How do you keep your attention focused at Mass?
-What specific strategies do you use?
_ _ _ Saying you just pray doesn’t help.
-How do you go deep?
-How do keep your mind from wandering?
-How do you refocus after a distraction?
-What mental doorways do you use to focus on the mysteries of the Mass and stay focused?
How do you keep your attention focused at Mass?
Good question, as I am frequently distracted at mass.
I focus, really focus, on what the priest is saying and what the words mean. I go deep by asking, “What do these words mean for us as a community and for me personally?”
If something is going on around me that is distracting I’ll close my eyes, ask for forgiveness, and move on.
When distracted, especially by sinful thoughts, I ask Blessed Mary or my guardian angel to help me banish those thoughts and regain my focus.
One mental image I use to help me focus on the mysteries of the Mass is that of the choirs of angels surrounding us who are taking part in the Mass with us. This image lifts my spirit in a way I cannot really describe right now but it really helps with my participation.
I hope some of this helps.
I have a daily Mass booklet, and it keeps me focused. During the homily (which I can’t hear) I say the Rosary. Keeping control of your eyes helps too, just look at the Tabernacle, not at the people around you, or look down. Offer your distractions up, and say “Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me” constantly in your mind. God bless
I read the readings prior to the Mass and try to understand the meanings. I research them, and read them several times if necessary. It often helps to discuss them with my husband. Then, during the actual Mass I already know what to expect, so this helps my focus, even if there are distractions. After the Mass, my husband and I discuss them further. Hope this helps.
I actively try and memorize (because even I slip up) the words that are said, not just by the laity, but by the priest as well. I figure it might be helpful in building my faith, so that’s one thing I do. I also actively participate in singing, even though I’m not nearly as good as my wife, who completely overshadows me, I still try to sing. I also try to keep in my mind that I’m not there for me. I’m there to pay respects to God and those that have come before me. During the few silent moments, I will put my head down and pray about things on my mind. During the homily, I will try to focus and memorize what the priest is talking about, because it can be very helpful in building my faith, and you catch really interesting phrases such as this one I picked up: “Some will forgo charity for the sake of faith, and others will forgo faith for the sake of charity. They are not mutually exclusive. You need both.”
I’m thinking of starting to bring a notepad to mass with me to take notes during the readings and homily; maybe take note of the names of the songs I like to look them up again later. This too, I will do for faith building.
I listen to the readings as if I had never heard them.They come alive then.
God becomes present physically in a miracle!
Everyone can get distracted sometimes, but those two moments are so amazing!
Don’t be hard on yourself, if you get distracted,you get distracted, just gently bring your mind back to what’s happening.
It also helps me to follow in a daily missal because you can read along every single prayer the priest says.
Also, it helps to read a book like The Lamb’s Supper that unfolds everything that happens during the Liturgy, right down to when the angels join us in singing Holy, Holy, Holy.
I also follow along with everything that is said. It draws me in.
I have also been known to take notes during the Homily.
I don’t clap, to begin with…
Ok I was half-joking, but seriously, the keyword is recollection. We enter the church quietly, kneel and sign ourselves slowly. This is like being welcomed and embraced by the Lord. We should “lift up our hearts” and focus on Christ really present in the Tabernacle and no more on the people, not in the least bit (beside the minimum courtesy necessary if we are with a loved one or children). All the greetings and talking inside the church is very distracting and should be kept to a minimum. Nobody will feel offended if they try to greet us and we acknowledge them with niceness and simplicity and go sit without any further interaction.
When we are awaiting for Holy Mass to begin, we should meditate on what is about to take place before our eyes, a majestic miracle of love. Sometimes a Rosary is prayed publicly…which is all right, but if that is not the case, then there are many wonderful prayers before Mass that Missals used to include, and which predispose us to receive greater graces.
During the Mass, we ought to recall that the priest acts in persona Christi: it is Our Lord who celebrates the Mass. Our focus should be on him. Surely there are times in which the congregation is involved in a communitary prayer (ex. intercessions, Our Father, etc.).
For the Pater Noster I do not hold hands for it is an improper sign of communion between the faithful. It can be done out of custom, it’s fine, it’s not against the rubrics, but it is better to simply join our hands and focus on our prayer to God the Father.
The only time in which we would have to interrupt briefly our recollection is for the Sign of Peace, which should be a very simple greeting (with or without handshake) with the people to our left, front, and right, period.
The Agnus Dei is about to begin or has already begun by that time, and our focus must immediately shift on Him who takes away the sins of the world. In the past, it was customary to kneel through the Agnus Dei, now we only kneel (often in a rush)when the priest lifts the Blessed Sacrament. I personally kneel as soon as I have given the Sign of Peace to those in my immediate vicinity and pray the Agnus Dei. This way others are also moved to shift their focus calmly back towards Christ, as they notice that there is something important about to happen in the Sanctuary.
After the Domine non sum dignus (“Lord, I am not worthy”) ideally we would no longer speak but focus on Christ. In the past, the schola cantorum would sing, but nowadays this is most often done by the congregation on regular days. I guess it is fine, but very distracting when instead we would rather be focusing on He whom we are most unworthy to receive and on the immense love that is about to be poured in our little heart.
