I want to stay absolutely focused during the Holy Mass but sometimes mind gets off a bit. How do you people do it? Could you please guide me?
I can never keep my full attention focused during the entirety of Mass. The best I can do is catch myself quickly as my mind begins to wander and refocus. I usually glance up at the Crucifix above the alter to help center my attention.
I use a Missal and follow every word. Doesn’t always work but I’m far better with the printed word than just listening/responding.
I often don’t manage to stay absolutely focused. I do the best I can. The OF has many responses that we have to make, so that helps draw my attention back to the Mass because I have to respond with something.
Also, the churches that still use bells at the Consecration are very helpful to me because if my mind wandered the bell brings me back to the prayer.
God is pretty understanding of our human condition when we are tired, have had a busy day, are maybe concerned about an errand we have to run after Mass, there is a child making noise two rows back, whatever. The important thing is that you made the effort to come to Mass and are doing the best you can. Some days it goes better than others.
Most adults have difficulties in listening to the same person for more than 10 minutes at a time. Children is dubble their age + 2 minutes up to 10 minutes total. The good thing about Mass is that several or even all our senses are in use which help to concentrate. There are different voices reading or speaking, there is singing, standing, sitting, walking which all help.
This is what I was taught when training as a teacher. The amount of grocery list and lesson plans that were written when we had boooooring lecturers (and/or booooooring themes) come to the schools were I have worked were plentiful. Especially after lunch when everyone was in a “food coma” and tried to stay awake.
It is good if there is something in the Mass that really hits you and you reflect more about it.
The mass is both rituals and prayers. Each of them has its own special meaning, implication and objective. You will not have any idle moment if you follow the mass attentively and participate in it. That would help in avoiding losing our focus since we are participating in it.
Some suggestion here like using or following the mass from the printed missal is a helpful one. If you are already quite familiar with the mass, a vigorous participation, reponse and reflection on each part of the mass can be very profound and even touching.
Many of us find the mass exciting to really losing focus.
May God bless you with the grace of the Eucharist to experience how rich it is.
An interesting article on distractions: https://catholicexchange.com/how-the-saints-overcame-distraction-during-prayer
A more attractive method of dealing with distractions — and one much easier for us to imitate — was practiced by St. Francis of Assisi. Whenever he was about to enter church for Mass or to pray, he would say, “Worldly and frivolous thoughts, stay here at the door until I return.” Then he would go inside and pray with complete devotion.
St. Paul also says, “Concerning distractions and temptations that occur during holy prayer, you don’t need to be the least bit disturbed. Withdraw completely into the upper part of your spirit to relate to God in spirit and truth. Laugh at the noises the enemy will make outside. He cannot enter in.”
If you are united to God’s will with your sincere intention to pray the Mass well, despite the many intrusions that memory or imagination may assault you with, your will is united to God and praying. It is very pleasing to Him and meritorious.
Simply brush these intrusions aside like pesky flies that are annoying, but do no serious harm, and gently return your mind back into focus.
I would try to get to Mass 10-15 minutes early & pray. Get my mind ready to celebrate the Mass
What works for me is to follow along using the missal on my smart phone. For my entire life I have been distracted very easily. Being able to read along without having to search for things or frantically flip pages has been a real godsend for me. I try to be discrete about it, by putting the display into night mode so others around me are not distracted by bright white light. Of course all sound gets muted before I even enter the church.
I use Universalis, which is not a free app, but I prefer it over iBreviary for the LOTH. Universalis is complete, requiring no downloading of daily readings, so it works even if you have no internet connectivity. iBreviary is a free app which allows you to follow the mass, and is very good, but it does require you to download the readings at least once a week.
This what I do as well. If my eye catches someone fidgeting or talking, I look instead at the face of Jesus on the crucifix. (Easier if your church has a large one, as ours does. )
Using a missal could help you, also making sure you sing all the songs and being active in that. I also record the homilies with my phone so I can listen to them later
it helps emptying your mind if you arrive a few minutes early, say a prayer while looking at the stations of the cross on the walls.
