How do you stay focused during mass when everything seems to conspire to distract you from praying? I just got back from Sunday mass at my home parish, which is pretty orthodox in most ways. But this morning I felt almost like giving up and finding a quieter mass somewhere else. The choir leader was banging so hard on his electric piano I couldn’t hear myself think. The only time he stopped playing was during the actual consecration. Even during some of the prayers he sort of vamped on his piano. During communion there were about 14 Extraordinary eucharistic ministers milling around on the altar, making a lot of noise, even though there were enough priests there to give communion to everyone. Usually I look forward to the few minutes after communion to quietly meditate, but this morning there were so many modulations and key changes in whatever the choir was trying to sing that it felt like I was being wrenched out of my meditation and back into the world. And as soon as the mass was over, the place broke into applause for the choir and then loud talking. I feel like a grinch for even complaining about things like this, and I try to force myself to think of people in parts of the world who are imprisoned and killed for attending mass. I wouldn’t think of not going to mass just because it’s not up to my arbitrary artistic standards, but does anyone have any advice on how to focus on the mass itself and tune out all the distractions?
I know what you mean. What I did when faced with a similar situation was just to find a different Mass. I think there is a time when the distractions are too intrusive to be tuned out. At my parish, it seems there is one Mass that is designed for lots of music, singing, and general running around. I just don’t attend that one. If possible, you might just want to change.
Whatever you decide to do, don’t give up. What has helped me stay focused is going early to Mass. What works for me is going to chapel an hour before Mass begins. It is quiet then; gives me enough time to pray the rosary, meditate on the Sunday readings. By the time Mass begins, I am focused, in a spirit of prayer. As it often happens, one particular verse or passage jumps off the page of the missal and stays with me throughout Mass. Gaining that fruit or benefit from such preparation minimizes the impact of distractions.
If the distractions at my Mass are simply too much or if I get there without the usual prep time, I can always tune into the Sunday Mass on EWTN to listen to the homily.
Hope this helps.
If your parish offers more than one Mass time, there is nothing wrong with finding which one is the quietest. Usually it’s the early morning one, but not always.
I also find that where is sit can affect my focus. We usually try to sit near the front (but not in the first few rows because then the communion procession is too close–don’t know how to describe that) and toward the center so we are looking right at the altar. In our church the further back you are the noiser it is with children and parents slipping in and out.
Also arriving in enough time to prepare before Mass helps. Also bringing a prayer book that you can focus on during the preparation of the gifts (when some folks find a need to whisper) or after communion so that you can at least read a thanksgiving prayer even if you can’t think from the choir’s singing.
***Exactly ***the same as mine! In fact, they are rather orthodox, and don’t teach any heresies at my parish. However, they are afraid to talk about the idea of hell, which Jesus was not, along with other theologically deep subjects. But that is beside the point.
Again, it is the exact same thing I was thinking right now after our Sunday Mass. During the weekday Masses they have quiet, solemn hymns sung, with no accompaniment. And there is that beautiful reverent silence. However, I dread having to go to the Sunday Mass because of what you are talking about. The pianist likes to play little fluffy things at the part where the priest says the “Libera nos…” between the Our Father and the Doxology. And also, after Communion, they like to improvise once their (less-than-reverent) hymn is done. I felt so relieved once the musicians stopped playing to receive the Eucharist and it was finally quiet.
Then there is the hand-holding, the unnecessarily loud Sign of Peace, the jokes and proceeding conversation, the applause, the kids (even though we have a family room), the talking, etc. Sorry to be so negative!
At least it’s good to know other people have the same experience. It’s that reverent silence that I miss. The odd time I go across town to the FSSP parish, and even though their mass lasts an hour and a half or longer sometimes, it feels like no time at all. It’s like the old mass naturally lends itself to quiet contemplation. The weekday masses at my parish are quite quiet and reverent, but with the Sunday masses it’s as though you’re trying to force a contemplative experience onto a mass that’s not designed for that.
God Bless you Padraig!
i enjoy the beautiful music, especially Gregorian chant in Latin, but any worship of Jesus is enjoyable, as long as it doesn’t glorify the performer and focuses on God!
Speak tothe Pastor about you concerns,and if he won’t adjust the music, then perhaps you should look for another Parish with more appropriate music?
i heard of a disabled African woman who had to crawl several miles in the dirt and heat to get to Mass! Maybe we can drive a few extra miles to worship Jesus, even if it is inconvenient!
Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, Ora Pro Nobis Peccatoribus!
I’ve found that staying focused is sometimes beyond my abilities. But I have taken to keeping my eyes focused on the tabernacle. Of course, one has to be able to find the tabernacle for that to work.
Don’t get me started.
But I do find that keeping my eyes focused on Him does help keep me focused on what really matters, or, as I should say, Who really matters. After listening to some talks recently about the Mass (and re-listening to Scott Hahn’s Lamb’s Supper and other audio and re-reading some other books), I’ve taken to considering my time at Mass to be a time of Lectio Divina. I’m taking whatever words or ideas from the Liturgy catch my attention and pondering them as I sit there trying to ignore the people talking behind me and the choir making those awful sounds they call “music”–
Sometimes I can’t ignore them as well as at others. But I try.
Mass at my parish can be very distracting. I can’t seem to get up in time for the earliest (quietest) mass. When I received communion this weekend, I couldn’t wait for the cantor to stop singing along with some would-be vocalists in the pews. :eek: I thanked God when it was over, even though our cantor has a lovely voice.
It’s almost as if the music interrupts the experience although it’s meant to enhance. How can you enhance the time when you’re closest to Christ with a hymn?
I like the suggestion of watching the EWTN masses. I also go to a mid town cathedral at times during the week.
But sometimes I don’t have the time or energy to do that and depend on my parish. Maybe I should do more spiritual things on my own.:shrug:
St. Raphael has really helped me with staying focused. I was having the same problem for the same reason you listed in your OP. I have been battling this for a couple of years, it just kept getting worse as the modernist in my parish grew bolder.
I finally made a novena to St. Raphael(the one in the Tan book about him), and ask him to help me stay focused on Mass. Last Sunday was the first Mass, after I said the novena…repeated the prayers again right before I left for Mass. It WORKED. If my mind started to wonder or I couldn’t stay focused, I felt “pulled” back…in away I really can’t explain. After I went back to my pew after recieving Communion, I felt the peace and presence of the Lord so strong, I thought I was going to fall over. We even had a very, very long announcement(which normally gets my goat) at the end of Mass, and this time it really didn’t bother me…I just tune it out, and enjoyed staying in the presence of the Lord and enjoying the peace I felt come over me, as I meditated on the crucifix…I really, really, didn’t want to get up and leave.
So give St. Raphael a try… He safely lead Tobias thru a long journey, leading us thru Mass is a piece of cake.