A little preparation can go a long way.
Getting into the right mindset before Mass can often be very difficult. Distractions take our mind and soul to a million different places, and before we know it the priest is ready to distribute Holy Communion, and we’ve barely realized we’re in a church.
What can we do to quiet our soul before Mass so that we can enter into worship more deeply?
A very simple but powerful age-old custom is to say a brief prayer of preparation. It could be said upon arrival at the church or while driving in the car. It is surprising how much a brief prayer, prayed with the heart, can calm us down and focus our attention at the mystery about to happen before our eyes.
Here are three prayers from the great treasury of the Church that can help you quiet your soul and open up the Mass for you in a new way.
Act of Love before Mass
O my God, I love Thee with all my heart, with all my soul, with all my strength and with no other desire than to be inseparably united to Thee. It is through Thy Divine Son that this union is about to be realized within me. In Holy Communion I long to identify myself with Him, that it will no longer be myself, but Him, who lives in me; and when I have received Jesus within myself, then I shall love and be loved by Thee in that same measure, in which I am united to Him. Hasten then, to give me Thy Divine Son, at the hands of Thy priest, that through Jesus, I may unite myself forever to Thee, O God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Prayer of St. Thomas Aquinas
Almighty and ever-living God, I draw near to the sacrament of your only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
I come sick to the physician of life, unclean to the fountain of mercy, blind to the light of eternal brightness, poor and needy to the Lord of heaven and earth.
So I ask you, most generous Lord: graciously heal my infirmity, wash me clean, illumine my blindness, enrich my poverty, and clothe my nakedness.
May I receive the Bread of angels, the King of kings, and Lord of lords, with such reverence and humility, such contrition and devotion, such purity and faith, and such resolve and determination as may secure my soul’s salvation. Grant as I may receive not only the visible sign of the Lord’s Body and Blood, but also all the reality and the power of the sacrament.
Grant most kind God, that I may receive the Body of your only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, which he received from the Virgin Mary, and may receive it in such a way that I become a loving part of his Mystical Body and counted among his members.
O most loving Father, grant me your beloved Son.
While on this earthly pilgrimage, I receive him under the veil of this sacrament; so may I come at last to see him face to face for all eternity. For he lives and reigns with you for ever and ever. Amen.
Prayer of St. Ambrose
O loving Lord Jesus Christ, I a sinner, presuming not on my own merits, but trusting in Thy mercy and goodness, with fear and trembling approach the table of Thy most sacred banquet. For I have defiled both my heart and body with many sins, and have not kept a strict guard over my mind and my tongue. Wherefore, O gracious God, O awful Majesty, I, a wretched creature, entangled in difficulties, have recourse to Thee, the font of mercy; to Thee do I fly that I may be healed, and take refuge under Thy protection. And I ardently desire to have Him as my Savior, Whom I am unable to withstand as my Judge.
To Thee, O lord, I show my wounds, to Thee I lay bare my shame. I know that my sins are many and great, on account of which I am filled with fear. But I trust in Thy mercy, of which there is no end. Look down upon me, therefore, with the eyes of Thy mercy on me, who am full of misery and sin, Thou Who wilt never cease to let flow the fountain of mercy.
Hail, Victim of salvation, offered for me and for all mankind on the tree of the Cross. Hail, noble and precious Blood, flowing from the wounds of my crucified Lord Jesus Christ and washing away the sins of the whole world. Remember, O Lord, Thy creature, whom Thou hast redeemed with Thy Blood. I am grieved because I have sinned, I desire to make amends for what I have done.
Take away from me, therefore, O most merciful Father, all my iniquities and sins, that, being purified both in soul, and body, I may worthily partake of the Holy of Holies. And grant that this holy oblation of Thy Body and Blood, of which, though unworthy, I purpose to partake, may be to me the remission of my sins, the perfect cleansing of my offenses, the means of driving away all evil thoughts and of renewing all holy desires, the accomplishment of works pleasing to Thee, as well as the strongest defense for soul and body against the snares of my enemies. Amen.