At the start of a new year and a new season of the liturgical calendar, we consider ways to refresh our habits and live each day with intention. Today, the Spoken Bride team shares some of the practices that shape their preparation for and engagement during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
Stephanie Calis, Editor in Chief & Co-Founder
In this season of raising young children, my husband and I have had to adjust our expectations of what we hope to “get” from the Mass, and I think after several years we’ve reached something of a sweet spot. In doing so, my view has shifted to the reality that Mass is, in fact, not about getting, but about gift: Christ’s free, faithful, total, and fruitful sacrifice poured out and re-presented to us at every liturgy. I have to remind myself that even on days when I miss every other word of the homily or when my baby tries to escape under the kneelers over and over, Jesus is truly present and desires to enter into my life and vocation in such a specific, intimate way.
That said, I do make efforts to devote myself to worship and prayer. As I approach the altar for communion, the song “Sanctuary” frequently echoes in my head, underscoring for me the beautiful nuptial significance of the sacraments and helping dispose me to receive the Eucharist. The thought of humbly approaching the altar, walking toward the Bridegroom, is so moving to me.
My husband and I try to take turns handling and praying with our kids after communion, so that we can each have personal prayer and reflection time. We sometimes alternate taking them outside immediately after Mass, as well, to give each other additional time to pray in the chapel. Since college, I have always prayed after Mass the St. Michael prayer (which my parish now says collectively, before the final blessing), a prayer to St. Raphael for friends and family members and their future spouses, and have renewed my consecration to Mary.
Jiza Zito, Creative Director & Co-Founder
My family arrives early, brings missals, and says a prayer of thanksgiving after Mass. I try to go to confession at least twice a month with my husband or as a family, and to daily Mass at least once a week.
Andi Compton, Business Director
I meet with my Gospel Group weekly and we read the Sunday Readings and discuss the readings, upcoming feast days, and liturgical living. I am an Every Sacred Sunday drop out—at this season in my life with five kids, including a newborn, I just can’t remember to bring books and take time to write notes. But I do use the Laudate app to keep up with the readings whenever I’m in the cry area and a book isn’t available. Our goal is to make it to confession once a month. Our two oldest can now receive reconciliation and it’s so important to us to model us admitting that we are sinners in need of forgiveness by going regularly.
Honestly, during this season of my life, I constantly feel like I’m not doing enough because what I plan to do is interrupted by my actual life. I’ve learned to think of these interruptions as opportunities to offer up for our family’s salvation and any other intentions I can think of. At Christmas Eve Mass I was really wrestling with all my emotions of the process of bringing the whole crew to Mass (baths, getting dressed, leaving too late, parking far away, walking through the crazy parking lot, not finding seats, dealing with usherettes on power trips) but when the Eucharist was held up and the priest said “Behold, this is Lamb oh God…” a very clear voice in my head saying “This is why.” So even if you’re in a season where you can’t do all the things you desire in your prayer life, know that you can find Jesus exactly where you are.
Mariah Maza, Features Editor
There are many little habits I have started to acquire that allow me to prepare better and go deeper into the great gift that is the Catholic Mass. I am not perfectly consistent yet, but I find that my spiritual life is much stronger when I am more intentional about them.
Something new I am doing this year is using the Every Sacred Sunday Mass journal to pre-read the readings at home on Sunday or Saturday, take notes, reflect, and prepare spiritually for my upcoming week. I also use the journal to take notes during the homily! I haven’t received any weird stares yet.
In preparation for receiving the Eucharist again the next time I am at Mass, I strive to make daily (if not multiple times a day) spiritual communions. There are many different prayers you can chose from to “make” a spiritual communion. I pray, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should come under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”
When my husband and I are driving to Mass together, we pray St. Ambrose’s before Mass prayer in the car. I keep the paper with the prayer on the visor above the driver’s side, so I never have to think about remembering it; it is always there. I also try to listen to Christian or sacred music or ride in silence.
Additionally, I find it much easier to focus my Mass time when I arrive at least 10 minutes early to say hello to Jesus and tell him what my intentions for the Mass are.
For several months now, I have been accountable for attending daily Mass on Thursdays. A dear friend agreed to go to morning Mass with me on Thursday, and then we get coffee together! This makes sure I show up instead of making an excuse or sleeping in, and it cultivates a beautiful friendship founded on faith and virtue (and coffee).
During Mass, whenever I am about to enter the communion line, I pray in my head, “Mama Mary, prepare me to receive your Son in a way that does not desecrate His most holy body.” It can be so easy for me to get distracted right before I get up receive the Eucharist or while walking in line. I forget that I am walking the wedding aisle to my Bridegroom. So I call upon Mama Mary to clear my head and keep me focused on the sacrament.
When the priest raises the Body and Blood after consecration, I pray “my Lord and my God, thank you Jesus.”
I try not to go more than two weeks to a month between confessions. Getting over the “public shame” of staying in your seat during communion if you are not properly disposed to receive has also been transformative for my conscience and my soul. It also increases humility and my desire to get to confession so I can receive in a state of grace at the next Mass.
And finally, I veil at every Mass, in adoration chapels, and in the church when I go to confession, because those are all places I am in the presence of the Eucharist. Veiling has been immensely transformative for me. It changed my interior dispositions during Mass and even transformed the outward way I dress inside and outside of church. I am in love with this tradition the Church offers us as women.
Stephanie Fries, Editor at Large
I love to volunteer as a lector at Mass as a way for me to serve in our community and to engage more intimately with the readings. I am re-building a habit of bringing a small notebook with me to Mass so I can note specific readings or excerpts from the homily that I want to reflect on again at home. I strive to consistently pray a prayer of Thanksgiving after Mass, “for the beauty of this day and the sacrifice of your son.”
Mary Wilmot, Social Media Manager
My family and I have recently started attending a Latin Mass parish. I know this is not the case for everyone, but we are blessed that we are relatively close to two parishes that offer the TLM (one of them is the parish we were married in!). My husband and I both have experienced great fruits since attending consistently.
We like to prepare by making sure we have the readings handy during Mass. We currently use the missal and leaflets that are offered at our Church since we don’t have our own Missals yet. It is one of my goals for 2019 to acquire our own though! In a pinch, the Laudate app on my phone has been helpful as it has all the daily readings and prayers of the Mass.
After communion, I like to pray the Anima Christi prayer, and I also try to kneel and pray in silence. It can be tough with two small children though. We each get up with one of the kids at least once during the Mass due to someone needing to go to the bathroom or getting too fidgety. When I get frustrated, I try to remind myself that this is just the season of my life right now. Quietly explaining the parts of the Mass or pointing our candles, the Crucifix, or statues seem to help draw their attention to the Mass. My kids also seem to prefer to sit closer to the altar so they can see. Getting to Mass a little early makes this possible and gives us some extra prayer time. We sometimes also bring in a couple books or quiet toys. We try to go to daily Mass a couple times a week at a few different parishes nearby, too.
Outside of Mass, we pray a family rosary together every night. It has become part of our routine before the kids go to bed and it’s so nice to have those 15 minutes of quiet and peace together. The kids definitely fidget and sometimes fall asleep before we finish, but it definitely feels like it brings peace and order to our day, no matter how the rest of the day has been. In addition, I try to go to the confession at least once a month. My goal for this year is to add in at least 20-30 minutes of spiritual reading in during the day, as well.