Does anyone have problems with concentration at Mass?

I try to attend Daily Mass, and I truly love going to Mass. Before every Mass I always pray to be there fully in mind and body. But almost always I find my mind wandering during Mass, and even during Consecration. Does anyone else have this problem, and if you do, what do you do about it? Interestingly enough, I don't have this problem on Sunday when I attend the Tridentine Mass, but that could be because I am following so closely in the Missal.

Anyway, whatever the reason, I would really like to keep my mind completely on what is happening at the altar. Any suggestions? I do follow along somewhat with the Magnificat, and that helps some.

I guess my problems are just the opposite. When I go to daily mass, I’m alone, and can reflect peacefully before and after mass and be fully focused on what’s going on. During Sunday mass, it’s me, the wife, and kiddos. I usually make through to the first reading, then it’s out the door to the foyer to listen to the rest of mass on the little speaker with my 18 month old.:shrug: He’s fascinated with the stained glass windows and wants to give them a “shout out” I guess.

But I understand, my mind wanders at times as well. I don’t have any “techniques”, I just have to keep telling myself “pay attention”. I don’t know what else to do - so I guess I’ll look forward to others’ advice as well.:stuck_out_tongue:

All you can do is, if your mind wanders, drag it back. :slight_smile: It is important a) not to stress about it if you are doing your best, and b) not to feel guilty because God has not granted you the grace of perfect concentration.

It’s possible that the less you worry about it (again, assuming you continue doing your best to combat it), the less it will happen.

I can’t say that I have had a lot of mind-wandering during the actual consecration (except in my old parish where sometimes they would say it wrong :eek:), but I have done during the other parts of the Eucharistic prayer. What I have done that helped a little was to have “hooks” for particular remembrances, like “here is where I think about my deceased grandparents” and “here is where I think of all of the saints being a ‘cloud of witnesses’” and so forth. It might help you to go through the OF mass at some time outside Mass and think of short meditations for different places in the Mass where your attention is prone to wander.

Good luck!

–Jen

Glad you brought that up, I had forgotten to mention something! I’m on the RCIA team (and sponsoring someone) and one of the discussions was a “live walk-thru” of the mass. He celebrated mass, and in between every step, he’d stop and explain all the details of what just transpired. It was a really good learning experience - so that’s something I can use, and do sometimes, during mass. So, I can tell myself, “This is where such and such originates, etc…”

Thanks for that!:thumbsup:

I used to have the same problem, but I have also made a little group of prayers that I say during specific parts of the Mass. For instance, during the consecration of the host and the elevation, I meditate on John 17 and Jesus’ high priestly prayer, where he prays about when the Father will be in Him, He in us and we all as one. That we will be one with Him, even as He and the Father in one. The Eucharist is the earthly fulfillment of that prayer. (IMO) I have a little “liturgy” of my own that I pray along with each portion of the Mass and it has led to a little of the opposite problem. I have started to become oblivious to what is going on around me (not necessarily good with 3 kids) because I am concentrating on my “part” in response to what is taking place on the altar. It has really helped out a lot. :slight_smile:

Going to mass in the extraordinary form really helps I have found.

I sit in the 3rd row, otherwise, else my mind can wander. Back when I was in college I discovered that problem in classes too.

\But almost always I find my mind wandering during Mass, and even during Consecration.\

**Welcome to the human race.

All you can do is try.**

I agree with the previous poster. We ALL have this problem, we just have to try our best. Somtimes sitting up in one of the front rows can help.

At the Latin Mass, sometimes praying bits of the Rosary during the quiet parts of the Mass helps me concentrate.

If you’re a woman, you might try wearing a scarf or mantilla. I’ve found that covering my head helps my concentration tremendously. I can’t explain exactly why, but ask any other woman who covers their head at Mass and they’ll tell you the same thing. :thumbsup:

Thank you for posting this. This is something I often struggle with as well. All I can do it just try to refocus whenever I find my mind wandering. Sometimes it seems like I spend more time trying chastising myself for woolgathering than I do participating in the Mass. It’s frustrating, but it happens. Happens a lot to me during the rosary too. I guess all we can do is pray for each other, huh? :wink:

It’s totally normal.

Being able to concentrate at Mass is a special consolation or favor. You can’t completely make yourself concentrate, although of course your willingness to concentrate is important. God can remove your ability to concentrate at any time, and for most people, He will. :slight_smile:

There isn’t any technique for better concentration that will work all the time. There isn’t any Mass form you can attend that can make you always concentrate perfectly. There isn’t any clothing or prayer technique that can do it. There isn’t any priest’s mode of celebration or musician’s worshipful playing that can do it. That doesn’t mean it’s not important to try; but don’t set yourself up for disappointment by expecting too much. We are not beings of spirit and pure intellect; we are humans.

