Learning to enter into the Divine Mysteries is very similar to being able to sit gently by a body of water and soak in the beauty of nature. In such a relaxed state, one is able to notice details and to pick out pieces of inspiration not in a nervous or self-conscious manner, but rather calmly listening to the landscape and to one’s interior. There is a flow to such moments, and the more our experience of the liturgy can resemble this flow, the more we learn to pray the Mass with a renewed sense of wonder and awe.
There are many things that destroy the flow of the liturgy. As much as we may believe that such things are more the domain of other people’s shortcomings, the vast variety come more from our own expectations and prejudices than from outside. With the notable exception of parents with young children who must be attentive to little ones, many people get themselves into trouble by being overly preoccupied with aesthetics or the behavior of other people.
We need to cultivate a deep attentiveness to the drama of the Mass; we need to learn to listen to the Holy Spirit moving through the liturgy.
Along these lines, we can enter into the ecstasy of the Mass irregardless of music and other surface details which are important but ultimately not the heart of the Eucharistic encounter. There will always be exceptions, but as we learn to let go of our preoccupation with our individual preferences and perceptions, we are able to enter into a whole new world of grace and beauty. The Mass will take hold of us and the Holy Spirit will unlock the graces of the Eucharist as surrender and receive.
A strategy for cultivating this gentle attentiveness to the power of the Mass is to seek only one inspiration per Mass. Instead of trying to analyze and capture each reading, every point of the homily, and all the prayers, we should give ourselves permission to walk away from the Mass with only one thing that drew our attention. As we give ourselves permission to only be aware of one thing, we will soon find that many more details begin to move within our thinking. In time, we will develop a certain flexibility both in our concentration and in our prayer, and we will soon learn to enter into conversation with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit as the flow of the liturgy slowly passes by.
Thus, we will learn to sit by the stream of living water that flows from the Eucharistic sacrifice. As the stream goes by, we will allow our hearts to sing and rest with a sense of play and wonder. Our Lord calls us to his rest, his sabbath; let us embrace his invitation.