In his new book, Resisting Happiness, Catholic author Matthew Kelly writes that the key to a “radically different experience at Mass on Sunday” is not so much about better music or more interesting homilies, but more about our “shifting from a passive to an active disposition and really listening” (Beacon Publ’g, 2016, p. 104).
“But that doesn’t mean we have to bring ammonia sticks or fidget toys to keep ourselves awake and focused at Mass,” Father Roger said in a recent homily. “It’s a matter of allowing the Word to penetrate your soul and speak to you in the moment, making meaning of it all for yourself. Because in the readings from the bible, the encouragement offered in the homily, the statements of faith we profess together, and the common prayers offered, God is speaking to you and to you alone, individually.”
According to Kelly, one of the key reasons many people do not feel “focused, energized, and invigorated” at Mass is that they are not really listening. “One of the most striking examples of this,” he says, “is that you almost never see anyone in Church with pen and paper” (104). In Protestant churches, many Christians bring a Bible, pen, and paper to follow along and take notes. But “when we come to church without pen and paper,” Kelly claims, we “have decided even before leaving home that” the Lord “isn’t going to speak to me at church today” or that “Father is not going to say anything worth writing down” (104-5).
That’s why Kelly’s organization, Dynamic Catholic, created a simple Mass Journal for Catholics to use every Sunday. It is not necessary to take copious notes or feel pressure to produce profound insights. Simply “take th[e] small journal to Mass with you each Sunday,” Kelly invites us in his introduction to the Mass Journal. “On your way to church join me in this simple prayer, God, Show me one way in this Mass I can become a better-version-of-myself this week!”
One Saint Brendan parishioner, Dr. Lou Scheerer, already regularly takes notes at Mass. “It helps me connect the readings to my life,” she said. Her written comments help her to remember and learn from the homilies, allowing the Word of God to “transform [her] life.”
That’s why today on Easter Sunday, we’re giving everyone a Mass Journal free of charge. It’s a gift from this parish to you. If you come to Mass each week, ask God to speak to you and listen to the quiet of your heart in the midst of all the words in the Mass, and then write down one thing in your Mass Journal—just one way you sense God is calling you to grow—you will never be bored at Mass again.
“Nothing will have more impact on your life and your experience of Sunday Mass than opening yourself up to what God wishes to say to you,” Kelly promises (107). Make a bold move today. Take a Mass Journal home. Bring it back next week and the week after that and see how your life and relationship with God changes dramatically.
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