Prayer is at the heart of any relationship with God, but to many people, including myself, maintaining a healthy prayer life is a constant struggle. Our daily schedules become so filled with our careers, family, and other activities that it seems we barely have time to breathe. But this is really when we need prayer the most. As I write this I am reminded of a quote from St. Francis de Sales, “Every one of us needs a half hour of prayer a day, except when we are busy, and then we need an hour.” In other words, as life becomes increasingly more complicated and hectic, that’s when our relationship with God becomes ever more critical.
In my personal experience, attendance at daily mass as helped me greatly in this area. I am fortunate in that there are a few churches near my job that offer daily mass at times that are easy to attend before I have to report to the office. I also realize that not everyone reading this may be in a similar situation and finding a daily mass may be much more difficult. I strongly encourage everyone to give it serious consideration. Start off slowly by attending a daily mass once or twice a week and you can eventually grow from there. The benefits and graces from faithfully attending a weekday mass even once or twice weekly are powerful.
Focus – Every day from the minute I get out of bed, I feel as if I am being pulled in several different directions. My mind usually bounces around from thinking about deadlines at work to which activities do I need to bring my kids to on that day. Add to this the external noise of the world vying for our attention, such as the latest headlines and advertisements. Attending daily mass allows me to spend time each day and remember what is truly important in this world, working on my relationship with Christ. Listening to the Gospel and the homily and then uniting to Christ through the reception of Holy Communion helps me to focus on what really matters and offer up the day to the Lord. It’s a powerful start to the day to have this mass as a reminder that whatever may happen, Christ is there to get you through it all.
Peace – St. John Bosco had a vision in which he saw the Church as a ship guided by the Pope through very stormy seas. This ship was also being attacked by dark ships as the Holy Father was trying to guide it between two pillars to safety. At the top of the larger pillar was the Holy Eucharist while our Blessed Mother was standing at the top of the other. Why am I bringing this up? This is to illustrate what daily mass has become to me. The world we live in is chaotic. Things are constantly changing around us while our faith is attacked incessantly. Attending mass reminds me that that there is one constant in this world, one thing that will never change and that is our Lord Jesus Christ. The Mass has become my refuge, my safe harbor from the darkness of this world. It gives me a sense of comfort and peace when I can focus on the liturgy and on Christ’s presence and shut out all the noise of the world. Of course this first starts with regular attendance at weekly mass, but daily mass builds upon this and helps me stay safely between the pillars of the Eucharist and our Blessed Mother throughout the week. This goes hand in hand with what I mentioned earlier about focus. The peace and stillness that we receive from being in the presence of the Lord, enables us to more clearly focus on what matters most in the world and take on the day’s challenges with a renewed sense of hope in Christ.
Personal Holiness – This past summer I had the privilege of chaperoning the youth group from my parish to the annual Steubenville East retreat which is organized by the Franciscan University of Steubenville. One of the speakers at this event, Fr. Jose Sanchez, spoke to these teens about growing in personal holiness. He spoke in a common sense approach to make it relatable to the youth present. Fr. Jose likened daily mass to a bridge. We are required to attend mass weekly, but that is the bare minimum. Throughout the rest of the week we struggle with bad habits, sin, and temptation. Daily mass is a bridge to help get through all this and link us to the mass next weekend. In other words, when we attend Sunday mass and receive the Eucharist, we are strengthened and receive graces from God. As the week goes on, life distracts us from God and slowly chips away at our resolve. This makes it much more difficult to avoid sin and grow in holiness as God calls us. He urged us all to start with attending one daily mass each week on Wednesdays. By doing this, we only have to go a few days before we listen to God’s word and receive the Eucharist. This will give us the graces we need and strengthen our resolve against sin until the next Sunday mass. We grow in holiness by working to overcome sin and bad habits. This is accomplished by building good habits. Weekly mass is the right place to start, but it may not be enough. As I have experienced in my life, good spiritual habits such as prayer and daily mass are powerful tools to get us through the week and break away from habitual sins that we struggle with. I can’t stress enough how much daily mass has helped me in this area, especially in those times where I have fallen again. It has given me the resolve to get up, not lose hope, and continue the fight.
This is just my personal witness to how even one extra mass a week has benefited my daily life. There many more ways in which the graces of a daily mass will transform us if we open ourselves to it. Life moves around us at a maddening pace, consuming what little time we have. But this is precisely why it is critical to take the time to reach out to God through prayer each day. The most powerful way to do this is the Mass.
“Every one of us needs a half hour of prayer a day, except when we are busy, and then we need an hour.” - St. Francis de Sales.