the Lord is trying to tell us. By meditating on the readings during the week, we give the Spirit that space and silence to move in our hearts, and bring about real change.
“That’s a weakness for all of us, if we’re honest, that there are various aspects of the faith that are hard to hear, or at least hear in an efficacious way that leads us to have that metanoia, that change of heart, that change of direction,” Msgr. Swetland said. “We all are resistant to part of the Gospel, because it really touches on an area of our lives that we don’t want to give up or change. But yet, if we’re docile to the promptings of the Spirit, allowing God’s transforming grace to work, it can be truly transformative.”
You can find the daily and Sunday Mass readings at the USCCB web site, and you can listen to the full conversation with Msgr. Stuart Swetland below.