An incident happened prior to Mass several years ago that prompted my writing of this particular column.
Someone told me that Pope St. John Paul II would literally spend hours in prayer preparing to celebrate Mass. It was said that he became oblivious to his surroundings, so deep was his spiritual communication with the Lord.
I dare not compare my self to such a holy man as John Paul II. However, I do see the value of and the need for the time to prepare spiritually prior to Mass. Sometimes I may be thinking about the readings from Sacred Scripture. Other times I may be contemplating exactly what I am going to say in the homily. Frequently I think about the people that I want to remember to pray for during the Mass. Perhaps I may be finishing some prayers committed to memory. At other times I just want to be quiet, clam and reflective.
No matter what I may be doing at the particular moment, the time prior to Mass is really important for me to focus on the sacred mysteries about to be celebrated.
So do not be surprised that I do not seem “talkative” or “conversational” prior to Mass. Sometimes I walk into the sacristy and the topics of conversation range from politics to sports to the latest gossip. I do not think that I am wrong in saying that there is a time and a place for everything--and for me prior to Mass is not the place for small talk.
If I want to talk about the Phillies, Flyers or Eagles, it will be after Mass when I am outside shaking hands with the people and not when I am preparing myself to celebrate sacred mysteries.
I also think that the same quiet, reflective time needs to be honored immediately after the reception of Holy Communion. I deliberately take time after Holy Communion once everything is settled just to be quiet. Don’t forget about making a proper thanksgiving after the reception of Holy Communion. We also should try to make a Spiritual Communion, if we are unable to receive Holy Communion for some reason.
Our society is noisy enough. A little quiet time helps us to tune in better to the spiritual things around us. Here’s something to think about:
Then the LORD said: Go out and stand on the mountain before the LORD; the LORD will pass by. There was a strong and violent wind rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the LORD—but the LORD was not in the wind; after the wind, an earthquake—but the LORD was not in the earthquake; after the earthquake, fire—but the LORD was not in the fire; after the fire, a light silent sound. When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. (1 Kg. 19: 11-13a)
So please don’t think that I am rude, anti-social, or impersonal when I simply just want to be quiet and reflective. Perhaps someone around you may feel the exact same way. The Lord is often found in the silence at the depths of the heart.
Fr. Ed Namiotka