Actually, going to Mass is usually very difficult for me. I’m agoraphobic (don’t like being in crowded situations). Sometimes it’s bad, sometimes not as bad, but never pleasant like it used to be.
My awareness of my situation and my discomfort can be very distracting. I will usually focus on something on the floor. The parish we often attend has an exposed aggregate (small rocks) floor, and bits of glitter (from little girl’s dresses, etc) are usually found in the crevasses. These are my “stars” and I study the “constellations” made up of bits of glitter. I find red stars and gold stars and green stars (!) and imagine myself in the vastness of space, all alone, with nobody around, travelling from one star to another.
I imagine that I’m hearing the Mass on the radio of my solitary space ship. I hear it, but I don’t see it. I see my stars in the cracks of the floor while I listen to the Mass on my radio.
But sometimes I get so focused on my stars that I realize I’m not listening to my radio. It’s like a radio playing in the background - you are aware of it, but not really listening. That’s when I miss a reading, or I miss the homily. I miss a lot.
But that makes what I don’t miss all the more special.
FWIW, here’s how you can spot the agoraphobics in your midst. They will try to be at the end of the pew. They will look up or down a lot. They will have their arms crossed. They will prefer to sit near the exits and will often glance at the exits. They will usually be overdressed. They will be the last people to rise when standing and the first to sit back down (it’s not because we’re lazy). I usually stand in the rear of the Church from the Sign of Peace until the end of Communion.
If you see someone like me, the kindest thing you can do is to ignore me. I’m trying to ignore you. It’s nothing personal.