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Week of January 22nd, 2023

A Note From Fr. Timothy

Preparing for the Mass

As the National Eucharistic Revival continues in the Church around the country, there are many different ways to help build our understanding and love of our savior, Jesus Christ, in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.  We not only seek to share opportunities to delve into some of the deep theology of the sacrament, but also be more aware of Eucharistic miracles, and ponder on ways to better incorporate the Eucharist spirit into our daily lives. 

We have already done a few things in our Together as One ACC to promote the Eucharistic revival.  It was great to have Dr. Bernie Evans here to speak about the connections of the Eucharist and social justice.  Additional opportunities for adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and associated talks.  There are also diocesan level opportunities, and we will close with the chance to go to the National Eucharist Congress in July of 2024 in Indianapolis.

One thing I wanted to implement this year in my parishes is to begin our Masses (weekend and weekday) with a prayer to help us reflect on what it is we are about to do and implore God’s grace to be present in us and more worthily celebrate that sacrament.  All priests are expected to offer a prayer in preparation for Mass.  Often this is done in the sacristy with the other ministers (lectors, servers, etc.) shortly before the entrance procession.  

The Church does not have a specific required prayer for this, and indeed many priests will offer a spontaneous prayer at that time.  There is a rich tradition of various Popes and Saints who have written preparatory prayers for Mass throughout the long history of the Church, and the Church takes this seriously enough that she has included in one of the appendices of the Roman Missal a number of examples of prayers for before Mass and prayers in thanksgiving for after Mass.

But this prayer is not just for the priests or the other ministers.  Everyone attending Mass should spend time in prayer to prepare themselves for that Mass, as well as some time afterwards in prayer of thanksgiving.  Many parishes seek to facilitate this for people by offering the rosary before Mass begins, or doing what they can to make the nave of the church a quiet place for individual reflection.  Those are good things and can hopefully continue, but I think it is good to enrich ourselves with some of the beautiful options of prayers for preparing for Mass.

The preparation for Mass prayer of St. Thomas Aquinas that we will be using at St. Joseph and St. Michael is perhaps my favorite of the options in the Missal.  It is a beautiful reminder of why we are here and what we are about to do.  It is a prayer for the present with an eye to the future.  It invites us to see beyond the appearance of bread and wine, and truly contemplate the King of kings and Lord of lords.  This prayer has been very meaningful to me in my priesthood as I have offered it before many of my Masses since ordination, and I want to share that experience with you.  Hopefully, you will find in meaningful and moving as well.

We will look at incorporating some of the other preparation for Mass prayers as we go through the year to continue to broaden our minds and hearts, and help us incorporate that spirit of prayer in our lives.  May this opportunity keep us focused on the gift and the majesty of the sacrament, so that we might not get lost in the distractions or outer appearances, but caught up in delight in God’s miracle in our midst.         

Fr. Timothy Gapinski

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