This may sound a little odd, but here goes…One of the things that helped me more than anything was a little booklet about the Holy Mass by a woman named Catalina Rivas. She describes a vision that she had at Mass one day where the Blessed Mother spoke to her through the entire Mass.I can’t do it justice in a short post. Obviously this is a private revelation, but even if you just regard it as a beautiful prayer meditation, it’s really descriptive and instructional. I received this as a freebie when I ordered a magazine subscription, but you can find it on her website. I think it’s about 4.00. It helped me to really think about what I want to offer at each Mass and also to feel that heaven is participating at Mass with us. I read it years ago and it has stuck with me.
I just looked up Catalina Rivas on line. The Holy Mass booklet is available free on line at her web site. I am going back now to read it myself. It already looks like something worth reading.
I am 72 and I still have not figured it out.
This thread was good for a few laughs, as there are people who can put their mind to a matter and never look up until they finish. There there are the rest of us, who often don’t even know our minds have left the building until a matter of minutes later…
It wasn’t until I was 50 that I finally got a label for what I knew I had but could not articulate. If you find that you have a hard time staying focused frequently (work, play, talking with someone, reading, attending Mass, etc.), I should suggest you might consider getting a copy of the book “Driven to Distraction” by Edward M. Hallowell and John J. Ratey (both M.D.s). It blew me away; or I should say, the preface blew me away. Someone had just described me. And no, you do not necessarily have to become a pharmacological experiment - they have a number of suggestions to help you get through the day, Or the next hour.
“Oh look! A chicken!”
And meanwhile, don’t beat yourself up. Do the best you can, and then let go and let God.
And if per chance that is not your issue (and I was convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt it wasn’t mine - until the book), the recommendation is the same - do your best, then let go and let God.
I think you should prepare BEFORE Mass. There are short term and long term things to do before Mass.
Long term measures include Bible reading with a commentary to familiarize and/or remind yourself of scripture. There are some books on the Mass that might help, Like Jeremy Driscoll’s What Happens at Mass. Benedict XVI, The Spirit of the Liturgy.
Short term measures include putting everything out of mind before Mass (if possible) like radio music, instead playing religious music CD’s,. I have a small mp3 player with music, psalms I recorded myself, other prayers which I use in church while I wait for Mass to begin. Read the scriptures before Mass begins. Read and be familiar with St Teresa of Calcutta’s meditation “I Thirst”
Meditate on the Psalm which declares, I was glad when they said unto me, let us go up to the house of the LORD. Some of our churches are very uninspiring. I hope you have a tabernacle in the center of the sanctuary. Remember what a HOLY PLACE the church and sanctuary are. This is the HOLY OF HOLIES as described in the book of Exodus, the dwelling place of God. Develop some situational awareness of this fact.
During Mass, sit up front towards the altar, practice refocusing your attention before it drifts (which can happen so quickly).
Remember: the Mass is a celebration which is a meeting of heaven and earth. In it, Christ wants to give himself to you in word and in Eucharist – he desires that intimate union of being inside your body (as radio priest Fr John Riccardo teaches), in being in union with you.
St. Francis de Sales has a method for meditating during the Holy Mass that basically goes through the whole life of our Lord, and corresponds to different parts of the mass. I’ll see if I am find it for you.
Update: unfortunately, I can’t seem to find it. I do remember seeing it though, and thinking it was a amazing. There aren’t other methods for meditating during the mass though.
+1 on using a missal to stay focused.
When I find my mind straying from what is going on, I just pray, “Lord, please help me to focus.” I usually get back on track.
Too funny! I usually say “Look, a squirrel!”
I take Adderal to help my attention deficit disorder. A lot of it…
I usually get to Mass 15 minutes early, pray to clear my mind, and read the daily readings. During mass, I concentrate on the lectors and deacon during the readings. The homily is where I might start to drift, so I have to really concentrate. I’m not an oral learner, so that takes concentration. For the rest of the Mass, I just participate. I try to repeat in my head the consecration what the priest says. That seems to work.