Travel to a Catholic Church

This post is part of a series on Getting the Most Out of Mass: tips to best dispose yourself to receive the graces available during Mass (this will be specifically about Sunday Mass, but some of these ideas will also apply to daily Mass). We’re in the section on preparing yourself before Mass.

What:

Join the rest of your community at a Catholic church—a holy site that is consecrated (i.e. blessed and set aside) for Mass and other prayers.

Why:

Just as God instructed the Jews to gather at one spot (the Tabernacle, later the Temple) to worship Him, so Jesus led the Apostles to gather the community to worship God together in an official public ceremony (“liturgy”) using a building dedicated solely to the worship of God.

Going Deeper:

While you’re at Mass, you will be taken outside of time and made present at Jesus’ sacrifice on Calvary. As you travel to Mass, dedicate that time to God in prayer:

  • Consider Jesus as He “set His face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51) or you might consider the steps that led Jesus to Golgotha (AKA: the Way [or the “Stations”] of the Cross).
  • While traveling to Sunday Mass, our family reads that day’s meditations from Fr. Francis Fernandez’s In Conversation With God. I have found this to be a great way to set my mind on the Lord and the theme of that day’s Mass and to prepare to delve more deeply into the readings and homily. Even on weekdays when I am not able to attend Mass, these reflections have been a great way of guiding my prayer.
  • At times we have listened to Praise and Worship music on the way to Mass. I know of other families who do this and it really helps them to prepare them as they travel.
  • Reflect on the Jewsh pilgrims of Jesus’ time who had to travel to the temple in Jerusalem in order to offer sacrifices to God.
    • Depending on where they lived, some had to travel great distances. Be thankful that Jesus’ sacrifice changed that and allowed Mass to be celebrated in any city of the world.
    • They had particular Psalms they prayed at specific points of the journey.

Try to arrive early so you have time to quiet your mind and pray to prepare yourself to properly participate in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. [More on this in a future post.]

Making the Trek for Grace

This whole series is about trying to maximize your disposal to the graces available in the Catholic Mass. As I’ve mentioned before, different parishes will offer the Mass in different ways (some of them are legitimate options that are within the laws of the Church; some are not). Those variances can be better or worse at helping you be disposed to focus on God and receive as many graces as possible.

When participating at Mass in various Catholic churches, take note of how well any of the following things take you out of ordinary life, point you to the majesty of God, and help you focus on participating in co-offering Jesus’ Sacrifice to God the Father along with the priest:

  • Architecture
  • Art
  • Music
  • Vestments
  • Priest’s Demeanor & Homilies
  • Reverence
  • etc.

In the past, I’ve found that the closest Catholic church to me wasn’t always the one that chose the best options for disposing people to receive grace, so, at various times in my life, I’ve had to drive to parishes that weren’t the closest ones to me. Sometimes there were even 4 or 5 others I’d pass up to attend a parish that was really good at disposing me to grace. At different times in my life, as I’ve lived in different places across the country, my travel time to Mass has varied from across the street to 45 minutes away.

Your travel to Mass might be longer or shorter, but do what you can en route to focus your mind and heart as you go.

What About You?

  • Have you found anything particular that helps you prepare for Mass as you travel there?
  • How has dedicating your travel time helped you dispose your heart to more deeply participate in Mass and receive the graces God is offering you?
  • Do you have any stories about traveling to Mass?

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