Dear Parishioners and Friends,
How do you get your game face on for an important event? Last week I wrote about my coach who had to shout over the commotion in the team bus in order to get us to focus. But I certainly hope you won’t have to resort to shouting on the way to Mass.
If my lacrosse teammates had started to focus on our event the night before, then perhaps Coach Brameier wouldn’t have gotten so frustrated with us the following day. The night before is when successful athletes visualize their upcoming event and begin preparation rituals. Likewise, this is preparation time for Mass.
At the Mass, we don’t gear up to perform the the way an athlete would. But meeting our Lord is more momentous than any athletic endeavor, so we prepare our hearts and minds accordingly. Here are a few night-before suggestions:
- We incorporate some Mass preparation into our evening meal. As I say grace, I’ll acknowledge that this meal anticipates the greater meal that we’ll celebrate the next day. Schmemann wrote, “In the Bible the food that man eats, the world of which he must partake in order to live, is given to him by God, and it is given as communion with God.”
- Before saying grace at that meal, we’ll often sing a verse of an advent hymn: “O praise eternal Son to thee whose advent doth thy people free …” Why? Because as each Sunday is an Easter, each Sunday is also the fulment of our Advent longing. The King comes to us the next day. By acknowledging this at the evening meal, we prepare the hearts of even our youngest children to see the Sunday Mass as the most important event of the week.
- Ideally, we’ll say at least a portion of Evening Prayer together (Vespers), at which the Collect and readings anticipate the liturgy of the following day.
Saturday evening isn’t a good time for grossly secular movies or any other activity that would break our orientation toward Mass. The liturgical day has already begun, and this is out time to embrace it. These aren’t rules or obligations, but an ethos and an opportunity. This is a way to help us cultivates the deepest joy–the kind that creates momentum for the entire week.
There I will meet with you; and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are upon the ark of the testimony, I will speak to you about all that I will give you in commandment for the sons of Israel. (Exodus 25:22)