After Communion, in the Ordinary Form we often have but a handful of seconds before we hear “Let us pray” and we receive the Final Blessing. We ought to be very recollected and on our knees during that scant minute to give the deepest acts of love and thanksgiving to the Beloved who is within us…living right after Communion, it is not just improper, but sinful, and a reason for scandal…Padre Pio spoke of Communion “like a fusion: like two candles that fuse together and are no longer distinguishable”. In the revelations of the Sacred Heart to Sr. Josefa Menendez, the Lord spoke of “almost incarnating” within the person receiving Communion. What an extraordinary feat of love…surely we want to bring Him our worries and needs, but this is hardly the first thing to do…He literally needs to feel loved and welcomed…appreciated, embraced! Let us pour a spiritual balm on His head and feet like st. Mary Magdalene and rest on Him like st. John the beloved disciple…let us make Him find a place of peaceful rest in our heart…a place where He may stretch His arms and breathe full of joy, as when He walked to the top of the hill to pray peacefully to the Father…let our hearts be that hill…time goes so fast, but it will be well spent.
After Mass, remember He is within us for about 15 minutes…we are literally a living tabernacle…it is not proper to leave the Church right after Mass and start talking to others like nothing happened…let us remain in prayer for at least 10 to 15 more minutes…because if He deigns to remain within us for that time, the least we can do is deign to remain with Him as well, adoring Him, consoling Him…yes, consoling Him who so many offenses receives from the world and from so many of His little ones whom He died for…
Each person obviously is different in the sense that even if we do the minimum necessary, we can still be distracted…in the past, people would pray the Rosary or other prayers during Mass, which is perfectly fine, since it is the priest who is celebrating the Mass. This may benefit some. But ideally we would pray the Mass along with the priest (except the words of consecration).
Hope some of the above benefits others as it has benefited me…my experience during Mass was greatly enhanced in this way, and not just mine…
I focus by following along with the Missal.
And it helps if I have had my adderall that morning.
Nice post. Very interesting. Thanks
Yes this was lovely. I found like many that previewing the readings with a commentary is helpful to connecting with them at Mass. Often the Priest will tie the homily into one or more of the readings so you have some context.
There are a number of short and readable books on the Mass that also help you get involved as you understand the historical background, the Liturgy and why each word has meaning. I believe Scott Hahn has a good one.
Like everything you get out what you put into it. If Mass is just something to get through then it becomes an hour of watching the minutes tick by. If you get involved, maybe even consider taking a role as Lector, E.M., Sacristan or choir it will enrich the experience.
I follow along in the missal. Even though I know most of it by heart, reading the words of the Mass helps me to stay engaged.
The thing that helps me is to get there a little bit early and get comfortable and sort of clear my mind before Mass starts. I find that when I get there are the eleventh hour, it’s harder for me to focus. Also, singing the hymns and responses and focusing on the texts especially helps me.
Just another thought, maybe try a different time or different Mass. You might connect better with a particular Mass or Priest or Liturgy. There is an evening Contemplative Mass at a nearby Parish that I sometimes attend. It is quite spare, meditative and easier to stay focused on Christ than the 9am Mass with brighter light so there are distractions as you look around and start focusing on what someone is wearing or the crying baby in the next pew. We have a full choir at one Mass only with sometimes just a Cantor at the other Masses. If the music helps you enter and focus (it does for me) then attending the Mass where there is more elaborate music might help. Or if you don’t enjoy singing or the additional music, attend where it’s trimmed down to a Cantor and accompanist
Same here. I’m one of those people St. Teresa of Jesus spoke of, who have “minds like wild horses.” It’s often a struggle to pay attention. Following along in the Missal really does help.
I think this is really common for some Protestants. I visited a church with my roommate once and there were several women doing this.
I struggle I will admit to that.
I been going to church about 25 years and a few years ago I restarted serving. I tried serving when I was 20 but didnt take to it but now at 43 I took to it straight away as such. At first I had to pay attention because nothing was taught. Just followed and yes I seen it often enough over the years but doing… A new priest arrived nearly two year ago now and he kept me awake a bit more especially as his second week I was the only server and never done it on my own before and that really kept me awake. I do find the communion the hardest bit. It is okay when I am in the choir and singing. But when serving my mind wandered. At first I didn’t notice the wandering but it got so bad in that I was questioning what I was doing there and whether I am Christian etc and just got into such tight knots. It only 5 minutes but was turning out to be 5 minutes of hell for me Thankfully I came up with the idea of reading through that part. I braved picking up the leaflet and re read the two readings etc but still wasn’t totally relaxed. The priest knew what I was doing as I told him. I needed something more solid to reading and thought he would accept me bringing a suitable book. The suitable book would have been the history of church music by Parry, I have obvious reason to read it but never got around to it. So I emailed the priest not really believing he would let me but he did email me back telling me so long as I remember that to listen to God I can read any book as God can speak to us through anything etc. I have printed out that email and kept it in case any church member complains an altar server is reading. It made a big difference from that part of the service being hell to turning it into something I now look forward to. I do also concentrate on God which is more than I ever had done before. When I am in the choir and we not singing I get banter but don’t mind in that the banter keeps the questions away but does stop my time with God because I get carried away. The rest of the mass, I focus on the practical side of the service. There are times when the words are all too much and I let it happen around me and hope God understands.
I sit about four pews from the altar. That way I don’t get visual distractions with so many people in front of me. I like watching the celebrant, lector and cantor up close. That helps me stay focused on the liturgy. Knowing that something miraclulous is about to happen, the bread and wine becoming the Body and Blood. At mass we Catholics should be joyous and grateful at that special moment regardless of any distractions.
I read the readings before Mass. Our priest urges us not to read the missal at Mass. He says allow the Holy Spirit to touch your mind, and your heart. Still, I struggle with my attention span. I find closing my eyes, concentrating on the words, really helps.