Thought and concentration are part of what your body does, not your soul, and the brain is a very loopy part of the body. Don’t expect more from “Brother Donkey” than he can give.

In fact… in general, we are designed to react to little changes in our environment, because not noticing this stuff could get us killed. We are also designed to ignore stuff that’s not important at the moment; but unless everyone at Mass acts very similarly all the time, it’s hard for the brain to figure out that what’s going on in the background isn’t important or harmful. Even then, the brain can get freaked that everything is the same as last week, and start looking around for something different. There’s no point getting frustrated that your brain is working correctly; it’s better to stay calm and roll with it. Then your brain might actually buckle down and concentrate more. :slight_smile:

So… if you’re not having trouble concentrating, thank God; don’t anticipate trouble; but don’t expect it to last forever. Be grateful when you can concentrate and be grateful when you can’t.

I go to daily mass and always have many people I am praying for. It used to be distracting when I might forget a certain person or intention. Then I would spend way too much time thinking about the person and or intentions during the mass. I then decided to pick four friends (along with the Blessed Mother) who would help me concentrate during mass. I chose St Anna the Prophetess (help me with impatience), Little Flower (help me with petty annoyances), St John the Beloved (help me love those who do not love me) and St Monica (help my family do God's will) to join me just before the consecration. I mentally put them next to me in the pew. All the saints are with us during the consecration but my little brain had to choose just a few to visualize. They have taught me to come a little early to mass and give God all my intentions for the mass before mass. Then during mass I can give myself to the prayers.

Yes, I am distracted, too. Sunday mass is much more distracting but my saintly friends are there by my side and they will give me a gentle pinch if I need it.

I find Daily Mass to be so quick that my concentration doesn’t wander.

Something I realized from going to the TLM a few times is that we should pray with the priest. So, at times, I will pray the Eucharistic Prayer along with him silently. That makes it go by quickly.

The best thing I’ve done is to volunteer to be a reader/lector. Time flies! I’m also an EMHC, and while they try never to schedule us to do both at the same time, it is necessary on occasion. Then, I feel like Mass was 10 minutes.

When I find my attention fading during mass I shift my concentration to the crucifix, located behind the alter in my parish and above the tabernacle, and focus on Jesus. Sometimes this is very hard to do when I am weighed down with sin or distraction.

Sometimes looking at my Lord is very difficult, but I try to push through the hesitation.

I’m in RCIA (a little over three months left!) and I can’t go to confession yet, so in that time of focusing on the crucifix I remember that it is my sin that put Him on the cross and ask Him to have mercy on me.

If I find my mind wandering to all the things I need to do at home, I think of Luke 10:41, “Martha, Martha…” and then choose " the best part that shall not be taken away".

When my mind wanders at Mass (it does a LOT), I call in my “SWAT team”:
[LIST]
*]The Holy Spirit: I ask Him to help me pray
*]The Blessed Virgin Mary: I ask her to allow me to accompany her at the foot of the Cross, which is where we are at Mass;
*]My guardian angel (and when it’s really bad I call in Saint Michael too): I ask him to stand guard and keep distractions away, and to bring back to me after Mass is over anything that I really do need to address (I have this problem that my list of tasks needing to be done files through my head during Mass or prayer time)
[/LIST]
This little system isn’t foolproof, but it does seem to help.

My mind wanders all over the place during Mass and the Rosary and it is a constant battle I have every day. I am constantly at work at re-directing my brain but I don't upset myself over it.

What I found helpful during Mass was to go through every word in the Missal in my mind as the priest says it.

I had a problem with wandering eyes. I would look all around Church to see who was there, what was happening, everything. Then I started closing my eyes during the Consecration. A big tip I can tell you is to focus on the cross. There should be a crucifix or some sort of Jesus at the front of the Church. Stare at it, focus on it. It helps your mind stay on Him.

-Jeanne

[quote="bpbasilphx, post:8, topic:180082"]
\But almost always I find my mind wandering during Mass, and even during Consecration.\

**Welcome to the human race.

All you can do is try.**

[/quote]

...to put it succinctly...

This is what I do:
First, sit in the very front row. No one can distract you when you sit in front of them. I have found this greatly reduced by distractions.

Second: As soon as I realize I may have lost focus, I pray the small St. Michael prayer used in the rosary to help me overcome the distractions.

Third: I anticipate, wait for, and look forward to the consecration. I use it as a benchmark as to “where I am in this Mass”, how close am I. I have prepared some petitions which I save just for the consecration so it helps me retain my focus.

Forth: During daily Mass if a server does not show, I volunteer. Nothing keep you focused like serving the priest.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.