Helping others experience heaven on earth
If we really understood the Mass, we would die of joy.”
I love this. St. John Vianney nailed it.
He also declared, “There is nothing so great as the Eucharist. If God had something more precious, he would have given it to us.”
The Mass is a paradox in which God has interwoven infinite with finite; mortal with immortal; everlasting with time-limited. It truly is an experience of heaven on earth. It’s an opportunity to be in the physical presence of the creator of the universe (insert mind-blowing emoji here).
Here are 7 strategies to help your teens get the most out of their Mass experiences:
1. Ask your pastor to offer a “teaching Mass” for your teens — explaining every detail from beginning to end. The Mass is rich with tradition and history, from the vestments worn to the prayers offered. Knowing why we do what we do in the Mass is enlightening.
2. Explain the transcendentals — beauty, goodness, and truth. Invite your teens to reflect on the one that helps them draw near to God most. Then encourage them to observe where they see this present in the Mass the next time they attend.
3. Focus on the five senses — seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and touching. Send your teens on an assignment to discover all the ways the senses are involved during the Mass.
4. Encourage your teens to do “preMass prep.” This could include going to confession, reading the Sunday readings before the liturgy, and personally reflecting on questions such as: What would distract me from paying attention and fully participating? What are the needs in my life for which I can pray? What are the needs in the lives of my family, friends, and community?
5. Participate. Participate. Participate. This is twofold. It includes sitting, kneeling, standing, singing, responding, reciting, praying, shaking (hands), giving (money), but
it also means being an active lay leader. Teens can be ushers, lectors, cantors, and extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist.
6. Plan road trips to other Catholic parishes and attend their liturgies. The beauty of the Catholic Church and its parish communities is that they are the same, but different. Explore and experience the uniqueness and beauty of each one.
7. Don’t take for granted that your teens are going to Mass on Sunday. The reality is that many don’t. Ask them to go. And if their families don’t attend, invite them to sit with you.
Eric Groth is president and executive producer of Outside da Box.
This article was first published in Catechist magazine, November 2018.