Dear St. Martin’s Parishioners,
St. Paul urges us in this Sunday’s second reading, “offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship.” We are bodily creatures, so our worship of God involves our whole self. Jesus instructs us to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” Although this encompasses the whole of our lives, I want to focus especially on our worship of God at Sunday Mass.
We must engage our hearts at Sunday Mass. This involves repentance: “Lord have mercy.” Later in the preface to the Eucharistic prayer, the priest implores the congregation, “Lift up your hearts.” Everyone responds, “We lift them up to the Lord.” Our hearts only find their repose and fulfillment in God, so we must make a conscious act of lifting them up to him. I encourage you in that moment to even imagine yourself offering your heart to the Lord in a literal way. Imagine him accepting your heart with everything that is in it. As you approach for Holy Communion, allow your heart to be drawn to the Sacred Heart of Jesus present for you this most sacred act. How does your heart respond?
Our souls are necessarily engaged at Mass as well. Our soul is the deepest, most authentic part of our self. Through our souls we are able to express our deepest desires and longings, that which is most pressing and active within us at any given moment. Before Mass (and during it as well), see what arises within you as the most important aspects of your life to present in prayer to the Lord.
Our minds must also be fully engaged at Mass. We should ask ourselves how the Lord is speaking to us in the readings and homily. When we get distracted, we should recognize that something is pulling us away from that which is most important, an intimate encounter with the Lord—not in the past, not in the future, or in another place—but in the here and now.
Lastly, our strength should be engaged in worshiping the Lord. One simple way of doing this is by lifting your voice in song. If there is no music, then pray the words of the Mass with full voice, and with hearts and minds engaged. Virtue comes from the Latin word for strength. By practicing the virtues of faith, hope, love, humility, piety, thanksgiving and adoration, we fully involve our strength at Mass.
It was a joy to see all of our St. Martin’s School students return this past week. Our school will welcome a special guest on Friday, September 15, as Cardinal Gregory will join us for an all-school Mass to open Hispanic Heritage month. This is an honor for our parish and school, and a recognition of the life-giving presence of so many Hispanic families in our parish and school. I look forward to celebrating that special Mass with all of our students and their families, as well.