Do you have a ritual of preparation before mass? For some people fasting one hour prior to consuming the Body and Blood of Christ is important– however this traditional Roman Catholic observation has fallen out of practice among the vast majority of those attending mass regularly. Some people pray the Rosary either alone or as a group before mass. Others I’ve seen lighting votive candles for loved ones or specific prayer requests in and around the church.
In preparation for mass I like to pray St. Thomas Aquinas’ prayer before mass. I find that it has a very direct and almost hilariously blunt formula for preparation. Aquinas reminds us in the prayer that we come to mass a sick people, who are in need of the “physician of life” and his “fountain of mercy.” He then asks that such healing take place during the mass and goes on to request that his faith bring him salvation and not punishment when the day comes that he can look on Christ not through the veils of bread and wine but as Himself in glory.
Almighty and everlasting God,
behold I come to the Sacrament of Thine only-begotten Son,
our Lord Jesus Christ:
I come as one infirm to the physician of life,
as one unclean to the fountain of mercy, a
s one blind to the light of everlasting brightness,
as one poor and needy to the Lord of heaven and earth.
Therefore I implore the abundance of Thy measureless bounty
that Thou wouldst vouchsafe to heal my infirmity,
wash my uncleanness,
enlighten my blindness,
enrich my poverty
and clothe my nakedness,
that I may receive the Bread of Angels,
the King of kings,
the Lord of lords,
with such reverence and humility,
with such sorrow and devotion,
with such purity and faith,
with such purpose and intention
as may be profitable to my soul’s salvation.
Grant unto me, I pray,
the grace of receiving
not only the Sacrament of our Lord’s Body and Blood,
but also the grace and power of the Sacrament.
O most gracious God,
grant me so to receive the Body of Thine only-begotten Son,
our Lord Jesus Christ,
which He took from the Virgin Mary,
as to merit to be incorporated into His mystical Body,
and to be numbered amongst His members.
O most loving Father,
give me grace to behold forever
Thy beloved Son with His face at last unveiled,
whom I now purpose to receive
under the sacramental veil here below.
I like to end mass with St. Thomas’ prayer for the end of mass as well but that is a topic for another post. Let me know what sort of rituals or routines you have before you attend mass that you use as a means of preparation in the comment section!