An incident happened prior to Mass recently that prompted my writing of this particular column.
Someone told me that Pope 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.
Our society is noisy enough. A little quiet time helps us to tune in better to the spiritual things around us.
So please don’t think that I am rude, anti-social, or impersonal when I simply just want to be quiet and reflective. The Lord is often found in the silence at the depths of the heart.
Fr. Ed Namiotka